Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Sunday Hike -- Midstate Trail: Camp Winnekeag to Westminster State Forest

After 6 1/2 miles on Saturday, Michelle and I decided to take advantage of a second day of perfect weather (upper 60s, no clouds, no wind) and continued down the Midstate Trail from Camp Winnekeag.

From the parking lot at the camp, the first quarter mile or so follows town roads. Once we left the pavement for the woods, the next mile was a gradual incline up to the summit of Mt. Hunger. The path was dry and well marked, so we were able to hike fairly quickly. The hike to the top of the mountain was deceiving, since there were two or three false peaks and we haven't yet figured out how to judge our distance by our speed.

About three quarters of the way to the summit, we passed two couples with small children who had stopped at a small pond to listen to the peepers. They would be the only people (but not the only peepers) we would meet on the six-plus miles of hiking today. Just short of the summit is a lookout to the north, with a good view of Stodge Meadow Pond and Mt. Watatic (photo below).

In defiance of the mountain, we ate.

The trail continued along a ridgeline and through a sparsely forested area, including one grove where nearly all of the trees had been sheared off about 8-10 feet off the ground. It looked like there might have been a tornado or a microburst in that area at some time. The trail was dry and a bit slick in spots, due to the beech leaves that covered the path.

The trail dropped stteply crossed a road and through a pasture, and the terrain became much more difficult to navigate because of standing water in many spots. It became particularly challenging as we atempted to cross Brown Brook. While the crossing is probably easy in the late summer when the water is down, you can see by the picture below that it is difficult to pick out a crossing point this time of year.

We hiked nearly a mile along an old cart path to Phillips Brook and route 12, where we stopped for a rest. The path continued up a fairly steep hill (which was not evident on the map, we were expecting a fairly flat hike for the last two miles) and through some fairly dense forest. Along these two miles, we saw the most wildlife we have seen yet along the trail, with a red squirrel, a downy woodpecker, four wild turkeys, and a bird that we think was a pheasant.

Once we reached Westminster State Forest, we hiked out the Blue Trail about 1/4 mile to our other vehicle.

Total Hike: 6.4 miles.
Midstate Trail to date: 11.6 miles.
Total summer to date: 18.5 miles.
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