Tunnel Brook Notch

Last Saturday the dogs and I headed out to log some much-needed solo miles in Tunnel Brook Notch, the long valley between the peaks of Moosilauke and Clough. The trail — 4.4 miles from end to end, though the north trailhead is no longer directly accessible thanks to the ravages of Hurricane Irene — had come on my radar after I asked a friend who always seems to find the coolest spots if he’d mind sharing a few routes. We started from the south trailhead intending to hike the full length of the trail as an out-and-back.

An old logging road quickly narrows to singletrack along (crossing and recrossing) a pretty stream with many small cascades. The first mile passes a normally-scenic but currently under construction reservoir that serves the Glencliff Home. We opted not to linger over this view.

image

The trail does climb a wee bit but is never remotely steep or difficult in footing, though I can imagine the many water crossings might fall on the tedious-to-tricky spectrum in high water. I made out fine rock-hopping (with the occasional “paid for this Goretex, might as well use it” moment) and the dogs were unconcerned. Lilo’s wading at the swimming hole on that hot, hot weekend seems to have emboldened her! At two and a half miles, the woods begin to open up a bit and Mud Pond, with views to Moosilauke, becomes visible on the right.

image
The dogs were pleased to see water…
image
…although Lilo was slightly less amused by the mud.

Beaver-related flooding has taken over part of the trail near Mud Pond, but there’s a well-beaten bypass through the woods to the left. It returns to the original trail at the north end of the pond by a well-built fire ring. It seemed like a good spot for a break.

image

Not to mention for a long, long look back the way we’d come!

image
Expansive view of the notch from a wonderfully peaceful spot.

We eventually continued north, ducking back into the woods before popping out at another wide-open beaver swamp, this time looking north. There’s a nice fire ring in this area, too. I hope to return and make use of them some evening.

imageimage

To our left was Clough, a trail-less (I believe) peak that’s one of the New Hampshire Hundred Highest. I’d read a few reports of bushwhacks from Tunnel Brook up the slides and/or to the summit and it was in the back of my mind if I saw an obvious herd path. But none presented itself (though I think I did find the drainage that one writer mentioned taking to a slide). Maybe next time.

image
The slides of Clough.
image
Notch to the north.
image
Evidence of beaver activity, just in case the dams and other obviously-gnawed trees weren’t enough.

Beyond the ponds, the trail moves through shifting forest. One section is mysteriously marked by cairns. I have no idea why; it’s well below treeline and the area isn’t even all that rocky by White Mountain standards. But it did feel a bit like running into old friends by surprise.

image

At last, the light through the trees ahead suggested an opening-up of the woods. We popped out onto Tunnel Brook Road. This was the original parking area for the north trailhead, but apparently the road was impressively washed-out by Irene a few years back. The cul-de-sac is being gradually overgrown. It made a nice spot to take our second long break of the day.image

image
Titus did really well for most of the day! He did have a bit of a meltdown at mile four (and again at mile eight) and ended up grabbing this Leanlix when I dropped it and holding on for dear life, then self-soothing at the break by gnawing all the contents out. I didn’t like it as well as Lickety Stiks for our purposes, anyway. Worked great as a pacifier, though! I’ve grabbed a couple of small bully sticks to carry on future hikes for this purpose.
image
Trail sign just before the north trailhead.

Once everyone was fed and rested, we headed south again.

image

image
Titus made a friend.
image
Also, crazy eyes!

Lilo sulked a bit when she realized it was an out-and-back. They do take after their people, huh? But the trail really does hike sweetly and we made good time back to the first campsite. I think we would all have been happy to linger there. Alas, we were on the clock and so had to savor as we went.

image

image
Tried a different water solution this time: a 1.5-liter hydration bladder for me and a Nalgene (could easily be two) for dog water. I’ve had bad experiences with bladders in the past and refuse to rely solely on one, but this set-up made me comfortable with the bottle for backup and worked, overall, really well. And yes, I carry a lot of water. It’s my thing that I always carry too much of. Some people bring too much food, some folks bring too many clothes, and I carry too much water. So it goes!

imageimageimage

image
Pretty little cascade at one of (maybe the?) last water crossings.

I’d had high hopes for the trail and it more than delivered: respectable mileage for a day hike without beating up on the hikers, plenty to look at along the way, and a scenic, unusual setting. The whole feel of the place was peaceful and welcoming. It has a lot of potential, too, between the campsites and the bushwhack to Clough and the possibility of a loop up Moosilauke. I have a long list of hikes that I’d like to do this summer, but I’m already looking forward to revisiting this one.

Advertisements

Tell Me A Thing

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s