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Sunday, July 29, 2012

Castle Trail, etc.

I guess I'm hiking too much, as of now  I've hiked all the New Hampshire 4000 footers for the month of July. I'm having to get creative to keep entertained. The goal for today was to go up Castle Trail (Redline) which have some really cool rock formations along the ridge that someone at some point though looked like castle turrets up to Mount Jefferson and over Mount Adams to Mount Madison (Grid 2). then retracing my steps via Gulfside Trail to Lighting Ridge Junction and then heading up Sam Adams (Trailwrights) and then back down Lowe's Path (Redline).

Parking was at the Bowman area off route 2 in Randolph, NH. For reference it is between the turnoff to go to the Ridge of Caps area and Lowe's Store on the right. There is a hiker sign there. Starting head down the old rail road bed for a couple hundred feet and you'll see a quick left. This trail does not get the traffic that some do so it may seem a bit overgrown but there are blue blazes and all is well.

The day started out like it might clear off. The first 1.5 miles is a gradual up hill through forest on what appears to be an old logging road. After 1.5 the trail begins to go up at a good pace to the bottom of the rigde that goes up to the Castles. Then strangely it becomes almost flat for about 20-30 minutes. At the point where the link trail crosses Castle trail it begins to rise sharply. If you are not in good overall shape you do not want to be on this trail as there are several pull ups, throw yourself onto and traverse up cracks. It is well worth the climb as you get great view of the head wall of Edmunds Col and the ridge of caps and Bretton Woods even on a overcast day. 

As I climbed up to Jefferson it fogged in. It rained and the wind blew for the rest of the day. Conditions were quite slick and it took a great deal of patience to pick your way up and down wet rock.

I got to eat lunch though in the retrofitted Madison Hut which is very nice and modern looking now. Then I headed back up to Gulfside and across to Sam Adams. Like all the other places it's just a pile of rocks but it is my first peak that I'm doing specifically for the Trailwrights which I just joined http://www.trailwrights.org/.

Then it was back down Lowe's Path. I had taken a compass reading going up Sam Adams and reversed course to get back down to the trail. The fog was quite thick. Lowe's Path was quite beautiful with large rock cairns leading the way down the open face. I have to go back when the weather is better.

When you get to the bottom of Lowe's Path there is an old rail road bed, follow it to the left for about a mile back to the Bowman parking lot.

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