There's nothing like New England in the fall. The colors on the trees, maybe some snow on the mountaintops, a bit of chill in the air, these things may be found in other places as well, but how can they compare to New England! It's the time of year I look forward to most. After a long year, the land shows you it's true splendor before the barren trees, and shorter days.
One thing I love about the northeast is that the fall season is spread out among the different regions. The beautiful fall foliage reaches peak probably first in Maine, and then spreads it's way south, eventually working the magic down to where I live in NJ. So you can spend a lot of time seeing the outstanding color, as long as you're in the right place at the right time. For a long time I wanted to be in Maine for this, and the time had finally come for me to be there.
Maine! The word itself brings a smile to my face. How can you not love Maine? I've only been to Maine a couple of times, but those times were great. I wanted to go back the year before, but it didn't happen. I wasn't going to let that occur this fall. I was going to be there to see the beauty.
I spent basically the whole spring and summer devoted to NH. I went to the Catskills a couple of times, because they are not too far from my house, but my longer trips were all focused on the Granite State. I skipped going to the Adirondacks because I set a goal for the year in NH, and I reached the goal sooner than I imagined. It was time to take a short break from NH and see... Maine!
I was going to have a couple of days off from work so I wanted to go to Maine, but I still wanted to be close to NH, to get a day of hiking in there too. So where should I head to? The answer is so simple, and so great... Old Speck of course! I could stay in Gorham, and make the short drive over to Grafton Notch State Park, and have myself a great time. I was excited.
I made the long drive from my house to the White Mountains, and what a difference there was. It was still warm in NJ, but when I stepped out of the car in Jefferson you could feel the cold. It was good to feel that. The clouds were obscuring the Presidential Range for the most part, but you could see snow up there. The trees were looking nice; yes it was fall for sure! Tomorrow there would be clear skies, and I would be on Old Speck.
I decided to take the Old Speck trail, with the Eyebrow variation on the way up. It was a weekday, so there was only a couple of cars in the lot when I got there. It was looking to be a great morning. No fog or clouds were anywhere, there was a nice blue sky, and the scenery was just outstanding. It was a bit chilly for sure, and there was some wind you could feel, but it was a terrific day to go hiking. This was it; the colors on the trees were so beautiful, it was a hike to be enjoyed from the first step until the last.
The Eyebrow is steeper than the regular trail, but it provides a great lookout across the way to Baldpate Mountain, and the road as it comes into Grafton Notch State Park, so in my mind it's a must to do this part of the trail. There are actually cables to help you ascend at one point. Then there are ladder rungs stuck in the ground as well to assist you. I don't know if all that is necessary, but there shouldn't be any excuses to do that trail with them. The Eyebrow also gives you a nice spot where you can look up, and see your destination, Old Speck.
Eyebrow trail looking back out over the Eyebrow
I worked my way up the Old Speck trail until it reached the Mahoosuc trail. There was a slight dusting of snow on some areas by the trail, and I saw some icicles on some rocks, but winter had yet to really reach the mountain. There were some nice outlooks after the Eyebrow as well. I passed some ladies hiking, but other than them, I didn't see anybody else on the trail until the way back.
Baldpate from overlook
On the summit of Old Speck I turned my phone on, because I wanted to find out any news about my sister, who was about to give birth any day now. I was going to be an Uncle again, and I was excited! My mom was out there with her in Alaska, where she lives. I said to myself I really hope she has the baby today, so the hike would have extra significance. Old Speck would be Teddy's mountain. I could take him here many years from now, and say I was here the day you were born.
So I turn the phone on, and there's a message from my Dad... Teddy had arrived! Awesome! I called my mom, and she told me the good news. It was such a great day. What a spot to find out you're an Uncle. I was very happy.
I went up the fire tower, and it was a terrific view. I could see the Presidential Range, way in the distance, and I could see the covering of snow there. It was neat. It was very windy on the top of that tower, so I went up and looked, and then went back down. I decided to stay until those ladies I passed on the way up made the summit as well. They eventually showed up, we took some pictures of each other, and then I started to head back.
I decided on the way back down to see the part of the Old Speck trail I skipped when I went up the Eyebrow. I was glad I did, because this part of the trail has it's rewards as well. It makes for a very good loop, if you want to call it that. There's a part of the trail up on the mountain that has some really nice colorful moss that I really liked. It's the unexpected things that can sometimes bring the best memories. I also saw some grey-jays up close, that made the hike that much better as well.
Old Speck trail
So the cool thing about going to Old Speck is that when you are done, you're not done. Grafton Notch State Park has some interesting little stops on the way to Old Speck that you can check out before, or like I did, check them out after you're done with Old Speck. There's the Moose Cave, Mother Walker Falls, and Screw Auger Falls. All of those stops are worth going to. You can spend some time exploring each one, or look at them real quick. They are all close to one another, so it's no inconvenience to see them all. I was glad I did.
Screw Auger Falls area Moose Cave area
You know I'll always remember my time at Old Speck. Wow. what a great day that was. It's one of my favorite places in the northeast.