Franconia Ridge

Franconia Ridge

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Giant Falls and Dream Lake

This morning started cold but was quickly warming up. It was going to be a nice warm Spring day and my plan was to hike the Peabody Brook Trail that would take me to Giant Falls and Dream Lake. The trailhead is located in Shelburne, NH on North Road. Today's lesson: DO NOT let the Spring sun and warm temperatures lull you into a sense of, "there can't be that much snow at the top of this trail."


I initially drove past the trailhead and had to back up. There was nobody else here. As I was heading out onto the trail another hiker pulled up behind my vehicle. He soon caught up with me and we talked while we walked until I had to take off my fleece and he moved on ahead of me. I never saw him again but his truck was still there when I got back. There was no other hiker on this trail today.

Last sit-down break for a long time.

Going up!

At about 1.2 miles a side path leads to Giant Falls (0.3 mi.). The falls are spectacular! It is difficult to capture a photo that gives the proper perspective of the height of the falls. The Peabody Brook is full of waterfalls, cascades and slides. After a brief visit to Giant Falls I returned to the main trail and continued up.

Presidential Peaks from Peabody Brook Trail

A strategically placed ladder.

It wasn't long until I was walking through spotty patches of snow. The trail crosses Peabody Brook and here is where it started to get real interesting. After a cold night the snow was firm enough to walk over, for the most part. The higher I climbed the deeper the snow got and there was some occasional postholing. I left the snowshoes and microspikes at home thinking most of the snow should be gone - wrong.

Beginning of the snowpack.

Peabody Brook slide.

I was following the tracks of the hiker I had met earlier. As I got closer to Dream Lake the trail was very obscure and there was no clear path. Open water on the trail and some deep postholes from previous hikers were becoming more frequent. Then there was recent postholes from a very large moose along with some very fresh moose poop that kept me on the lookout for some unwelcome company.

The snow continues...with postholes!

Dream Lake came into view through the woods. There was no clear path to get there and I could see it was still frozen over although I didn't plan on testing it. I came to a new trail junction that led to Bald Cap Ledges. It used to be a bushwhack,the Shelburne Trails Club (STC) at work! That hike would be another day. I was anxious to get down to the lake and saw a decent opening in the woods leading down to the shoreline.

Budding in the snow

Each step was becoming hit or miss with the postholing. The plan was to put on the gaiters at the lake. As I got to the edge of the shoreline I took one step more than I should have. I postholed down into some water and completely submerged my foot. Mother Nature teaching me another lesson, should have had the gaiters on already. My gaiters were at the bottom of the pack and I was sure glad that I had them!

Approach to Dream Lake

Dream Lake

I reached my goal of Dream Lake but I was not out of the woods yet, literally! It was time to make my descent and there was no time to be wasted. The warm sun and temperature were working their magic on the deep snow cover. With every warming minute the postholing increased in frequency and depth. The snow that held me up on the ascent was not doing so on the descent. It was like something out of an Indiana Jones movie where if I stood still or hesitated things would only get worse. I had to keep moving through the persistent postholes and stretches of water.

Knee-deep posthole

View toward the Presidentials

Making a hasty descent I reached the end of the snowpack and took off my gaiters. It was now time for a well-deserved break, something to eat and change into a short-sleeve shirt. The rest of the trail was a breeze!

Almost back

Today's initial plan was to bask by Dream Lake in the warm Spring sun. So much for best laid plans. I want to return to this area again, after the snow melts. There's a new trail to Middle Mountain, another to the Bald Cap Ledges and then there is Dryad Falls (over 300 feet in height). Further east on North Road is Mount Ingalls and the other (non 4,000 foot) Mount Cabot.

Peabody Brook

The Shelburne Trails Club (STC) is doing a great job at revitalizing the trails in this area. They have cleared and blazed existing trails as well as created new trails and provided new signage. This is a beautiful place to hike if you want to get away from the crowd and enjoy some fantastic views. I don't think there is enough people reading my blog that will suddenly create an influx of hikers to this area. These trails should definitely be in your future hiking plans.

Having Fun in the Great Outdoors!

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