I’ve been very lazy this winter. I’d think about hiking, look at the snow, and then I’d just return to the couch. I couldn’t find the motivation to trudge for miles through the snow.
Well, that changed this past weekend. I pulled myself from the couch, forced boots on my feet, threw myself into my car, and drove to SGL 57. Ryan joined me for this hike.
But I was concerned. The last time I went to the balds, it was a year ago. I battled over 2 feet of powder that my snowshoes were helpless against. I was afraid of those same conditions. Ryan announced he wasn’t going to bring snowshoes, and I decided to risk it and do the same.
The goal of this hike was to explore the base of the cliffs and overhangs along the rim of the balds. We hiked up to graceful White Brook Falls in a glen with ice and snow. The weather was better than forecasted, with plenty of sun and no snow showers. The climb up the grade above White Brook followed. The snow was compacted and dense, making it easy to walk on it without snowshoes. At first, I felt slow and lethargic. As I climbed, I found my lungs and legs, feeling stronger as I reached the top.
The top had more snow, but it was still frozen and thick. I was thankful that I didn’t bring snowshoes. The conditions were ideal- bright sunshine, deep blue skies, crisp temperatures.
We reached the cliffs and overhangs. The deep snow made it easier to traverse the rugged, rocky terrain. All the boulders, overhangs, and crevices were fascinating. Deep groves of spruce hid grottos and chasms of rock. We passed an overhang with a deep cave, which appeared to be a bear cave. Our suspicions were confirmed by massive bear tracks that meandered through the woods.
Even though the balds were not the goal on this hike, we couldn’t stay away. Ryan and I scrambled up a ledge and we were immediately impressed. I never get tired of this place. It is wild, primeval, untamed. Alpine-like forests covered the balds. Brilliant sunshine reflected off of the white bedrock. Plateaus rose in the distance. Ryan found a bounty of red ripe teaberries. Surprisingly, there was little snow, having been blown away.
We enjoyed the scenery, warming in the sun out of the wind. There was no noise, just the wind. An eagle or hawk landed in the bald behind us, a turkey vulture flew overhead.
We descended from the balds, exploring the spruce forests and cliffs. There were several overhangs, crevices, and a frozen spring that formed a smooth mound as it flowed from a fracture in a cliff.
Ryan and I left the cliffs and headed north to another tier of ledges and boulders. We followed some old forest roads before bushwhacking down the steep slope though mountain laurel. There were partial views of the valley below. We returned to White Brook and completed the hike.