King Ravine Trail - September 16, 2017
My alarm went off at 5 am and I quickly had 2 fried eggs and ham for breakfast, no time to drink my coffee so I brought it on the road. With that I set out to Lowe's store at about 5:40 am. The drive was foggy, but uneventful and I arrived just after 8am.
At Lowe's I bought two candy bars and paid a dollar to park. Very reasonable and the man there was pleasant despite a recent google review saying otherwise. I will definitely make this a pit stop location in the future. Note there is 4G service there and I texted my mom to let her know I was heading out.
The trail head is just across the street and by 8:30 I was off. Within a quarter mile I could already feel a lactic acid burn in my legs. And my left kneecap felt ...off (it always does when I walk at lunch). Uh oh, not a good sign. I huffed and puffed my way past a group and solo hiker, by then my legs had warmed up.
A little over a mile in is the start of the King Ravine trail. It starts off quite nice going up and down through a lush forest. Some places had very slick and mossy rocks as it had rained the night before. Shortly in I came across the first stream and water fall and I stopped to take a picture and take in the scenery. From here onward it gets steadily steeper. And not too much farther is the Mossy falls waterfall, you can hear it for probably 30 minutes before you see it. I hopped out onto the rocks to get up close, took another picture, and soaked my wrists in the cold (very cold) water.
The first falls
I continued onwards and here it gets really steep. While I still had plenty of energy compared to later on in the hike, I would say this section was the most taxing part. Soon I got to a small overlook with a large flat table shaped rock next to it. I decided against jumping to this rock, although it did look like a nice place to lounge. At this point my heart was pounding and I decided to take another break. I measured my pulse at 186 bpm. After a short rest and a handful of nuts, my heart had settled down to a leisurely 156. Two other hikers passed me and I continued up just after them and we stopped to oggle the head wall together.
Looking out from the ravine floor
From the bottom we could just make out people going up the particular gully the trail follows. The three of us continued up together and I figured they would out pace me, but I kept up and chatted with them. I learned that they were also solo hikers who didn't know each other prior. The beginning of the head wall was easier than expected, a few big moves and some tricky maneuvers, but you are forced to move at a slower pace so it feels fine. Past this it requires a bit more physical exertion and feels like walking up and endless staircase. I tried to go on all fours as much as possible. At one point my feet both slipped out under me so I was glad to be doing that. I should also add we skipped the subway and ice caves, I'd like to check these out another day.
The higher you go the smaller and looser the rocks become. The exposure isn't too bad, but it is somewhat anxiety inducing. The possibility of a hiker above knocking a rock down was the scariest and there was a group above us. I wouldn't want to be there on a busy day. While going up I tried to be conscious of the people in front of me, and tried to walk on only the biggest rocks and knocked on them before stepping to avoid the hollow sounding and loose ones. It's otherwise great fun and you rise out of the valley quickly. The very end takes you up next to an enormous slab and then you are out and finally on secure footing between Mt. Madison and Mt. Adams.
Looking down from the top of the trail
Here we all went off towards Mt Adams, this time at different paces. I went pretty slowly here and the .7 miles or so to the summit felt long and difficult. The man from before had also slowed down considerably and we reached the summit about the same time before he went off to eat lunch and attempt Mt. Madison. The lady had already cleared the summit by the time we got there.
Mt Madison from top of King Ravine
A bit of fog was coming up the south side of the mountain, otherwise the weather was perfect and you could see in all directions. There was a group of French Canadians drinking beer at the top. I had my apple, which was delicious, and a handful of nuts which I downed with water to combat the dryness. I didn't feel great, maybe slightly dehydrated or not enough food. I just snapped a few more pictures and wandered down to find Lowe's path, not even noticing the sign at the summit.
Mt Madison from Mt Adams
I reached thunderstorm junction, signified by a gigantic cairn and saw a sign for Lowe's pointing up the mountain but not a double sided arrow pointing in the other direction. I got slightly confused because my (outdated) map showed several junctions, not one main one, and I had expected to go down Mt Adams via a different path and take a sharp turn. I took the most westerly trail down the north side of the ravine. A few hundred feet later was the junction and sign for Lowe's.
I went quite slow on the walk down because my knees were starting to feel worn out and also because the trail was quite steep. Once below the trees the rocks were also very slippery. And I thought Lowe's path would be an easy saunter down! Many places seemed just as treacherous as King Ravine only without the exposure. I stopped a few times and ate my candy bars. Below the trees its less interesting and so I mostly plodded along at a steady pace. I passed a sign for the Crag Camp, and then later passed by an AMC camp labeled only "Log Cabin" which was just off Lowe's, it's an open cabin some primitive bunks.
Mt Adams from Lowe's Path
Towards the end I photographed some mushrooms and saw what may be chaga growing. By 4pm I was back at the car and I lounged for about half an hour before heading out. Pretty good timing considering it said 8.5 hours hiking and 11 hours total time for the trip. On the way back I stopped at Onions Pub in Tilton, about 1.5 hours away, and had a burger and beer. My feet were raw and I had a large, but not painful blister between my big toe and pointer toe on both feet.
Is it chaga?
Total distance was between 9-10 miles. My map software says 8.6 miles, but the actual GPS tracks show a few extra curves in the path. Unfortunately it lost reception for the first wooded portion of Lowe's and King Ravine and intermittently throughout so I don't have an exact number. Another official looking website says 10.2 miles for the same hiking loop, I'll go with that.
Full loop on google earth satellite view
Time: 7 hours 30 minutes
Cumulative Elevation Gain: 4669'