Zealand Trail to Ethan Pond Trail to Thoreau Falls

thoreau falls

It was a beautiful day to ramble off to see some falls.  We trekked out to Thoreau Falls via Zealand Trail to Ethan Pond Trail to Thoreau Falls Trail to the falls.

The first 2.5 miles on the Zealand Trail is a comfortable stroll hopping over rocks, avoiding roots, viewing the  occasional peaks to the mountains and enjoying the easiness of the trail.



As we neared the junction, we could hear the roaring of Zealand Falls.


At 2.5 miles we began trekking on the Ethan Pond Trail.


This trail truly enchanted us.  We loved the narrow corridor that was the path.

P1030261 P1030263A little over a mile on the Ethan Pond Trail the view opened up and I couldn’t stop grinning. The views, the beauty, the wilderness, the boulders, were simply beautiful.


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We then took a little side venture on the Zeacliff trail, just to get different views.

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We headed back to the Ethan Pond Trail and continued on, marveling at the immense boulders.


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After this amazing open space we returned to the forest. We followed corridors that were simple and refreshing.


We then turned off onto the Thoreau Falls Trail to spend time at the falls.

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Just a few hundred yards down we came to the falls.  We spent about 40 minutes, lunching and exploring.  These falls were raging due to the recent rains.  I even laid down for a while, listening to the thundering of the falls.

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We returned the way we came, just capturing a few images on the way back.

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We were out there for 5 hours, 4 hours and 20 minutes of it, active hiking time for a total of 9.4 miles.  We loved the Ethan Pond Trail  for (anytime I get a piece of the A.T., I get giddy), its remoteness, beauty and solitude.  The Thoreau Falls were beautiful and I have a feeling we will return.

Mt. Monroe – Sept. 28, 2013


After the typical early morning debate of where to hike, we finally settled on visiting Mt. Monroe.  Mike attempted this once before, but he didn’t summit.  Today seemed to be the perfect day to attack Monroe.  Our route was up the Ammonoosuc Ravine trail to Mt. Monroe Loop to Crawford Path to Edmands Path, ending with a two mile road walk back to the car.


This was my second time on the Ammo and I love it. This would be Mike’s third time.  My first experience was when we tackled Mount Washington over a year ago.  The first 2.1 miles to the Gem pool was an easy walk in the woods.  We passed people, people passed us.  It was going to be a busy day on the trail.



I adore the views out on the lower sections of the trail.


At 2.1 miles we reached the Gem Pool, it took us an hour and 20 minutes to reach here.  At the Pool, the pile up started.


At this section we ran smack dab into an Army Platoon.  We thanked them for serving as we passed the group on their way to Mount Washington.  It fed my ego to pass a bunch of military people, I am in better condition than I thought.  We talked with the Sergeant leading them and he told us it was 41st time going up to Washington.  Very impressive.  The leader was funny, he said anyone can do this trail even if  you’re fat, but if you are injured you shouldn’t do it.  He had sent four guys back down because one was injured and shouldn’t have been on the hike.


Another group we passed, we worried about all day. A few young couples from Australia and Boston were making their first run at Mt. Washington.  One young couple were really hurting on the first section of the Gem Pool.  The group kept mentioning maybe taking the cog down once they reached the summit. We only hope they had tickets, because I’m pretty sure the cog is packed as it being peak foliage season.

I am not a fan of ladders, but this one isn’t so bad.


Time for the views to open up and start the bear crawl on the ledges.


The sergeant told his platoon to be billy goats on this section.  Good advice.


We could start to see the towers of Mount Washington.


Time to work up our way up.  Choose carefully.


I love the Ammo because of the views that take my breath away.


We kept running into a French Canadian group.  They needed to be reminded of trail manners.  A few times they would stop and sit blocking the path.  One of them was a smoker who kept stopping for smoking breaks, Yuck I hate smelling your cigarette smoke, stinky hiker body order is  preferred over cigarette smoke.


We reach the Lake of the Clouds hut in one hour, 45 minutes from the Gem Pool.


I look up and there is Mt. Monroe waiting for us.


Here I come hut.


The hut was closed.  We knew that, some people didn’t.  Still a perfect spot to take the pack off, eat lunch and people, doggie watch.


This dog was the sweetest pit bull.  Once she had her back on, she was ready to hit the trail to go to Mt. Washington.


After a quick lunch we hit the Mt. Monroe Loop


Looking back at the hut.


The well laid path.


The platoon made it.

Watching the cog go down.





Mike heading up to Monroe.



The Canadian group sprinted up Monroe to tag it before heading off to Washington.  They had fun coming down.


We looked up to the summit and had this view.  We wondered would we have the summit to ourselves?


I looked over to a ridge and could make out the line of cairns.


Zoomed in view of the cairns, created to guide the hiker.

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We did it, made it to the top of Monroe.  I was so happy and the day was beautiful.


Time to continue the loop over Little Monroe.


The views left us speechless.  We could see so far off.



Looking down on the Crawford Path, that skirts around Monroe.



This is the type of trail, I truly dislike because of the risk of breaking an ankle by easily missing a rock and stepping between two rocks, snapping an ankle.  Luckily this was a short section.


I fell in love with this cairn.




Looking back at Mt. Monroe.  We had the summit to ourselves and now there was a crowd.


I admit it, I did skip on this portion.  Loved the ridge walking.






We didn’t realize how much we had climbed from the Lake of the Clouds Hut, until we looked back and spotted it way down there.




We finally joined up with the Crawford Path.  What a history this trail has.








We spied Mt. Eisenhower off in the distance.  We summited that in May of 2012 (sorry no trip report).


Can you see the path to the right in the pine trees?  That is where we are going, to Edmands Path.





Where two historic trails meet.  We only have a little over 5 miles to reach our car.   At this point my legs started to feel fatigued.


I do enjoy Edmands Path, even with the rocky trail.


Looking back to where we were.


The trickiest section of Edmands is crossing this little waterfall area.  When we did it over a year ago, it was a bit icy.






We reach the parking lot, but our car is over two miles away in another lot.  We tried to hitch a ride, but no luck.  One car stopped to ask directions for the cog and when Mike asked for a ride, they said no, sorry no room…ummm there is room in your backseat, only one person is there.  Guess the pretty people didn’t want two sweaty hikers in their car.  Luckily the views on the road walk were nice.  My incentive to move quickly was the restroom waiting in the Ammo lot for me.  The only problem with the hut closed and open ridge walking there is no where to discreetly pee.


It was a stunning day on the trail. It was one of those hikes that will surely be in my top 10 list of best hikes ever.

The Details: 8 hrs. 9.7 miles and just beautiful (minus the road walk).

mt monroe

Mt. Washington (August 23, 2012)- The Rock Pile I Needed to Conquer

The Observatory

Throughout my life I’ve taken trips to the White Mountains and have gazed upon the looming Mt. Washington.  In the past three years, Mike and I have had the opportunity to spend more time up here and every time we pass Mt. Washington I wonder if I could hike it.  For some reason this mountain instilled a bit of fear in me (perhaps from reading Not Without Peril: 150 Years of Misadventure on the Presidential Range of New Hampshire by Nicholas Howe).  I had to challenge myself to see if I could conquer this large rock pile.

We’ve had perfect weather up here this week and we decided Thursday would be the day we tackled the beast.  We decided on a loop trail.  We have done the mileage before, we have had the experience of tough ascents, so what was there to worry about?  I could do this, I kept telling myself.

We parked at the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail parking area.  On a Thursday morning at 7:30 a.m. the lot was not full.  Parking here and not at the cog added on another 1.4 miles to the trip. Keep that fact in mind when your legs are ready to give out on the way back (Jewell trail) and you think you only have .3 to the parking area (that is to the cog parking area) you really have a bit more.

The first 2.1 miles to the Gem Pool were an easy walk in the woods.  Some parts of the trail had seen the wrath of  Storm Irene.

At 2.1 miles we reached the Gem Pool.  We rested here with another group of hikers that we would spend most of the day leap-frog hiking with.

Gem Pool

I knew that the next section of the Ammo Ravine Trail would be the toughest part of this entire hike.  Smith and Dickerman’s words from the White Mountain Guide kept surging into my brain “very steep and rough and is likely to prove arduous to many hikers…”  With a deep breath I attacked this section.

One of a few stairs

Along the way we passed softly cascading falls and when we turned around we had stunning views out.

We finally approached the final push up to the hut.

Lake of the Clouds Hut

We arrived at the Hut and I had the chance to reflect on that part of the trail, I just attacked.  For me this trail had it all; views, rock scrambles, ledges, waterfalls and forests.  I fell in love with it and never once swore at the trail. I would hike the Ammonoosuc Ravine trail anytime, well except in wet and icy conditions.

We spent some time at the Hut, chatting with the group we kept bumping into.  We looked over at Monroe, but decided that beast could wait for another day (another chance for me to hike the Ammo).

Mt. Monroe

After snacking and putting on some warm clothes, we struck out on the Crawford Path to the summit of Mt. Washington.  We had 1.5 miles to go.

One of the Lakes
The trail

As we trekked along,  the summit kept playing hide and seek in the fog.

There is the Mountain in the fog

We continued our hike, watching people ahead of us wind their way around and looking back watching people catch up to us.

Looking back from where we came

As we approached the summit, the excitement grew within me.  I couldn’t believe that I was actually going to summit this rock pile.  I knew though the journey was not over once we reached the summit.  We still had to descend and no trip, for me, isn’t successful until I reach the car.

Once we reached the summit, I wanted my picture taken by the summit sign.  Mike didn’t need to have his taken.  The line wasn’t long and I only shoved one kid out-of-the-way for not standing in line and jumping in front of everyone.  I really think there should be two signs, one for hikers and another one for people who are transported up by other means than their own two feet.


We hung around, walking the observation deck, eating our lunch inside, chatting with fellow hikers and realizing we weren’t physically drained yet.  Yes, one guy hiked up in two hours and he had to be in his sixties. The weather at 1 p.m. was 48, winds out of the west at 28 mph, gusts to 36 mph and windchill was 40.

Mike getting his gloves out.

We decided it was time to descend. We left via the Trinity Heights Connector trail, that would bring us to the Gulfside Trail.

Looking to the left we could see the Northern Presidentials.

Northern Presidentials

After the connector we joined the Gulfiside trail.  On this trail you cross over the Cog Railroad.

Here comes the cog

This trail overlooked the Great Gulf Wilderness.  This was Mike’s favorite part of the trail.

Overlooking the Great Gulf Wilderness
Enjoying the Gulfside Trail

While on this trail you have to go around Mt. Clay, which required going up.

Didn’t expect to go up

We eventually met up with the Jewell Trail.

on the home stretch

I will tell you from this sign until we hit tree line, I wasn’t happy.  This was brutal for me and it stopped being fun.  My feet started to get tired, it was so much rock to be on, judging the footing, making sure I landed on a rock and not an empty space.  Looking out, it seemed like we weren’t making any progress, but at least the views out were beautiful.

Finally we hit tree line and my attitude was adjusted for the better.

hitting tree line and warmer temps
not so rocky anymore

As we descended deeper in the forest the footing became easier and we had a chance to peek out to see our trail up to Lake of the Cloud Hut.

Lake of the Clouds Hut

We did meet up with the party we kept leapfrogging with on the trail.  They had taken a break and just wanted to end the hike.  We all agreed our least favorite part of the trail was the rock section of the Jewell trail.  The group asked how much further to the parking lot (they were at the cog), we said another half mile and that energized them. We set out together and enjoyed this section.

We parted ways at the parking sign, they only had a bit to go and we still had another .7 miles to go.  At this point, it became just put one foot in front of the other kind of hike.

Even Mike is tired at this point

We finished finally after 8 hours and 48 minutes.  We did it. We climbed a huge rock pile, had an amazing time and I conquered the fear I had towards that mountain.  Now when we drive by it, I can say hello and yup I conquered you.


The Details: Parked at Ammonoosuc Ravine Trailhead (which adds on more mileage than books have). Hiked Ammmonoosuc Ravine to Lake of the Clouds Hut to Crawford Path to the Summit of Washington to Trinity Heights Connector to Gulfside Trail to Jewell Trail.  10.2 miles,  8 hours 48 minutes, 4200 elevation gain.

Mt. Liberty-A View for All (Aug. 20, 2012)

Just one view from Mt. Liberty

Today we hiked to Mt. Liberty with new hiking friends, Amy and her dad Paul.  Amy and I have been facebook friends, living in the same state, but had never met in person. Today was our day to meet and hike.  Amy and Paul are accomplished hikers, having completed the 48. Mike and I aren’t list followers, more of “we will hike it if it has a view” people.  Amy suggested Mt. Liberty and we were off.

We greeted each other at The Basin parking area at 8:30 and quickly hit the trail.  The first part was a walk on a bike path until it meet up with the Liberty Springs Trail.

This section of the trail ascends calmly and is comfortable under foot, which on the descent was welcomed from the jarring of the rocks.  At 1.1 miles we crossed a brook, which was an easy rock hop.

Immediately after the brook crossing you ascend a rock staircase.  From here on out it is a steady climb up on a rocky path.  It was a slow climb for me and being in a party of long-legged people, I slowed them down. But going a bit slower allows one to notice all the little things that exist in the forest.

At 2.6 miles we reached The Liberty Spring Tentsite. We spent time chatting with the caretaker and then continued our climb.

Beware of Bears

Then we hit the steep ascent up to the Franconia Ridge Trail, we turned right for Mt. Liberty.

Anytime we hit a little level part, my legs rejoiced and it gave me a bit energy to keep going.

ahhh a level part

Amy is training for the Goruck, so she kept encouraging me with the mantra “Embrace the Suck!!” With that saying, my visualizing I was a mountain goat and these level areas, it made it easier to push on.  I tend to peter out the last 1/4 mile of any hike that is a steady uphill climb, even though I know I have a wonderful reward at the top.

We had our first peek to some amazing views before the final assault to the summit.

First view out

We reach the first false summit to look up and see where we have to go.  Amy was waiting for us to arrive.

We are coming Amy

We arrived and the 360 views were simply incredible.  To see all the peaks, I felt as if I was in the center of a mountain universe.

After lunching,  snapping photos and sending tweets, we descended.

Amy and I sending tweets

On our way down, we meet a few thru hikers and groups of students coming up to camp on the platforms.  Always fun to chat with people on the trail.

As we ended the hike, Amy noticed a path off to the side that would cut off some of the bike path walk for us.  We were all game to try it and avoid the hard surface of the path.  We welcomed the extra time in the woods and it did cut off some path walk.

This was a fabulous day, hiking with new friends, bagging another 4,000 that had the most wonderful views and just being outdoors.

The Details: 6.85 miles from The Basin parking lot. 5 hours 48 minutes, total time,  elevation gain of 3,250 feet. 360 views

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Since 2010 has begun, I have created my own challenges,  faced challenges out of my control, and watched others struggle with their own challenges.  Saturday I overcame a challenge Mike and I set up for us, a long loop hike up to Mount Greylock in Massachusetts.

We began our trek via the Hopper Trail inside of the Reservation.  The trail started innocently enough by a cow farm, where an escapee calf came out to greet us.  Luckily the little fellow wasn’t a hiker, so he stayed near the barn.

I really believed during the planning stages of this hike, the challenged we put ourselves up against was mileage.  Different sources referenced this hike being between 10 and 13 miles, which would put it as our longest one yet.  I was only half right, thinking mileage was our challenge.  The Hopper Trail challenged me in ways I never expected.  For lack of a better word, it was a strenuous uphill.

As I chugged along, stopping frequently to catch my breath. I could only think my job has thrown me some challenges this year that have tested my strength of character.  If I could deal with those challenges and not give up, I could do this.  I learned this year to ask for help and believe in other’s encouragement.  So I for once listened to Mike’s encouraging words to push me mentally up that trail.

After 2.4 miles we made it to Sperry Road Campsite and I congratulated myself for not giving up.  I realize my job this year has more obstacles that are coming my way, but I will remember to use other’s shoulders to support me and let their encouraging words guide me along.   If I can make it to the end of this demanding trail, then my job’s problems will no longer be challenges I can’t face.

At Sperry Road Campsite we then connected to the Appalachian Trail to the summit.  I believe when we face challenges we are rewarded.  To me this was the reward at the end of the Hopper Trail.  It wasn’t too demanding, had some beautiful scenes and the aromas of the forest flooded me with memories of fresh cut Christmas trees.

The summit was inspiring because the only inhabitants of this area worked hard for their right to be there, the roads weren’t open yet.  Challenges make us struggle, make us appreciate our growth more and if we rise to the challenge, meet it we feel proud.

At the summit, we rested, snacked and aired out.

We still had 7 plus miles to conquer. All of sudden my panic meter went off, we have 7 and more miles to do, how can I do it? One of personal challenges is I’m great at psyching myself out, so on this trek I just told myself stop it, you can do it.  I knew I had my friend, Karen believing in me and I hate to let people down. So with that realization, I just set my mind to do this.  Isn’t facing a physical challenge mostly dependent on the mental belief you can or cannot do it?

We continued off of the summit via the A.T. Down, down, down we went.

Finally we reached a point where we leveled off and had a stroll through the woods being rewarded by wildflowers and the overwhelming scent of pine.

Then we had to go uphill to Mount Williams, at 2.3 miles from the summit.  It was a rocky road to the summit, without a spectacular view as a reward.

Sometimes we expect our reward to be grand and we miss something smaller that is even better.  As I reflect on this, I realize our reward to this uphill was chatting with the Appalachian Trail volunteer of this trail section.  We swapped stories of wild flowers sprouting up and his quest for some rare plants.

We traveled the remaining 1.2 miles to the Money Brook Trail.  Once we reached the Money Brook Trail we had only 3.5 miles to go.  Only…..I’ve decided when facing challenges, only is an ugly word.  This was a trail that started off peacefully, relaxing and unassuming.  Mike looked at the GPS and realized in this last segment we still had to descend only 1,000 feet.  See that word only…here is one descent…

Ok, the descent resulted in splashing in the Money Brook, how refreshing.

Then I looked up. Up I tell you, we had to go up. Who put this up here?  I thought immediately about my friends facing challenges they never ever saw coming this year.  Those are the worst challenges, the unexpected ones that require you to stand on the sidelines, not being able to control a damn thing. I did what my friends did this year, pull themselves up, struggle with the challenge and keep chugging away.

The trail leveled out, but a constant annoying challenge started for the last 1.75 miles, two blisters, one on each heel.  I should have stopped and attended to them, but sometimes I think I can overcome an obstacle, by bulldozing my way through it, instead of attending and relieving the minor irritation.  Life lesson to be learned.

We all have our daily challenges, small challenges. This last segment was a wide, even trail full of wild flowers that we had not encountered before.   Focusing on that beauty, putting the petty annoyance of the blisters behind me, we ambled until we could smell the finish, literally.  The cows were nearby.

Reflecting on my lessons earned on this trail (not learned), I turned to the view of the Hopper:

The challenges that others place in your path are demanding, unexpected and heart wrenching.  I much prefer the challenges I set before myself because it allows me to set the course for my personal development and I find that so much more rewarding.

The details:  11. 4 miles, 7.5 hours, elevation gain of 2760 feet.  We went from Hopper Trail (hard, be in good cardio shape), to the Appalachian Trail to the Money Brook Trail, then connect to the Hopper for the last .2 miles.

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The Mountain Meets the Memory

I originally planned to hike Mount Everett on Father’s Day, as a tribute to my father, Everett, who passed away over a decade ago.  As usual life had other plans for me and I found myself slogging up Mount Everett on a beautiful April day.

Wondering if I would receive a sign of my father’s spirit watching over me, Mike and I  zipped along the back roads of Connecticut into the Berkshires.  As soon as we pulled into the tiny parking area of Race Brook Falls Trail, I was slammed in the gut by the realization my dad was with me.  Only something that would have happened to my father happened to us.  A stranger stopped and asked us if we would drive him to the Undermountain Trail, as he wanted to do a point to point.  We said sure, it was just the right and the kind thing to do.  Something my dad would have  done for a stranger.  You see, my father was a generous man, especially to strangers.   Some years at our Thanksgiving table we would have a stranger share the day with us.  My dad picked up these strays in his travels as an insurance man and later as a food vendor. Everyone was made to feel welcomed and part of our family, it was important to my father that people be surrounded by family love.

So what would be the next reminder of my father on this trail?  Perhaps taking the least expected path in life and finding great joy in that?  We started hiking after dropping Rick, the stranger off and shortly on the trail sounds of rushing water jammed our ears.  We knew we had a few stream crossings on this adventure and the first one was close at hand.  What a beautiful brook that awaited us to cross.  We rock hopped and headed up straight away on the blue trail.

Mike and I noticed a sign that informed us “loop to lower falls”, a little further up.  This wasn’t on our map or in our plans.  A quick decision was made and off we went to travel this path and we were rewarded with stunning lower falls nestled into a pine needle forest floor. 

My father,  in his late 50s abruptly retired from selling insurance and became a hot dog vendor.  He took an unexpected path in his life and was rewarded with being his own boss and financial security. Glad I followed his guidance of taking the path you want and not what others deem as the one you should take.

The trail wasn’t clearly blazed but as we were scrambling up the falls we found blue/red trail markers.

We followed them till they lead us back to the blue trail.  The path guided us to Race Brook Upper Falls, a dramatic drop of water cascading down.  These falls were powerful and playful at the same time. 

My dad’s given name was Everett Lee, but everyone called him Curly.  Everett means “strong as a wild boar” and Curly was due to my dad’s shocking curly/wavy hair but it really encompassed his flirty/fun side.  If my dad wasn’t represented here on our path to hiking Everett, I don’t know where then?

After leaving the falls, we meandered through a pine forest, silence stinging our ears and pine freshness teasing our noses.

We came up on Race Brook Falls campground, complete with platforms and a privy.  Word of caution here, use nature’s outhouse if possible…that was a scary outhouse, used for other things more than a pee break.   This was at the 1.6 mile point.

Next we were to meet the junction of the Appalachian Trail at 1.9 miles that would guide us to Mount Everett.

This was a rugged gruff climb up and it kicked me in the butt, but yet rewarded me with comfort in the end.  How reminiscent of the relationship I had with my father.

My dad was tough and could be a real grouch.  He wasn’t polished; he was honest and raw, just like the rock face that I was climbing up.  He frustrated me as a teenager and I’m sure I frustrated him more as a teenager. But as in life and this climb up, I could stop to regroup, refresh, forgive and continue upwards. 

When I started to bonk on the trail, I stopped, ate and started singing “Home on the Range” in my head.  My dad had two songs he sang to all six of us kids and I’m sure we all still sing them to ourselves when we need the support of our dad.  The food and song pushed me on.

I hiked on because my dad never gave up and he wouldn’t want me to wimp out.  He was a man who at 18 entered World War II.  He was stationed in the Pacific arena on the U.S.S. Greenling after Pearl Harbor.  He faced many hardships, but was a proud man. If I couldn’t do this simple climb, that what kind of daughter did he raise?  He taught all of us to be strong, believe in ourselves and persevere.

At the top finally, we were rewarded with views of Mount Race, Round Mountain and Mount Frissel.  It was a clear day and way off in the distance the Catskills peeked through.  For all the gruffness, huffing and puffing, it is the positives of our relationship I remember the most and hold dearest to my heart.

Dad was the one who took me to my first professional ballet experience, summer mornings he always treated me  to breakfast in a restaurant before dropping me off to camp and in high school we enjoyed watching General Hospital together.  It is the time we spent sharing moments, little pieces of life  and talking about nothing and everything that remain in my soul.

Yup, the rock face was a hard hike but the views surrounding us made that climb up a distance memory.I was able to look out and reminiscence about previous hikes on those mountains that filled me with a sense of accomplishment and joy.

I made it to the top of Mount Everett as a pilgrimage to a memory of a man who was gritty, rough, playful, supportive, frustrating and soft hearted.  My father, Everett, dad, Curly was a good person, who could want for more?

Until the next hike…

The Details: Out and back from Race Brook Falls Trail head to Mount Everett.  6 miles and 5 hours with about an hour of rest/phototaking.  We started on Blue Trail to Loop Trail Red/Blue back to Blue trail to the Appalachian Trail junction. Turn north and continue to climb up to Mount Everett on the white A.T. . It took us an hour to climb up the rock part of Everett and only 40 minutes to descend it.  We returned the way we came, except didn’t do the lower falls loop back, once we hit the blue trail from the A.T. we remained on that. Strenuous climbing up to Everett.

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