Goose Eye Mountain – 10/18/2015

Old Speck from Goose Eye Mountain, Maine
Old Speck from Goose Eye Mountain

After finishing Rich’s NH 4000 footers, we wanted to get onto something we hadn’t done yet, and hopefully take in a nice new view of the Presi’s.  We also wanted low mileage – the legs were still burning from Jefferson.

Goose Eye fit the bill – in Maine, where we haven’t hiked much compared to New Hampshire, open summit with Presi views (among others), and a 6.1 mile round trip on the Goose Eye Trail.  The forecast even looked agreeable with clear skies and warm ground temps.  Higher up was supposed to be very cold, but that’s also something we were looking forward to.

The drive down Success Pond Road from Berlin was a blast, although it might not have been so much fun in a sedan.  This was supposed to be very difficult to navigate, but it’s not.  Take a look at Google Maps the night before you head up, and just stay on the main road.  99% of the side roads where you could go wrong are blocked with boulders or gates.

Usually with a short mileage hike, you’re going to be on some very steep terrain.  This trail has some steep sections, but overall, if you’re used to hiking 4000 footers in NH, this one is a treat.  The trail couldn’t have been prettier the entire way through, especially at the start.

Leaves in a stream on Goose Eye Mountain
Brook crossing early on the Goose Eye Trail

The first falling snow I had been in this season looked mighty nice on the newly fallen leaves.

New snow on colorful fallen leaves on Goose Eye Trail
New snow on a 2 mile carpet of leaves

And – that snow was bringing down the leaves that were still in the trees.  It was essentially snowing leaves, and it was the only sound to be heard.  Zen.

This made me want to sit cross legged under one of these trees for a few days, but instead we decided to check out the rest of the trail.

I always enjoy realizing when I’ve transitioned from the maples and beeches of the hardwood forest up into the zone of the firs and spruce.  Sometimes it’s gradual and you wonder when it happened.  On this trail, it’s like someone drew a line.  Actually, someone did.  The change happens on the border of NH and Maine, and reflects not only altitude and exposure but different forest management practices.  On the Maine side, this area is part of the protected Mahoosuc Public Reserved Land.

As we continued up, the trail tended to be more steep, and we maneuvered through ice here and there.  We were in thick cloud and it was obvious we were missing out on some great views.

Finally we approached the big bare rock dome of the summit.  It was clearly very windy and likely cold above us, so we layered up before moving on.  This turned out to be a good call.  Although the wind was at our backs climbing toward the summit (practically blowing us uphill), it became cold quickly.

Approaching the summit of Goose Eye Mountain, Maine
Approaching the summit of Goose Eye

Fingers and faces chilled very quickly on the summit, but the cloud cleared out right as we reached it, so we had to stay and look around.  Looking back down the route we came up, swaths of cloud would blow up from below, making visibility nil, and then clear out, and repeat over and over again.  It was beautiful.

It’s always a good feeling to watch snow “falling” uphill toward you.

As parts of the sky cleared and others clouded in over and over again, we eventually pieced together a great view of the surrounding area – Old Speck, Baldpate, the Carter Range, and more.

Clouds over neighboring mountains from Goose Eye
Cloud, clear, repeat

Descending from the summit was brutal – the same wind which had pushed us up there now punished our faces for the sketchy descent.  I didn’t break out the goggles, but if we had been exposed for any longer before reaching the trees, I would have.  My contact lenses were not happy with me after this.  It took a few minutes of heavy blinking to get them fully functional again.  Hard work.

Once back in the trees, it was a joyride back to the car.  It was great to be back in the zen zone again, and we took our time here.  There was a little more wind than before, so it wasn’t quite as peaceful, which would put it at only about a 99 out of 100 on the peace scale.  Not a bad way to end a hike.

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