The section of trail from Great Brook to Pleasant Street is beautiful and fairly easy to navigate without a map. Finally one map down and nine miles in the books! Onto the Webb Forest (lots of climbing) for the next six miles and ending up in the town of Wilmot and NH 4a. This section of the trail is very well marked and easy to navigate but you do need to pay attention as the Webb forest is chock full of different trails and if you are not careful you can easily take a wrong turn onto a spur trail. This area is pretty remote so you definitely want to be pretty alert out there. Getting over to NH 4a was rather uneventful but the next section of trail was by far my favorite of the SRKG.
The Bog Mountain trail section is very well maintained and extremely well marked. I would recommend this section to anyone looking for a FUN, rewarding day hike. The trail up the mountain was a good grade and I ended up speed hiking this section more than running it due to the steepness. Once on the rocky summit I was able to start running again, but leaf-covered rock proved treacherous. I went down hard once right onto a rock pile. At this point, I shed my tights and was only running in shorts and an OR swift wick tee… perfect! The next section was very pretty and then you are directed onto the Patterson Farm section of trail that will pop you out on Eagle Pond Rd. in Danbury. Road running is not my favorite but it is amazing how much faster you can tick off miles on dirt roads as opposed to the trails. Still, you can’t beat the remoteness of a beautiful section of trail. I then ran up New Canada Rd. towards Ragged Mountain, which would be my first “big” climb of the day. I am guessing here, but I would say that it is a solid 2,500 foot climb from NH 4. This section was both exciting and a little daunting as it would be the most remote that I would be all day. I literally saw no one for the next two hours of navigating this section from New Canada to Proctor Academy. Much of this section is pretty unrunnable as it is hand over fist climbing… FUN Stuff! There were many stream crossings and this is where I was able to refill off a pristine stream up high on the mountain. Got my feet extremely wet when a rock toppled over that I was standing on but my Darn Toughs actually prefer being wet. Can’t say enough about these socks!
Kearsarge Mtn from the Top of Ragged Mtn…
So another pretty hard six miles and I am down the mountain and in the Town of Andover at Proctor Academy. So I had covered about 30 miles at this point in the day, now to get over to Kearsarge Mtn and call it day. The run from Proctor to Twist Rd is really tucked in the woods and basically class 6 roads. Kind of boring from a runner’s perspective but awesome if you’re a jeeper. I literally ran into a 4×4 club of jeepers (8 in all) that were crawling down some pretty amazing stuff. Usually I would be annoyed by their presence but instead marveled at the ability of the drivers to drive some of that crazy terrain.
After another 6 miles I finally popped out at Twist Rd only 1 mile from Winslow State Park and the portal to Kearsarge Mtn. Along the way ,a few good friends live at the top of Twist Hill and were nice enough to refill my water bladder for me… thanks Jay and Richard!
I have done the Kearsarge Mtn (Winslow Trail) climb up Kearsarge probably 20-30 times in my life but it still is very fun. I ran probably half of the 1 mile up the mountain as it gets pretty steep and hairy in a few sections. I topped out on Kearsarge at about 3:00 pm. I knew that I had about 4 miles left to get down the mountain on the Lincoln trail which is also kind of technical and now it’s getting late. I called my wife real quick on the summit to let her know that I would be at Kearsarge Valley Rd at about 4 pm. I pretty much put my head down and hauled a** for the next hour to get there in time. So day over at 4 pm when my wife arrived with my two kiddos.
Wow what a day! Wish I could have done the whole thing in one shot but that will happen next summer. For now I plan on finishing the second half of the SRKG either in a few weeks or more likely next spring…. (9 hours/ 41 miles and 8000-9000 feet of climbing on the day) not extremely fast but I am happy with it! I am pretty confident in an under-20-hour entire circumnavigation…..
Touch base soon with new winter adventures.