View Full Version : Bread Loaf & Wilson via Skylight Trail 1/18/09

01-19-2009, 06:22 PM

Breadloaf & Wilson via Skylight Pond Trail

The winter TH is on The Natural Turnpike which is off of Route 125. We arrived at 7:45 and our party of 8 was off and hiking by 8:20. The Natural Turnpike (USFS forest Road 59) is gated here. The short spur road to the Skylight Pond TH is also gated requiring approximately extra 1 mile of road-walk.

There was 3-6 inches of new snow and it was deeper at elevation. Today we had a party of 8. Joe, Geoff, Jodee, Bill, Cathy, Mike, Joleen, and me. The trail was broken out to begin with, but this ended before too long. The party of 8 came in real handy as it enabled long rotations of trailbreaking when the going got tough. The trail starts out level for ¾ of a mile when it then starts to climb by switchbacks. The blue blazes were pretty faded and were difficult to spot in light snow conditions. The snow was now deeper and there was no longer any evidence of packed trail. Hunting for the blazes slowed our progress. We entered spruce forest at approximate 3000’ elevation where the trail was bit easier to follow, but now we were slowed down by spruce trees loaded down with old and new snow. We made it to the junction with the Long Trail. The Long Trail blazing was practically non-existent which really slowed us down as we struggled to find the right route.

We eventually came to a spot featuring two signs indicating N & S Long Trail close to the long skinny ridge to Bread Loaf summit. We visited Bread Loaf summit, returned to the signs and proceed down Long Trail to Emily Proctor Shelter. The blazes for Long Trail/AT were pretty fresh and plentiful along this section of the trail. Very different to what we’d experienced previously. Why the big difference?

In spite of the late hour and knowing we’d be coming out in the dark, we opted to continue on to Mount Wilson. A sign on the shelter indicated Mount Wilson and LT was out back of the shelter. We spent a lot of time searching around. Once again the blazes and trail appeared to be non-existent. We managed to locate an area with a sign indicating tenting area. We seemed to be following a trail, but it was barely detectable much of the time. We broke out compasses and studied maps and consulted the GPS. We worked our way up to the ridge for Mt Wilson and went up and over several bumps until we reached the end of the ridge. At most we observed 3 or 4 extremely faint white blazes along the way. Our maps didn’t indicate which bump was the summit and there were no signs of any kind so we hit them all. It seems a bit of an anticlimax not having a sign or a canister. We promptly turned around and began retracing our trail.

We made good time coming back. We reached junction with Skylight by 4:06 and were back at TH of Skylight by 5:10 and back to cars just before 6. By this time it was dark, but none of us used headlights on account it was now a road walk. This was close to a 10 hike. According to the GPS, this was close to 12 mile tramp with something like 3600' elevation gain. We were all really wiped. We convened for pizza and beer in Brandon before returning to White River Jct at 9:30.

Many thanks to Joe and Geoff for organizing and leading this trip. We all had a great time. I learned a lot about map & compass and GPS on both days.