Peaks: Goose Eye (3870', NEHH), Goose Eye - East Peak (3794'), Mount Carlo (3565')
Mileage: 8.5 miles
Elevation Gain: 3200ft
Book Time: 5hr 50min (actual 5hr 25min)
With winter's last traces having finally faded away and closed-for-winter roads once again open, it's back to working on the New England 100 Highest for me. I hope to finish this list sometime this summer, with 15 peaks remaining entering 2014. First up this year turned out to be Goose Eye, a great peak in the middle of the always-fun Mahoosuc Range and just over the New Hampshire border into Maine.
After a nasty experience on the rough logging road known as Success Pond Road last Spring where I was barely able to manage a 10mph average over 12+ miles of rough road in my low-clearance car (and I was pushing it in many places), I had resigned myself to driving into Maine for the Eastern approach via the Wright Trail. Not that there is necessarily anything wrong with that trail (I've never done it and don't know many folks that have), but I really wanted to do the Goose Eye-Mount Carlo Loop from Success Pond Road (more red-lining that way :) ). I was pleasantly pleased to hear in late May that the first 3 miles of the road had been regraded this Spring, as that was the worst part from last year. I was cautiously optimistic that I could make it in without beating up my car, so I decided to give it a shot.
The weather for this day was supposed to be cloudy and even a little drizzly early, but clearing out nicely in the afternoon, so knowing the hike wasn't super-long and sunset is late this time of the year, I slept in and took a leisurely drive up North, shooting for a roughly 11AM departure. The road was actually in far better shape than I could have ever imagined, with lots of re-grading having been done (mostly on the first 3 miles, but in a few other spots further out as well), and almost no large rocks sticking up. Without even pushing it, I was comfortably able to maintain a 20mph average, slowing down below 15mph in only 1 or 2 spots to deal with small ditches that were easily dealt with. It took 25 minutes to drive the 8.1 miles to the Carlo Col Trailhead, my starting and ending point.
Starting off just before 11, the skies were just starting to clear up a little, and it looked like my timing was going to work out well. After only 1/4-mile on the Carlo Col Trail, I hung a left off the road that the first part of that trail follows and picked up the Goose Eye Trail which would take me to the summit. The lower portion of this trail had several stream crossings that were wide but not deep and thus easily managed, and then a TON of mud. Soon the trail began to climb, and passed a sign that must have marked the state line (I found a survey marker indicating as much next to it), but the sign itself was blank.
|Clearing skies as I started out on the Carlo Col Trail|
|One of a couple of early semi-major stream crossings on the Goose Eye Trail|
|I imagine the sign once stapled on here indicated the NH/ME state line|
|State Line survey marker near the above sign|
|Young hardwoods low on the Goose Eye Trail|
|First views high on the Goose Eye Trail|
|Old Speck in the distance|
|The infamous Mahoosuc Notch|
|Pano from Goose Eye over the Success Pond Road vicinity|
|Goose Eye East Peak|
|A couple people hanging out on Goose Eye's East Peak|
|Mahoosuc Range heading North|
|Old Speck, Mahoosuc Arm, Mahoosuc Mountain, Fulling Mill Mountain in order from furthest to nearest|
|Kilkenny Range - 3-bumped Terrace, then Cabot, The Bulge, and The Horn left to right|
|Southern Kilkenny Range - Starr King, Waumbek, and the 3 Weeks left to right|
The trail off of Goose Eye towards Mount Carlo has a section with a steep ladder mounted to a cliff face and several steel rungs mounted into the rock below it. Descending this wasn't actually that bad thankfully, but I forgot to take some good pictures of this spot, which was one of the reasons I had wanted to do this route! Oops!
|The main peak of Goose Eye from the East Peak|
|The Baldpates in Grafton Notch|
|Cool-looking alpine bog stretch heading North on the Mahoosuc Trail|
|Pano from the East Peak of Goose Eye looking towards the main peak and Mount Carlo|
|Looking down the ladder|
|Do you see the ladder?|
|How about now?|
|Goose Eye from a shoulder en-route to Mount Carlo|
I made a quick stop at the Carlo Col Shelter just off the Carlo Col Trail, which had a lot of bags of what I assume to be material for the composting toilet stacked right in front of it. From the shelter, the initial descent down the trail constantly crossed, recrossed, and often followed down the middle of a stream bed. But eventually it turned into a nice, smooth trail down with some avoidable mud, before popping out onto a road for the last stretch back to the car. #86 down!