Table Rock, Grafton Notch, ME

Have you ever changed your plans on a whim? For a planner like me, it can be a bit disconcerting. But that’s exactly what we did.

Our initial plan was to head to Little Concord Pond State Park to hike Bald and Speckled Mountains. We hadn’t hiked these particular trails since early last summer. We were well on our way to our destination 85 miles from home.

We talked about long summer weekends and where we wanted to hike. I suggested we hike the eastern segment of the Grafton Notch loop. Last spring we had hiked the 13-mile Western segment. It seemed fitting to finish the 21-mile Eastern Loop this year.

We reminisced about the trails in Grafton Notch and our failed attempt (due to time, not energy) to reach East Baldpate last summer. We talked about wanting to hike to Table Rock, a vista point on Bald Pate Mountain.

And that’s when it happened…

After consulting Google maps and seeing that we were already well on our way to Grafton Notch, we agreed to change our plans.

Earl is pointing to the Table Rock at the top of the mountain.
Good thing we took this picture AFTER we did the hike, otherwise Earl may not have gone up there!
We didn’t have a trail map, but we knew the trail to Table Rock was off the Appalachian Trail which is very well marked. But I still took a picture of the map at the trail head. That’s just me, being me.
It was a beautiful late winter day. The temps were in the mid-50s and there was little wind. There was little snow in the woods, but the trail itself was a solid path of ice. We definitely needed our trail crampons!

We passed several people who didn’t have any traction on their feet and they were having a tough time of it. Is it horrible of us to gloat that we finally managed to pass people on the trail? HA HA
We did not encounter them again, so they must have eventually turned around. We did wonder how long they stayed on the trail, because we wouldn’t have stayed on it long if we didn’t have our crampons on.
1346688 The staples in this picture are how you usually climb the last bit to reach Table Rock, but with our crampons on, it would have been tricky. I scurried over to the right and pulled myself along the wall to the top.

Apparently there is cut-off to the left of the staples that skirt this climb, too. Oops! Didn’t notice it on the way up. I did notice it when we were going back down, but I wanted to slide down the rock instead!

Photo by Wendy Almeida

The view from Table Rock
Earl doesn’t like heights so he was very brave to get close enough to the edge to take this picture.
 Earl thought I was too close to the edge. What do you think?

Although I was a bit nervous about the last minute change to our plans, I am so glad we made the choice that we did.
As we were ready to conclude our hike, we pulled to the side of the trail to remove our crampons. There were wooden beams in place to protect the vegetation. A group of young hikers were crossing on their way to start up the trail.A young woman said, “Look at them! We are so unprepared!”We laughed and wondered how far they would make it up the trail before slip, sliding, and giving up.It reminded me of the 3-day hike we had done in the same area in early May 2015. There seemed to be no snow, so we didn’t bother to bring our snowshoes. I think Earl’s were in the car, and my snowshoes were already put away in my basement. We definitely needed snowshoes. You can read about that adventure here.

During these shoulder seasons, you need to have gear for either. Although carrying the extra weight can be a nuisance, especially when you don’t need the items, you will be so glad to have them if you do.

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