After calling off the planned three-day due to illness, Molly joined me for an easy 6 mile hike. The weather was beastly hot and the flies were out.
We started off at the Gorham Hydro station (the one on the upstream end of town) crossing the Androscoggin on the exciting footbridge slung under the railroad trestle. After a short level walk, we crossed the hydroelectric station dam and bore left beside the water. Not long after, the trail left the dirt road and climbed gradually up through the woods.
About half a mile up the trail, after the whine and growl of trafic had been left behind, we encountered a side trail leading to Mascot Pond and the Gorham Lead Mines. This used to be a prosperous lead mining operation which closed down several decades ago. What's left, however is a frog-encrusted pond and an extremely steep tallus slope leading up to the two mine entrances. Both were recently gated to help protect the local brown bat population from disturbance and to keep local kids from hurting themselves.
Time was, however, when both entrances could be explored. The lower (horizontal) entrance is about six feet square and penetrates maybe a hundred feet rising slightly until coming to a breakdown filled chamber with a small breakthrough to the surface emitting a lovely beam of daylight. The upper entrance, above some rocky climbing, is a five foot wide, 30 foot tall slit with several tunnellings visible in the ceiling. The main passage travells a couple dozen yards sloping downward slightly until terminating at a deep pit. Supposedly it goes down for maybe a hundred feet before becoming clogged with timbers and rubble.
After standing in the entrances to the tunnels enjoying the chilly cave air wafting out, we proceeded back to the trail and, after another 2+ miles of sweaty, muddy, unpleasent slogging achieved the first of several broad rocky summits of Mt. Hayes. On a clear day, which this wasn't, there is a great view down onto Gorham and further into Pinkham Notch. The Carter and Presidential Ranges are clearly visible.
A very peaceful trail leads off through softwoods to several other broad, glacier-scraped summits finally meeting up with the Centenial Trail (part of the AT). I remember sleeping out on these rocks while in the scouts watching the full moon and listening to the sounds of the GHS Prom from the valley below.
On the way down the Centennial Trail--far superior to the trail up, by the way--there were several good views to the North and East including Mt. Success, Trident Col, Cascade Mt. and the several summits of Baldcap. Finally the trail terminates on the Hogan Road in Shelburne and easy .1 miles from the North Road where cars can be left.
The Wilderness Journal