We spent Columbus Day weekend up at Intervale, wanted to fit in a nice hike but we thought everything around the Mount Washington Valley area would be pretty crowded (holiday weekend, leaf peeping season) so we decided on a hike in the Evans Notch area, which we’d visited last year and found to be utterly beautiful and surprisingly deserted.
The trail starts out by Basin Pond and continues along the shore for a while, with really lovely views of lake and ledges and reedy marshes from the trail. After leaving the lakeside, we walked through lovely woods for a while, with lots of stream crossings.
We took a very small side loop that climbed up alongside Hermit Falls. Lots of lush moss and mushrooms.
The trail took a lot of steep scrambling over wet rocks to get up past the waterfall, evened out for a while and then got pretty steep again.
There were a few spots where the trail was a bit washed-out or there were trees down across the trail, I assume it’s damage left from last summer’s hurricane Irene which caused a lot of damage and wash-outs around here. Eventually we came to a spot by a stream where a few large trees had fallen across the path and across the stream and we couldn’t figure out which way to go. One of the downed trees was blazed but there was no sign of a trail beyond, in any direction. The ground was thickly covered with autumn leaves and the trail was pretty well covered too, hard to see exactly where the trail was at any point. We hopped back and forth on stones across the stream and back, searching for any sign of a trail. After much deliberation and wandering, we discovered that the trail had turned left to cross the stream and continued upwards. We passed over a few sections of clearly visible trail and we saw a few blazes, but then at some point we felt we were just wandering in the woods, with a thick carpet of leaves underfoot everywhere, no sign of a trail. I ran back to retrace our steps and see if we’d missed a turn in the trail, but found nothing. Continued back to search for the last blazed tree, then back up the faint trail again, back and forth, hunting for the way up, calling to each other to make sure we didn’t get too far separated. Eventually we sat down on a fallen tree to have a snack, and decided that we’d best not keep climbing. Even if we were on the trail, or even if we found the trail, we weren’t sure how much further to the summit, and the afternoon was getting late. I was vaguely wondering whether we might have somehow wandered onto an different trail, maybe an old abandoned trail, headed who-knows-where. After a good climb it’s always nice to get a stunning view at the top, but not worth getting lost in the woods as the sun goes down. We decided to head back down. Around this time we were overtaken by a group of hikers coming down from the Rim Junction! They reassured us that we were indeed on the Basin Trail but they too thought we’d be smarter not to continue climbing as the sun was starting to get low. So we had a good climb down, and as we walked along the lakeside we got a super treat: Moose! The sun was breaking through the clouds and getting all lovely on the hillsides, and a pair of moose were hanging out in the lake. They waded towards the shore near us, and we stood nice and still and had a good long look (though not a very good picture). The dog was eager to meet them but we kept her on a short leash. We felt like the moose and the walk beside the lake with the late afternoon sunshine were a great compensation for missing out on the view from the summit.
I would love to return here and do the whole hike to the top; I bet the trail would be much easier to follow in the spring or summer, without the thick covering of autumn leaves on the ground.