Note: This TR is posted in response to the low-volume laments It was the last hike I did the WMNF. It was done one month ago.
North, Middle and South Weeks from the Berlin Fish Hatchery, 12 miles, 3800', 6:30, and NEHH #86-87. 13-Nov-2011.
I can confirm that the Berlin hatchery does, in fact, lock the gate at night. It was locked at 7:20 when I pulled in. I woke up a bit early and so I headed north a bit early, just in case. I was prepared to wait 40 minutes, but my arrival got the resident dog's attention and a few minutes after it started barking, the guys came out and unlocked the gate for me. Driving down the dirt road, I spooked two does, the second two of the day (the first two crossed 93 in my headlights around exit 18.) When I got to the parking lot, there were a bunch of cars that had spent the night, including some people we all know here that were at Unknown Pond. There was a light frost on the cars, and on the ground and leaves, with a very slight trace of snow. The staff told me there was an inch or two up higher.
View of Terrace Mountain, and 1000s of brookies, Pleasant stretch of York Pond Trail
I paused at the start to check out Terrace, and to peek into the concrete raceway. It was still pretty dark, but the light tips of the pectoral fins and the lighter spots on darker bodies gave away the 1000s of 4-6" brook trout that were contained there. At the clearing where the Bunnell Notch Trail turns right, I am pretty sure I saw a lynx go running off into the woods. Too big to be a bobcat, and I didn't really see a tail, but I also didn't see a face. The size and coloring suggest lynx, and in the vicinity there were some large cat tracks in the faint traces of snow. When I got to the first brook crossing, the boards over the top of the old dam were missing, so I had to find a place to cross (not too difficult) up stream. Until the York Pond Trail begins climbing away from the streams, it was muddy, with that lovely 'breakable crust'. Above the wet areas, it follows some old logging roads through open woods, like the right photo above.
Spruce Grouse, North Weeks
I must have spooked a dozen grouse on this day. Every time I did, they spooked me back, with their I-want-to-be-a-helicopter impression. I did encounter one spruce grouse that was perfectly content to pose for me. The Kilkenney Ridge Trail, above York Pond Trail, was completely different then the usual dirt, rock, hard-pack trails further south. It was much more like an improved, blazed, herd path. Very soft under foot, and therefore easy to make progress without a lot of noise. In part because of this, and because I was (apparently) the only person up there, I encountered many other critters besides the grouse, including a fox, a hare and three moose. None of them hung around for a photo op, unfortunately.
After zig-zagging all over the mountain, the trail eventually tops out on North Weeks. There is currently nothing to indicate that you have reached the top, although there is a bracket in the biggest tree along the trail on which the sign apparently once hung. I ate a sandwich, took a photo, and continued on to Middle Weeks.
Middle Weeks, Open woods view of The Horn
Middle Weeks is even less remarkable than North (or South) without any evidence there ever was a sign. If I ever do the NHHH, then I've already got this one marked off. I only slowed down, but didn't stop, on my way to South Weeks. Right before the top, the Kilkenney Ridge trail turns left, and a spur trail continues for maybe 30-50' to fairly obvious summit, and again, the bracket on the tree.
I turned around and followed my tracks out. The sun had done some melting work and some areas were now completely devoid of snow. It was on the re-climb of North Weeks that I turned a corner and stumbled upon three moose - two young bulls and a third whose head I didn't quite see. They leaped nimbly up the hill and disappeared in near silence in a matter of seconds. Forest Gnome, I am not
I paused at the junction with York Pond Trail and gave the idea of visiting Terrace a few minutes thought. It would make me late for dinner which might make it harder to get out next time, so I skipped it. I think Terrace, Cabot, The Bulge, The Horn and Unknown Pond will make a really nice loop some day.
A few more photos here
That does it for VT and NH. All 13 remaining peaks are in Maine (Elephant, the Six Pack and Baxter.)