Mt. Blue via Beaver Brook, Benton, and Tunnel Brook
Since being at school lends me the easiest access to Western New Hampshire, today became yet another tick in the Moosilauke tab. Though I was massively overwhelmed with schoolwork much of the week, I took one peek at Friday’s weather and knew I would regret not using my day off to get up high. Though I audibly grunted as I told Liz we were on for Beaver Brook, I am so glad I took the time to get some work done early to get out for this magnificent day.
Early this morning, I picked up Liz’s youngest, Nick, from the University of Vermont. With my company in tow, we headed west to surprise Liz with his presence at the N. Tunnel Brook Trailhead. The surprise, I’ll add, went perfectly, and soon we drove to the Beaver Brook TH to get started. The parking lot was not full and it appeared most of the cars all belonged to the same group which we passed back and forth with in the morning. The early stretch of the trail was predominantly low grades and each crossing had an over-kill bridge on it. Naturally, the first section whose bridge necessitated something more sturdy (crossing a washout) was the most nerve-racking of the day.
From 2400 feet to about 3600 feet (just past Beaver Brook Shelter), we gained ferociously over the wet slab, wooden stairs, and big steps up well-placed rocks. I was dazzled by how much work had been put into this trail, moreover, I was amazed a trail could coexist so closely with such a powerful brook. Despite its presence on the Terrifying 25 List, the remarkably effective safety guards made this less than terrifying, more just a legit workout.
After passing more waterfalls than I could count, we had risen to the Beaver Brook Shelter, which reeked from the trail-side privy. The shelter, despite only being thirty years old, was well-weathered and showed the signs of being home to many, many zero days. Understandable having gone up the following section.
As we intersected with Asquam Ridge, we headed for Blue as I will eventually need it for my Trailwright 72. Though trail-less, the herd path was defined to the wooded summit at 4528 feet. The path comes just after a slab/light scramble descent around the cone of Blue and goes up a very approachable angle. While nothing defines the summit and the herd path continues past 4528 feet, it is fairly obvious where there is no more “up.”
As we worked towards the Benton trail for familiar territory, we collectively decided to shoot halfway up the arm of Moosilauke for some views, but no one had a need to summit, so we did not!
Coming down the Benton Trail was just as I recalled from last year and despite low evidence of leaves changing, the path was already well carpeted in fallen leaves. It was fascinating to hit the outlook at 2,680 with the knowledge that the roaring falls were from Beaver Brook this time. Despite hiking the same trail less than a year apart, the subtle differences were gorgeous.
At the base of Benton Trail, I got to finish up the last 1.5 miles of Tunnel Brook Trail, which was nowhere near the trail the other side of it is. However, the washouts that used to make up the road were cool to see, I can’t recall seeing so much evidence of destruction elsewhere in the Whites.
All in all, I don’t think that there was a better way to grab the Beaver Brook Trail- the car spot was a matter of minutes and the contrast of straight up to completely gradual decline was perfect.