Mt Klem and Mt Mack – Belknaps #4 and #5

Next up in the Belknaps, Mt. Klem and Mt. Mack.  Much like last week, up at 5:30 AM, left at 6:30, but arrived at the trailhead at 8.  And much like last week, it was a super sketchy gravel road to get there.  I thought FOR SURE, I was going to bottom out as it was a VERY bumpy, rocky road.  Mine was the only car in the parking area and I would only see 4 people all day.

The trail starts off with the Gilford Fire Road, a sometimes rocky, but at least very wide trail.  Also fairly boring.  And today there were flies galore.  Immediately had to put on my bugnet and spent the first mile or so internally bitching about flies.

You know who likes flies?  Toads (or frogs?).  Here was one of many I saw on the trail today.

MrToad

They wait until you come close and jump off the trail.  Then you spend the next ten minutes tiptoeing down the trail because every leaf looks like a toad.  Until you give up and forget, and then BAM another toad.

Anyway, my mental bitching about bugs stopped IMMEDIATELY when I saw this gorgeous view of Round Pond.

roundpond

It was so peaceful.  So quiet.  Although it was early in the day and early in my hike, I stopped for a bit to enjoy the quiet and the birds and loads of dragonflies.

Shortly after I got moving, I ran into the first of four people I would see all day.

If you don’t have pics of flowers (and/or mushrooms), do you even hike?! (Unless it’s winter).

The hike continued on through the woods.  Very lovely with occasional glimpses of the pond, until the trail junctioned and I headed up the trail toward Klem.  I’d been warned that Klem didn’t have any views, but there was a minor view near the summit.  I popped out of the woods…wait let me explain that.

Some mountain trails meander, the trees thin, you can see sunlight opening up, you sense that you’re near the summit.  Maybe there is some open rock you must climb before the actual view.  Some mountain trails cloak you in trees, keep you in the dark canopy and without warning the trees part and BANG you pop out onto a viewpoint.  This trail had a BANG pop out onto a view.  I actually exclaimed out loud (and I was hiking solo) “oh my goodness gracious”.  It isn’t the most amazing view ever, but it was a wonderful surprise.

viewwithwash

Extra bonus, I could see (with my bare eye, you can’t see it in this pic) a peak with snow on it. Which on June 25th, in New Hampshire, and especially looking north, could only be Mt. Washington.

Directly behind me sort of tucked away in a tree, I saw these two signs.  Which were sort of weird and hard to read, but maybe someone buried their dogs here?  Some of the land is private, so I guess that’s possible?

bigboysign

Anyway, on to Klem!  Pointer cairn to the short offshoot trail to the summit, and the very understated summit.

A little bit of descent and a little bit of ascent, and the Mt. Mack summit.

MackSummitselfie

A nice-ish view, with an odd little “communications tower” and seemingly out of place weathervane with a solar panel.

Macksummit

Now happily, unlike last week, part of this trail is a loop, so I did not have to backtrack to Klem.  Continuing on, the trail meets back up with Round Pond trail and back to that lovely view where I stopped to watch dragonflies.

On my way, I stopped to snap a pic of a butterfly and saw three of them seeming to play together.

butterflies

Also a snake.  This guy looked just like the ones from last week.  Side note, once you see a snake on the trail, EVERY STICK AND TREE ROOT looks like a snake for at least 100 yards.

snake

I’ve seen what I think are only two species of snakes on any of my hikes.  That guy pictured, and a green guy.  I’m told there is only one poisonous snake in New Hampshire and he’s neither of those guys.  My quick, non-expert google search says that guy is a garter snake.  Based on name alone and native to New Hampshire, I think the green snakes I’ve seen are the originally named “Smooth Green Snakes”.

Now, not long after seeing Mr. Harmless Garter (to which I said out loud “Goodbye, Mr. Snake, have a nice day!”), I saw something that caused me to yelp, step back, and my toes literally curled inside my shoes.  I did not get a picture because he was fast AF and I was terrified.  Again, after my expert Google research, based on size (HUGE AF), color (black), and speed (FAST AF), I think it was a Black Racer.  Very happy to learn they are harmless.

The trail joined up with Round Pond, and my earlier lovely view.  Where I came upon the third person I’d see all day.  A guy who appeared to be wrapping up his break.

Me: cheerily, “Hello!” (or “Hi there!” or some other innocuous, cheery greeting given to other hikers)
Him: “Hello.  Are you OK?”
Me: confused because I’m not limping or anything and he didn’t come upon me sitting to the side of the trail or anything, “Uh, good, and you?”

It was just odd.  Not a normal hiker interaction.  We chatted some more about the view, and the trails, and he seemed perfectly fine.  He also asked which way I was headed and when I must have answered the same way he was going he said “okay, I’ll wait a few minutes so you can get ahead of me”.  Which I get, I hate leapfrogging people, but it seemed odd to say it.  Again, perfectly fine, but I did go over the conversation repeatedly in my head as I walked away.  Either I looked distressed and he just doesn’t know THIS IS HOW I LOOK.  Or he is a trailhead steward or rescue group that just always asks people if they’re OK.  Or option C that I can’t come up with.  Anyway.

Rest of the hike out was uneventful and honestly slightly boring.  Fire roads are just slightly better than regular road walks, which are fairly meh.

All in all, a lovely little hike.

Hike stats:

Distance: 6.1 miles
Elevation gain: 1,142 feet
Total time: 3 hours, 53 minutes
Moving time: 3 hours, 32 minutes

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