Mid-70s by 8:30AM and humid as hell wasn’t the greatest start, but it was a short hike, right? The humidity was 73% and the dewpoint was 64 degrees, which I’m pretty sure means I was hiking through hot fog. Within moments I was soaked with sweat. Also within moments, bugs swarmed. Small noseeums, horse flies, AND mosquitos. Thank goodness for my bugnet.
Ignoring all that for the moment, the hike. A logging road/snowmobile trail to start and this random old sign.
You always have to keep an eye on the trail and where you step, but this time of year, you need to keep a look out for these little guys. Red efts, which is an immature stage of the red-spotted newt. They are frequently hanging out right in the middle of the trail.
It really was lovely…
Though I hardly got to enjoy it, as I was drowning my own sweat and constantly annoyed by bugs. I knew the trail to Anna was “steep” according to some reviews. It wasn’t so much steep as a slog. I’m sure that’s largely due to the conditions, but it just felt like a long, boring, uphill, hot, buggy, muggy slog. I also knew that Anna had no views, which is normally fine, but felt insulting after the slog. Here’s my very unimpressed summit selfie.
I then followed some of the Belknap Range Trail, which was actually lovely. If it wasn’t horribly humid and buggy.
It wasn’t a level trail over to Straightback, however. Like most range trails, there were some ups and downs. Here was a short up.
The closer I got to Straightback, and where I stopped for a break, there were loads of blueberry bushes. Not quite yet ripe, except some patches in the sun.
I arrived at Straightback’s summit, and there’s a sign as well as a lovely view. You know, the spot that people probably want to take a photo or two. There was a couple there when I arrived. I patiently waited, but one of the two stood there right by the sign. Just standing there. Not taking photos. Just standing. I kept waiting. They finally moved to the view. I kept waiting. I finally resorted to creative photography.
But anyway, the view was really nice. The summit is flat and long (possibly the reason for the name?) and enjoyable to wander around.
Oh and there was this guy, who doesn’t belong up here, but I’m going to guess some birds helped.
I had a few choices to get back to my car. Since I didn’t want to deal with ledges or poor footing, I had chosen the longer, less steep “Blueberry Pasture Trail”. It seemed like a great idea at first, as it kept going along the flat open top, and turned off into a lovely field, then the woods. But then, it turned into this…
Rocks. Rocks. Rocks. Different sizes. Not solidly set, aka ankle twisters. A few spots were actually worse with large slabs, which in the current weather were just slick skating rinks. I slipped quite a few times, but caught myself either with my hands or my poles. I was really close to saying screw it and bushwhacking. It was all a disappointing finish as it just seemed to go on and on with rocks and treacherous slabs.
But nearly to the parking lot, there was a field, and something in the field…
Luckily, I knew this was somewhere in the Belknap range, because otherwise it would have been terrifying. It’s apparently a tribute or copy of an art installation in Finland, with clothes on 1000s of crosses from an early war (and subsequent deaths) fought there.
So, first trail and last rail are definitely no way in hell would I repeat these trails. The Belknap Range Trail I think would be lovely to do end to end, maybe someday.
Distance: 4.8 miles (felt like 20)
Elevation gain: 1162 feet
Total time: 4:01
Moving time: 3:27