We're back on a trail again! This time, Dingo, Luna and I are hiking a 750 mile route from the Canadian Border to the Long Island Sound. Our route includes thru-hikes of the Cohos Trail and New England Trail (the two trails we had in mind originally but eventually decided to connect) and a few hundred miles on the Appalachian and Long Trail in New Hampshire and Vermont. The remaining miles are connectors I've strung together using local trail maps, Google maps, and other resources.
The Cohos Trail extends 170 miles from the Canadian Border near Pittsburg, NH to Crawford Notch in the White Mountains. It took us 8 days to complete the quiet and relatively unknown long trail. We encountered a variety of trail conditions and were most impressed with the craftsmanship of the trail's shelters that volunteers have newly built.
We had a hot and humid start on August 4th at the 4th Connecticut Lake and source of the Connecticut River. There, the river is only a small stream that we could cross with a single leap. The trail quickly turned into a muddy mess from the recent rainfall, but we enjoyed some gorgeous springs to drink from. On the second day, we walked to Green Acres Country Store to visit my friend Kathy and get spoiled with her exceptional baking talents. She fed us fresh cinnamon rolls, breakfast pizza and salads that would be the last "real food" we'd eat for over a week. Her and Al have an incredible spot just a mile from the trail.
The Cohos itself in the Northern section is a mix of hiking trail, ATV roads, and overgrown snowmobile trails. We found it to be relatively well marked but inconsistently maintained, making the boggy and overgrown bush areas hard to make quick miles. We lost the trail a number of times because of the lack of detail on the maps.
We survived the heat by swimming whenever possible, most notably Lake Francis, where we carried out a few beers to enjoy. The woods were lush and incredibly full of wild things: mushroom varieties, moose and bear scat and prints. The area around Dixville Notch had some interesting history and our first peek at more dramatic views.
It was incredible to walk into the White Mountains from the North, a different perspective than either of us had seen before. muggy weather and weight of a pack took their toll on Luna's energy early on, so I opted to carry her food as she got her legs under her. The climbs got tougher and I began to feel the extra weight of Luna's food on my back and in my legs as they got stronger each day.
We found ourselves on Mount Cabot to start the trek through the higher peaks, where the Kilkenny Ridge Trail was an impressive display of trail work. There, last October's big storm pulled down hundreds of trees. Where there weren't blowdowns obstructing views, the trail was gorgeously green and fun to hike.
On our final night before reaching the more popular trails, we enjoyed a great sunset while climbing up the ridges of Owlshead and Martha. The Cohos ends by going over Eisenhower and down into the Dry River Valley. Then we climbed up a socked in Isolation and had a full day of rain and wet everything along Davis Path before ending at Crawford Notch.
Overall thoughts on the Cohos? A sweet shorter thru-hike that less than a dozen people do a year that guarantees a variety of conditions and terrain. A great wilderness experience. The Whites test your legs while the North tests your feet.