Mileage: 12ish miles (backtrack and loop)
Elevation gain: 2,400' ish
Trailhead: Hike starts at Mt. Gosford Forest Preserve, 901 rang Tout-de-Joie, Woburn, Québec, Canada (about one hour's drive from the Pittsburg, NH customs station).
Boundary Peak, ME (Wikipedia): This mountain, which has no formal name, is located on the United States-Canada border between boundary markers 445 and 446. It is the highest point on the border east of the Rocky Mountains.
Hiked with Rich and friends. We drove up Friday night, checked in at the Haut Bois Dormant B&B and ate dinner at Resto Bar La Patrie (amazing food, reasonable prices - we would return there post-hike).
We awoke to showers and foggy conditions. It took about 30 minutes to get to the Welcome Center at Mt. Gosford Preserve (there's an entrance fee). The ranger was skeptical when we told him our plans but gave us directions and sold us maps. He also gave us a receipt which must be returned to the Center when we exit the preserve. I imagine it's so we won't camp in the park without paying the extra fee.
We planned to hike the Sentiers Frontaliers. What's that you ask?
Sentiers Frontaliers (easterntownships.org): A 135-km trail network with trails located in the Mt. Megantic and Woburn area in Quebec. The network connects to the Appalachian Trail via the Cohos Trail in the U.S. For short or long hikes, three-sided shelters, camping platforms, and wilderness shelters (at Mount Gosford only) can accommodate you for the night. Some sectors are closed during big-game hunting season.
Refer to the map at this link to follow our hike.
|Heading toward Chemin Clearwater|
We drove on dirt roads, bumpy and rutty with the occasional sketchy bridge - fine for vehicles with medium clearance. A few miles in we took a left onto Chemin Clearwater. We couldn't go all the way up (parts washed out) so we parked just before a barrier, and walked in (about a mile). It was raining lightly.
|Rain gear and pack covers.|
|Up Chemin Clearwater.|
At the point where trail #7 crosses this road we went right - on to trail #7 - toward Refuge Clearwater. (Trail names are so much easier to remember than numbers!)
|Refuge Clearwater has a wood stove, bunks and an outhouse.|
There's not much information around on trail conditions at Mt. Gosford Preserve. The well-blazed trails we took are for the most part a walk in the woods, with gradual and not-so gradual inclines. Today the trails were wet!
|Foggy with mostly easy ups.|
It rained heavily the day before and I wondered if we'd have a problem with water crossings.
We didn't. Except..........
We encountered two of the largest beaver dams I've ever seen. We couldn't believe our eyes - acres of flooded land!
|Notice the blue trail arrow on the tree - the middle of the path.|
Thousands of tree branches and gobs of mud made these ponds. Just how well traveled is this trail and how did others get past this obstacle? The colony of beavers had been very busy over the winter!
Would we have to turn back? The water was so deep. So close, we couldn't turn back. Our group charged ahead, walking precariously on slippery, angled branches. I tried that too and slipped, half of me landing in a puddle of mud and muck. So much for keeping the inside of my boots dry.
The rain eventually stopped and we didn't encounter any more problems with water. At a few turns we hopped over big puddles to find the direction of trail but that was the extent of our water woes.
|We were excited about "Monolithe 443" - on the border swath (we went left).|
We never saw another hiker on this trail, or on the swath (well, it was kinda wet and crappy out).
This area is so remote, like they'd never find my body! We continued on until we saw an opening in the woods.
When I think of borders I think of people running across and agents with official hats and guns drawn chasing after them. I was excited to get out to this vast strip of nothing in the middle of nowhere: the swath!
It didn't disappoint. There it was. We looked up and down the wide strip of grass and rotting trees. It reminded me of a ski slope in summer; one that needed a little more grooming. We went right - toward Boundary Peak.
|Isn't it creepy - a big bare strip running between Canada and the US.|
The Canadian side (right) is peppered with hunting camps. And the US side is, well, just miles of trees (with just one cairn and one canister -our destination). The boundary runs right down the middle and we took a few silly pictures of us with one foot in each country.
|The group by one of the "monolithes."|
Up and down the swath "roller coaster" we went, past many hunting camps, some with motion cameras (all with big square salt licks).
|Square salt lick. Our innkeeper told us the hunters have turf wars in-season.|
Ahead of us - at the top of a steep gravelly path - was our destination.
|The last push to Boundary Peak.|
We were up the hill in no time, crossing the swath (technically illegally) over into the US and blowing past the cairn to the canister. (We'd brought our passports in case the border patrol stopped us but no one came out on ATV's to round us up like the illegals we were.)
|The cairn marking the peak (head into the woods here)|
|This herd path by the cairn takes you to the canister.|
|Boundary (aka Panther - why, I wonder?). |
Canister notes the last entry was February 1.
It was cold, misty and quite windy at the top so we dropped back down the hill for lunch (borrowing someone's hunting camp to get out of the wind).
We continued down (and up and down) the swath, backtracking and hiking past where we came in (trail #7), and headed to Cap Frontiere, an imposing rock face that the trail skirted around (luckily - hey, no one likes hiking on wet rock!). At the top of Cap Frontiere we took trail #1 toward Mt. Gosford. The weather had improved - from rain and cold to light fog and not-so-cold - and we took off our rain jackets and pants but still weren't sure we wanted to make the trek to the summit of Gosford. We'd expected the skies to have cleared in the afternoon so we could enjoy some semblance of a view up there but the clouds and mist held fast.
Trail #1 had serious water damage (see photo below). The entire trail was wiped out and we slowly picked our way through it down to the bottom where the trail splits, with right heading up to the summits and straight ahead ending up at our cars.
|What caused this????|
We headed toward the summits but decided to forgo Petit Gosford and took the bypass (left of the fork) straight for Mt. Gosford's summit. We figured it would be another 700-800' elevation gain.
We decided the distance posted on the trail signs were a little off. One of the signs indicated .8 kilometers, it seemed much longer to us.
|Summit woods are wet and dreamy.|
We apparently were also a little off (that's what people tell me all the time) - with our elevation gain. We hiked up just about 500' before we reached the wide open summit of Mt. Gosford.
|Us on the summit tower.|
|Cool bench and wind shelter at the summit.|
No views today - it was totally socked in but we celebrated anyway, took a few photos and layered up to hike down.
We continued on trail #1 until we reached the other side of trail #7, which brought us around and back to the cabin Refuge Clearwater.
In no time we were back at the cars, stripping away our wet clothing. We drove back to the Welcome Center and returned our receipt.
This has got to be one of the most wild and remote hikes I've done, untamed and ungroomed.
Rickards blonde beer post hike. Draft - at Resto Bar La Patrie.