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15 June 2011

North Twin Trail and Fire Warden Trail: A Little Bit of This and That

As previously mentioned on this Blog, circumstances are such that on Wednesdays I have only a few hours available for hiking.  If I opt to do a short hike, it's usually unworthy of a Blog report.  The trek I did this past Wednesday (15-June) met my unoffical criteria of being "blog-worthy"!

To maximize my available time on Wednesdays, I try to choose a trailhead close to my home in Bethlehem.  On this particular day, the North Twin trailhead on Haystack Road was chosen as my launch point.  My primary objective for this short hike was to reach a little ledge located less than 0.2 mile off the abandoned Mt. Hale Fire Warden Trail, and as a secondary goal, I wanted to try out an EMS sport pack to determine if it met my needs. 

As I hiked up the North Twin Trail, I decided to head off-trail a few hundred feet to the east bank of the Little River.  Although the name of this river incorporates the word "little", it has some really big boulders along one segment.  This was the first time I've ever investigated them close-up.  So, shown below is a photo of what I saw.  What can I say, other than "really big boulders"!
After my short foray down to the river bank, I returned to the trail and soon arrived at the point where the trail crosses the river for the first time.  Since I was headed up the bootleg trail to access the Fire Warden Trail, I had no need to cross the river.  However, as seen below, the water level was very low and crossing would have been no problem.
Although I'm only aware of one spot, there might be other locations along the banks of the Little River where railroad track is visible.  I presume this track is a remnant of the logging railroad that existed between 1893 and 1900.  It ran southward along the Little River for about 6.5 miles.  Shown below is the only piece of track that I've ever come across.
At about this same time last year, I bushwhacked the entire length of the Little River Valley.  During this trek, I occasionally came across what might have been segments of the corridor for the old logging railroad.  Or, another possibility is that these corridors were part of the Little River hiking trail that once existed in this valley.  Shown below is a snapshot of one of the overgrown corridors that I encountered during my hike last year.
If you want to read more about my June 2010 bushwhack up the Little River Valley, then please click HERE.   

Okay, let's return to the hike that I did in June 2011.  I've hiked the abandoned Fire Warden Trail on several occasions and so locating its "trailhead" was no problem.  This trail is appealing to me at any time of year, but it's especially attractive at this time of year when it becomes just a narrow ribbon that winds through the ferns glades (photo below).
At the end of the first long switchback, I left the trail for the short bushwhack (less than 0.2 mile) to a little ledge that I've visited several times since being recommended to me by Steve Smith several years ago.  And actually, it was the view from this ledge that played a major role in inspiring me to do the Little River Valley bushwack that I mentioned above.

The off-trail journey to the ledge is almost a destination unto itself.  The route goes through a magnificent glade of birch and fern (photo below).
Within about 15 minutes from the time I left the Fire Warden Trail, I arrived at the tiny little ledge (photo below).
The next photo provides a little better view from the ledge itself.  Zealand Mountain is on the left of the photo, a portion of Mt. Guyot is in the center at the end of the valley, and although the Twins would be to the right, they are not visible in this particular snapshot.
As part of this hike, I evaluated a daypack which Jim Darroch at EMS provided to me at no cost for an impartial review.  This model is called the Creek Freak.  The snapshot shown below is one that I took of this daypack when I stopped for a break along the Little River.
My overall impression of this daypack is positive.  I'll admit that it was not one that I probably would have picked off the shelf on my own.  Most likely, I would've felt that the size was too small for the type of hiking that I normally do.   However, I was pleasantly surprised when loading the pack for my hike.  I had ample room to include everything I normally take on a hike during the warm-weather months.  

The pack has 3 main compartments.  The outermost is a zippered mesh slot which I found useful for stashing an extra item of clothing for layering/de-layering.  The middle compartment is roomy and has several pockets to separate and organize your smaller gear.  The inner most compartment is the largest of the three.  It includes a padded slot which can be used to tote a small laptop computer.  So, I'm thinking that this pack might also be useful in non-hiking situations, such as a personal carry-on bag when traveling by air.

Not everything was positive about this daypack.  I prefer using water bottles versus a hydration reservoir.  Although this pack has a side pocket that accommodates a water bottle, it's nearly impossible to access the bottle without stopping and removing the pack.  So, I needed to rig up a separate bottle holder which I attached to one of the side compression straps.  Also, as is true with most any pack, I also needed to devise a way to attach my GPS to a shoulder strap.

The top photo below shows the two minor modifications that I made in order to customize the pack to suit my personal needs.  The bottom photo attempts to illustrate the roominess of this pack.

To sum it up, if I hike on a Wednesday, it's usually only for a few hours.  And generally, my trek is of little interest to anyone.  However, I thought perhaps this particular Wednesday's hike might contain some elements which could be of potential interest to others.   And ergo, a report was written and now this hike enters into the realm of the blogosphere!


Summerset said...

Um, yeah those are some big boulders!

I have a smaller pack for summer, an Osprey, and like it. Very similar in size to the one you're evaluating. It looks small, but does hold all the stuff needed for the warmer temps. The bigger pack comes out for the winter and multi-day trips.

1HappyHiker said...

Hi Summerset! You and I might have the same small Osprey pack. I have the Stratos 24. However, it has seen a lot of use. It’s now literally held together in certain places with duct tape!! And so, since I’m in the market for a new daypack, it was a welcome opportunity for me to do a no-obligation evaluation of the EMS Creek Freak pack.

As always, thanks for posting a comment . . . much appreciated!


Brian said...

Hi HappyHiker,

Huge fan of yours. I recently became acquainted in FW trail. Very interested in this ledge. I sent you an email.


1HappyHiker said...

Brian . . . thanks for posting a comment. I’ve sent a reply to your E-mail.


Summerset said...

John, I actually have a Raptor 14, which is supposed to be for biking (which I do, too). What I like about it is the size - just right for summer day trips, but fits good on a small framed female. I use the toggle intended for bike helmets for microspikes on the extreme end of the shoulder season before going up to my larger Opsrey, an Atmos 50, to lug the winter gear. Yes, it does sound like a great opportunity came along at the right time, although your old pack probably holds a lot of memories.

1HappyHiker said...

Summerset . . . I truly love it when folks innovate like you’ve done by “multi-tasking” your Raptor 14 pack. Good thinking!