As a break from my usual routine of hiking, I recently did a couple of relatively short treks on my mountain bike.
PART 1: Pond of Safety (located in the WMNF near Randolph, NH)
It's interesting to note that the Pond of Safety got its name from an incident that happened during the American Revolutionary War. Four local men who had joined the Continental Army were captured by the British and were paroled on the condition that they not participate further in the conflict. But because they feared punishment if they were recaptured by the British, they went to an isolated area (now known as Pond of Safety) in order to remain out of reach until there was no further danger that they might be apprehended.
To access Pond of Safety Road, take Ingerson Road (directly opposite Six Gun City) in Jefferson, NH. Pond of Safety Road begins at a sharp bend along Ingerson Road. From this point, you need to travel nearly 4 miles to reach the pond.
Once you arrive at the pond, there's a herd path around a portion of the shoreline. It was interesting to recently read that the U.S. Forest Service has plans to replace this "user created trail" and to harden the shoreline using riprap.
|Herd path around a portion of the shoreline of Pond of Safety|
As I arrived at the Pond of Safety, it started to rain. It wasn't a hard rain, but enough to get you wet!
|Rainy conditions at Pond of Safety|
Besides riding on your bike, you can also get to the pond by hiking (about 4 miles one-way) via the trail system in the Crescent Range. Presented below is a map which shows the hiking trails in the Crescent Range. Also shown is my bike route which is highlighted in yellow. (Just as a footnote, you can also drive to the pond in a regular passenger car. The Pond of Safety Road (dirt and gravel) is actually in pretty good shape this year.)
|Trails in Crescent Range, as well as my bike route to Pond of Safety (CLICK TO ENLARGE)|
The next photo shows a collage of hiking trail signs that are located at the Pond of Safety end of the trail system.
|Hiking trail signs that can be seen near the Pond of Safety|
I was surprised to find one of those USGS benchmark discs embedded in a boulder along the shoreline of Pond of Safety (next photo). Although I've seen these many times on mountain summits, I don't recall ever seeing one at a pond.
|USGS Benchmark seen along shoreline at Pond of Safety|
Seeing this benchmark at this location piqued my interest. I decided to try to reach the USGS by telephone to see what I could find out. It was a total shock when I was actually able to reach a live person after the second ring!
The USGS representative told me that benchmarks can be located in a variety of places, including the shoreline of ponds. He further indicated that benchmark locations are designated by the letters "BM" on USGS maps. I looked on a 1938 USGS quad map, and sure enough there is a "BM" symbol at Pond of Safety exactly where I stumbled upon it!
On the map shown below, I've circled in red some of the other benchmarks that show up on this quad. Hmmm! I wonder. Are there already "benchmark-baggers" out there, or could this be the beginning of a whole new list for hikers to pursue?
|Location of Pond of Safety benchmark, plus others in same vicinity (CLICK TO ENLARGE)|
Now it's time for a bit of humor. The bike ride was enjoyable, but there were lots of bugs. Since my repellent wasn't repelling I ended up wearing a head net! I took the "self-timer" photo shown below since I knew my wife would get a laugh out of it. So, go ahead. It's okay to poke fun at my dorky outfit! :-)
|Me with my dorky outfit to cope with the bugs at Pond of Safety|
ADDENDUM: A few days after preparing this Blog report, I did some further research about benchmarks, and I even went out looking for a few benchmarks that are located only a few miles from my home in Bethlehem, NH. A separate report about all this is contained in another Blog that I author (click HERE).
PART 2: Gorham Hydro Station
After finishing the bike ride at Pond of Safety, I loaded the bike and drove about 15 miles east along Rt. 2 to do my second adventure of the day. My objective this time was to bike along the backroads near the Gorham Hydro station. This is one of nine hydroelectric power plants owned and operated by PSNH in the State of New Hampshire. This particular facility is located on the Androscoggin River and has been in service since 1917.
There are a variety of roadways at the Gorham Hydro station where public use is permitted. Many of these roadways are open to use for ATVs and snowmobiles, as well as for use by bicyclists, and for hikers who want to access the south end of the Mahoosuc Trail.
If you are accessing the Gorham Hydro area by bike, ATV, or snowmobile, you should use the large parking lot on Rt. 2 (west of downtown Gorham). If you're going to be hiking these roadways to reach the Mahoosuc Trail, then you should park at a lot on Rt. 16 which is located 0.3 mile north of the junction of Rt. 2 and Rt. 16. This lot is on the east side of the road at the base of an old railroad bridge.
If you're visiting the Gorham Hydro area by bike, ATV, or snowmobile, you'll be crossing the old railroad bridge on the upper deck. If you're hiking, then you'll be using the lower deck.
So with that background in mind, the next photo shows the upper deck of the railroad bridge that I biked across en route to the roadways at the hydro station.
|Approaching upper deck of old railroad bridge en route to hydro station|
The next photo was taken from the railroad bridge looking toward downtown Gorham with clouds engulfing the mountains that surround the town.
|View from railroad bridge looking toward downtown Gorham|
Once I biked over the bridge, I entered the road network at the hydro station. My first stop was at the dam near the south end of the complex. At this location is a building that I find particularly picturesque (next photo).
|Picturesque building at the dam near the south end of Gorham Hydro complex|
Looking northward from the dam is also an eye-pleasing sight (next photo).
|Looking northward from the dam at the Gorham Hydro station|
My travels along the roadways at Gorham Hydro also led me to a spot where I could look southward toward the dam and building where I had stopped earlier in the day.
|Looking south toward the dam and building where I had stopped earlier in the day|
To sum it up, I find it pleasant to occasionally take a break from my hiking routine by interspersing some mountain bike adventures. Both of these exploits were particularly enjoyable and they have put me in the mood to come up with some other ideas for similar treks.