After 3 days of chores and two days of rain, cabin fever was at an all-time high. On Thursday the sun finally arrived. We headed off to the Caribou-Speckled Mountain Wilderness to get in one last hike before Evans Notch was closed for winter. We parked at Brickett Place (only car in the lot) and departed up Bickford Trail toward Speckled Mountain (2906’) at 9:30 AM. The trail was gentle and wide, surrounded by deciduous trees with minimal understory. Nearing the summit we saw a rare spruce grouse. It did not fly off as we approached, camera ready, but it was expert at hiding behind the thinnest tree, thwarting all attempts to get a picture of it.
We kept looking at each other, thinking this has to get heinously steep at any minute and suddenly the summit hove into view. The air temperature was in the 60s and it was perfectly calm, not even a gentle breeze presented itself. The sun poked in and out of the clouds like a sewing needle through a piece of cloth, keeping us warm when we needed it and then disappearing when we didn’t. As we ate at lunch we realized that it was utterly, absolutely quiet. We closed our eyes and tried to hear something, a bug buzzing, a leaf rustling, anything but there was nothing to hear except the sound of silence. There was no reason to leave, except that Blueberry Mountain (1781’) was out there waiting for us.
We headed off on the Blueberry Ridge Trail following slabby rock with stunning views of the fall foliage. From the top of Blueberry Mountain there was a carpet of yellow in the foreground with rows of yellow in the distance. Whether natural or manmade we could not tell. The beeches up close were stunning, bright yellow with traces of lime green and salmon colors. We sat until the setting sun told us it was time to leave. The descent on Blueberry was everything Bickford Trail was not. Steep and rocky, the wet leaves on the wet rocks made every step an adventure. It was the perfect hike on the perfect day.
The only misadventure occurred due to the Forest Service’s policy of not blazing or removing deadfall in designated wilderness areas. After crossing Bickford Brook there was a sign for Bickford Brook Trail with several trails heading off in the general direction of the sign. Three of them had branches blocking them and one did not. We took that one, only to have it end at the river’s edge after about a half mile. We didn’t feel like backtracking, so we bushwhacked up hill to the correct trail. An unfortunate by product of this failed policy.
The plaque outside the historical brick building indicated that it had been an AMC hut, a CCC residence, and a Boy Scout camp among other things. We peered inside the windows and wished we could tour it, but it was closed for 2020.