For a few months I’ve been thinking of returning to Lambert Ridge, a ledgy section of the Appalachian Trail up Smarts Mountain, not far from here. The first section is steep, leading up to a series of granite ledges with broad views that belie the relatively low elevation at this point on the trail. The climb to these ledges is a worthwhile dayhike, and brings back memories. Read on!
I first came to these ledges in the fall of 1983, on a bushwhacking overnight hike organized by the Dartmouth Outing Club. We were scouting a potential new route for the Appalachian Trail, part of a decade-long effort to re-locate the trail along a newly protected corridor.
It’s interesting to recall the backpacking gear from those days; mine was a Kelty frame pack similar to Dan’s pack below.
The view was as impressive then as it is today.
Two years later (fall of 1985, I believe) I returned to these ledges by sawing my way from the base to the ledges with a chainsaw, quite literally, as part of a DOC work group. On a brisk fall day we slowly cleared a new trail. I think of that day, and the many friends on that crew, every time I climb the steep slopes among the rocky outcroppings. Today, it was gratifying, even as I strode alone up through a light snow-cover and under gray skies, to think about the many thousands of thru-hikers and day-hikers who have enjoyed this trail in the 25 years since that fall. Today, I was the only one on the trail, though the were plenty of tracks from hikers who have visited since last week’s snowfall.
It also seemed to me, as I examined the many animal tracks that crossed the human tracks along the trail, that this area could be an excellent place to see a bobcat. Most of the track were from deer, or were too old to discern, but there were some plausible bobcat tracks near a granite outcrop with ample nooks and crevices that seemed suitable as a cozy winter home.
I’ll have to come back again after a fresh snowfall and see who I can find.