Sounds pretty dramatic, huh? Eye of the needle. We thought so too. Last weekend we woke up with a desire to get into the woods. But first we stopped at The Waterwheel for brunch. After filling up on french toast and sweet potato fries, we took the Ingerson Road in Jefferson toward Pond of Safety. The gates were open so truck or car traffic is still allowed within the Town Forest. Parking at the Four Soldiers Path is a little difficult in the winter. We parked along the road just a few yards above the trailhead.
We were surprised to find several inches of snow on the trail and wondered why we didn’t think to bring our skis. We followed the tracks of other hikers until the trail takes a sharp turn, where it looks like the other hikers missed the turn. Hope they figured it out quickly and were able to find their way out of the woods! We broke the branches of the tree that had fallen in the trail that blocked the turn to prevent others from losing their way. The beginning of the trail makes it way on numerous bog bridges through a very wet area thick in evergreens.
The trail crosses a woods road and quickly turns to a more hardwood dominated forest. The recent logging has created an open forest with lots of young trees. The moose and deer frequent here, and we found evidence everywhere. The snow also made a good substrate for tracking other wildlife: coyote use this trail frequently, snowshoe hare, squirrel, deer, and moose. We also found a hunter’s track, circling above the trail several times before disappearing down into the woods. The ground still wasn’t frozen and the several inches of snow tricked us into thinking we could walk anywhere. We both stepped into mud holes hidden by the fresh white snow.
As we continued on the trail toward the “Eye of the Needle” we climbed slightly in elevation and began to notice some very large yellow birch trees. Perhaps a pocket of old growth here?
After about 2 miles we found the Eye of the Needle. At least we found the sign that said so. We searched all around looking for the promised view of Mount Washington, but the trees must have grown up to hide the view. There are views to the presidentials, but we found it difficult to find one that warranted the “Eye of the Needle” title.
A little disappointed, we turned around and followed our tracks back down, singing our own version of “Eye of the Tiger” song. We both new the tune pretty well, but the words escaped us so we made up our own words, singing loudly, and most likely ruining our chances of seeing any wildlife on our way back to the truck.
The sun was getting low in the sky and created interesting light in the woods. It was also getting colder, but not cold enough to freeze the wet and muddy trail. Andrew stopped after splashing through several muck holes and lifted his foot. “I’ve got an ice ball!” He tried to walk along further, but the ball grew larger causing him to have difficulty walking. After knocking the ice chunk off against a tree, we continued hiking down, but only a few minutes later Lindsay’s boot had one too!
Just as the sun was tucking behind the mountains, we came out of the woods to the truck. We looked up and saw 3 moose hanging out by the truck. Two bulls and a cow stood in the road watching us as we slowly walked toward them. We tried to take a few pictures, but the dusk created difficult light to capture the dark fur coats against the dark evergreen trees.