to get back by 6:00 or 6:30 PM, so Muffin and I left home a half-hour earlier
than usual at 4:00 AM, and made the 2-3/4 hour drive to the trailhead. The Garfield
Trail begins about two miles in on the dirt and gravel Gale River Loop Rd off
Rt 3 just north of Franconia Notch. After calling home and locking up the car,
we started hiking at 7:00 AM.
trail began gently, angling almost imperceptibly upward through a mixed hardwood
and hemlock forest. As I had recently gotten over an infection in my knee, I walked
more slowly than usual, and I often had to call Muffin back when she got too far
ahead. Somewhere to the right, I could hear the not too distant sound of flowing
water, which was likely the South Branch of Burnt Brook. I believe that this brook
gets its name from a huge forest fire that occurred on the north flanks of Mt
Garfield around the turn of the century.
fall colors were not yet at peak, but they were pretty none-the-less, and the
woods smelled damp and leafy. Most of the leaves were still on the trees, but
some maple and many birch leaves were strewn along the trail.
this trip I was at somewhat of a disadvantage in that I didn’t have my altimeter
watch as it was still with Suunto for repair. I had expected it back by now; I
left it at Eastern Mountain Sports in mid-August. Since I had purchased the watch there, they had said they would
send it back to Suunto for me. In addition to telling time, the altimeter always
helps me gauge my progress upward. Anyway, I was hiking totally “blind” on this
trip as I neither knew the time nor my elevation.
trailhead for the Garfield Trail. The trail begins about 2 miles south of Rt 3
at a small parking area along the graveled Gale River Loop Rd. There were about
10 cars parked there when I arrived, but nobody else was around.