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Ski
Hiking Trail Conditions Report
Peaks
Peaks Mt. Madison, NH
Trails
Trails: Howker Ridge Trail, Osgood Trail, Watson Path, Pine Link
Date of Hike
Date of Hike: Thursday, July 2, 2020
Parking/Access Road Notes
Parking/Access Road Notes: One car upon arrival at either trailhead. Half dozen NH plates at Pine Link, and half dozen out of staters at Howks Ridge on return.  
Surface Conditions
Surface Conditions: Dry Trail, Wet Trail, Wet/Slippery Rock, Standing/Running Water on Trail, Mud - Minor/Avoidable 
Recommended Equipment
Recommended Equipment:  
Water Crossing Notes
Water Crossing Notes: Bumpus Brook required some wading; recent rains have made the crossing untenable by rock hopping. Most of the upper section of Pine Link after descending below tree line is a mile-long water crossing. You are literally walking down a stream, with no viable alternative due to thick scrub, for the majority of the time until you meet back up with Howks Ridge Trail. 
Trail Maintenance Notes
Trail Maintenance Notes: A few bog bridges on the upper sections of pine link have lost their battle to the bog.  
Dog-Related Notes
Dog-Related Notes: Copious and plentiful amounts of water on these trails until treeline. 
Bugs
Bugs: Minor the first mile from each trailhead, almost none once ascending into confiers. Black flies at the top due to exactly 0mph wind. 
Lost and Found
Lost and Found: Pair of glasses at Pine Link Trailhead on the sign. A balaclava (wish it was a baklava) 2/3rds up Howk's Ridge (it was soaking wet so didn't carry it down sorry!) 
 
Comments
Comments: This was an attractive loop that took us up some less used trails to Madison. The first mile of Howker Ridge Trail takes you past some fine cascades and interesting rock formations, that were really flowing thanks to the much needed recent rain. This did however make most of the many ledges and rocks on the trail below treeline quite slippery, and the going was a bit slower than we anticipated. Howk's has a few steep sections, but for the most part is just a steady ascent. The few ups and downs as you go over the various Howks is not disheartening in the way Wildcat E-A can be, and there are nice views of Madison's west slopes on each of them.

Saw our first people of the day on Madison's summit, though it was largely deserted. The weather was perfect, except we could have used a bit of a breeze. Completely blue skies, no hint of the afternoon thunderstorms that were potentially brewing.

Descending via Watson's Path, we got to Pine Link. After rock-hopping into the treeline, we came upon a stream that was apparently the trail. I wanted to write this trip report just as a heads up, because the guide doesn't seem to mention this. The book says we "Cross" several small brooks and slippery rocks. So I am not sure if it was just the recent rain, but almost the entirety of Pine Link from the scrub to the junction of Howker's Ridge Trail, is IN a stream. Knowing then what I know now, I would have ascended Pine Link or just skipped the upper section altogether, as it impeded progress significant. It actually took us more than book time to descend this section, which almost never happens for us. The entire trail was covered in wet mossy rocks, with insufficient rocks rising above the stream to keep your feet dry. They will get wet, and we both dunked our feet multiple times after sliding off rocks or just being face with no alternative. The thick scrub here necessitates descending in the stream, in many sections there is no workaround. I must wonder if this is a rare occurrence due to recent rain, because I've rarely seen the guide's description be so different to our own. So I'm not sure what was going on there. It's not like the last few days had an exceedingly unusual amount of rain? The guide is correct that the footing through most of the trail is rough...it was not the most pleasant trail to descend, though it was very nice to look at. I'd probably switch directions if we did it again. Then again, being able to coast downhill on the bikes from Pine Link all the way to our car was nice. Also stop by the Triple Falls trail (.2 miles) and soak the feet while checking out the waterfalls, which were definitely flowing well due to recent rain.

All in all a good loop. We'd do it again, but wait for some period of no rain before doing the upper section of Pine Link again.  
Name
Name: HotRodJimmy 
E-Mail
E-Mail: hotrodjimmy04@hotmail.com 
Date Submitted
Date Submitted: 2020-07-03 
Link
Link: http:// 
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