It takes a lot to rip up Carhartts, but the young man we meet on the trail has Carhartt pants that are torn to pieces. He wears a t-shirt that says, “Yes, as a matter of fact, I was born in a barn.” He carries one plastic bottle of water. He wears sneakers.
He’s a north country boy out for a quick run up the very, very steep flank of Sugarloaf Mountain in Groveton and as he passes us on his way down he seems amused. Here we are, three city slickers, in our engineered gear and hiking poles, huffing and puffing our way up his mountain.
“You’re almost there,” he says softly, almost shyly. “There’s a wildflower field of, um, well, I’m not sure of what flowers they are, but once you pass through that it gets less steep.”
We’ve been tramping around the North Country these past few days and have very much enjoyed meeting locals like the young man who tend to seem genuinely curious about why we’re here, in Nash Stream Forest, and not following the conga line up Franconia Notch or some other equally beautiful but tourist-heavy hiking locale.
He tells us about how in the winter, he and his friends drive their snowmobiles up this trail. “Well, we try anyway,” he says. “Sometimes we don’t make it.”
We watch in wonder as he heads down, sure-footed and fast.
“Snowmobiles up this trail, huh?” Janelle says.
Meena shrugs. “North Country boys at play!”
Sugarloaf Mountain in Groveton (9/2/12)
Height: 3,710 feet
Location: Groveton, I-93 to exit 35 to Route 3 north to Groveton to Route 110 east to Emerson Road to Nash Stream Road.
Our trailhead: Sugarloaf Mountain Trail up and back. (Warning: Trailhead is poorly signed. At mile 9 of Nash Stream Road, you cross a bridge. Parking is available on either side of bridge. Trailhead can be found by walking past the south side of a cabin just off the road. Also, Nash Stream Road may be closed in winter.)
Distance: 4.4 miles round trip.