John Muir, who was born on April 21, 1838 and died on December 24, 1914, packed a whole lot of living into his 76 years . Muir was a naturalist, environmentalist, geologist, botanist, writer, philosopher, patron saint of the American wilderness and co-founder of the Sierra Club. He was influenced by Thoreau and Emerson and in turn influenced Teddy Roosevelt, Ansel Adams and myself. He championed the National Parks Bill in 1890 paving the way to the preservation of Yosemite Valley. So it was on April 13, 2016, on a sunny highs in the fifties kind of mid week afternoon, I took his advice and entered the forest.
Purgatory Falls is located in Mont Vernon NH. From Manchester New Hampshire hit 101 west then take the Amherst exit 122S to Purgatory Rd in Lyndeborough NH. Maclellan trail is off of Purgatory Rd. The parking lot is small and is marked with a wooden frame with the words Maclellen trail printed on a white background. I have read the lot fills up quick. I found a space after a Lexus pulled out. Maclellan trail starts right off of the edge of the lot.
I was breaking in a new pair of hiking boots, a new camera backpack, lens and neutral density filter. I had the worlds wrongest hiking tripod and head , weighing more than a huge box of rocks, strapped to the back of my backpack. Even against these huge Phil Collins odds, I had a sense of excitement. It was an adventure and I was itching for a good long hike.
I hit the lower falls first. Wafting through the air ,as I approached, a mixture of stinky weed, stoner giggles and rushing water. The stoner gigglers were enjoying the day atop the rocks of the falls. Not a bad way to spend an afternoon. I walked past them and followed the yellow rectangular markers onward. I passed a young girl and for a good twenty minutes or so meandered through small muddy pools, narrow trails, rock and branch foot paths, a blue towel and a florescent orange bib. I eventually came to the snow mobile bridge marked on my trial map. I followed the brook path the rest of the way passing fast running streams, peeper orchestra bogs, small micro-ponds, a sun tanning turtle, Blair Witch wooded round-a-bouts and a couple of high stepping upgrades. No need for any type of portable music device and head phones, the most beautiful sound track of birds, breezes, blue sky, water in all infinite disguises and sunshine followed me every step of the way. I came to where the trail hit a wider road/pathway. Possibly an access road. I followed this until I hit a bridge that was marked private property. I passed that and picked up the trail again. I was getting closer to the middle falls, I could hear them. The grade was becoming steeper, I passed a nice guy with a cool dog and finally made it to the middle falls. These falls are rather high up and wedged in a crevasse so they are hard to see. I hung out for about ten minutes then decided to head back. I wanted to revisit some of the places I passed for possible photo ops.
I had some difficulty following the trail on the return trip. I headed back the way I had come in, so possibly the markers are harder to see. Be aware and also look for the old white rectangular trail markers that are painted on trees along with the yellow ones. I tried several times to get my gear out, as there were some great sites to photograph but it ended up in total frustration. The light wasn't right, tripod troubles, misplaced filter, SMOG!!!!!. I ended up using my cell phone camera. I know, I know but I did manage to get some decent shots. I finally hit the lower falls, sans those crazy kids and their gaunga haze. I explored a little before I snapped the picture above and picked up the trail to the parking lot. My car was the only one left. I liked this trail it had just what I needed after six months of light deprivation good scenery, lots of water forms, critters and most importantly solitude.
Quick side note: I had noticed some mosquito activity notably when I had stopped to unpack my camera gear and not use it, nothing major. Nothing like the swarms of gnats that follow you around like a bugs bunny cartoon but I could see it being a problem as the spring progresses. So if your heading out bring the spray. If your doing this trail do bring some water. I enjoyed a good long swig and a Braeburn apple on my way back. Happy Traveling