I still have a lot to learn about hiking and backpacking...
I started the day off by parking at the wrong TH. I wanted to park at Bennet St TH and somehow ended up at Ferncroft. I didn't realize my mistake til the first trail intersection about 1/2 mile into the woods. Ooops. Would have just continued but my wife had an iternary and I felt like I should stick to it.
OK, so lets try this again, right TH ?, Check, and away I go.
Enjoyed a nice walk along the trail bed of the old Beebe River R&R. Tried to go take a look at Guinea Pond but it was way too wet. Not even 100 yards along the spur which is suppose to be 400 yards (0.2 miles), I was stopped by a nice little bog that extended as far into the woods as I could see in all directions . Spotted what looked like the remains of a bog bridge about 50 yards into this bog. So no Guinea Pond from me.
When I got up to Black Mountain Pond, I saw the USFS 1/4 mile sign that shows no camping areas. But where is the call out for the shelter? Pulled out my WODC map and my NH F&G topos, both show a shelter. Huh?
After lots of searching, including hiking the trail until it starts up the ridge to Black Mountain/Sandwich Dome, I realize another shelter is no longer with us and I feel even more foolish that I did eariler in the day.
Found a "just legal" site with a nice view of the Pond and Ridge and hung my hammock and tarp. Enjoyed a nice supper and played with starting a camp fire in wet conditions [still having trouble getting from tinder and twigs to a sustained fire].
Later that night, a torrential rainstorm woke me up. While thinking about what I will do if my tarp fails, I learn what a thunderstorm is like in the mountains. WOW. WOW. Good fun in retrospect but kind of scary at the time.
The next morning the fog was so thick I couldn't see the pond, so I decided to forego looping over Sandwich Dome and just hike back the way I came in.
All the easy rock hops of the previous day became much too interesting after a night of rain. At the first crossing I had to move some small diameter blowdowns to make a bridge. At the next crossing I bushwhacked upstream a bit to a swampy area and crossed at a spot where it was over my knees with a strong current but I could see the bottom very clearly and there were a nice bed of pebbles.
At the Beebe River, the trail crosses at a river bend. Fortunately, the USFS or WODC had placed three big flat boulders in the deep part near the "elbow". From the previous day, I knew that the water level on the boulders would be the same depth as the rest of the crossing. SO if I was ok on the first stepping stone then I could get across ok. The water was about mid-thigh but the current was gentler than the previous knee-high crossing due to the width of the river at that point. I used my hiking poles to maintain three points of contact.
Then I finally hit a stream I wasn't comfortable trying to cross [north branch of the Cold River]. The stream had steep bankings and a goodish slope. I tried bushwhacking upstream and downstream but things looked worse in both directions.
Thought about just camping there next to the stream and spending a second night out but that would mean my wife would report me missing.
Sat down, had something to eat and drink, and started looking at the map and the topos. Decided to hike out via Sandwich Notch Road. Walked out to the intersection of Sandwitch Notch Road and the road over to the Boy Scout camp and ditched the backpack in the woods.
Figured about an 11-12 mile road walk back to the car but at least I could call home when I got to Sandwich so Claudine wouldn't call for a rescue The third car stopped and drove me ALL THE WAY BACK TO MY CAR. A big thank you to that couple.
So now I know to not be in rush at the TH, make sure the shelter is still exists, think twice before camping out when thunderstroms are expected, and finally I totally understand how people get stuck in the Great Gulf behind the Prescott River, or behind Wild River or behind Lincoln Brook...