Forest Road 10 to Big Branch Shelter and Old Job Shelter.
We were excited for this new adventure that would take us to two shelters in one lovely hike. We wanted a jump on the day so we arrived at the parking area on Forest Route 10 just after 8:30 am.
The trail was beautiful. The sun shone down on us and the weather was absolutely perfect. The Big Branch Shelter is very close to the parking area (a little more than a mile in), so it is often used by non-hikers. We didn't see any evidence of other users when we arrived at the shelter.
Views from the shelter were serene. The Big Branch River is 100 feet away from the shelter and it was rushing with water. The bridge spanning the river seemed very new and it was a beautiful homage to Vermont wilderness caretakers.
Weather at Big Branch Shelter
Trip length: 13.95 miles
Departure time: 8:44 am
Return time: 3:44 pm
We reached the trail split to Griffith Lake and Old Job shortly after crossing the bridge. Our planned route was a loop to Griffith Lake then off the AT to traverse through the Old Job site.
The hike to Baker Peak was very nice but held nothing over the view from the peak itself. It was magnificent. The valley below was unbelievable. We had a clear view of Dorset Quarry, the location where marble was quarried for the New York Public Library, The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and Harvard's medical school buildings. We took the marked route, which was a huge rock scramble, but saw that the bad weather route would be a must with water or frost on the trail. Mike hopped along down the rocks as we descended Baker Peak, apparently rich with mountain goat skills that I heretofore had not appreciated. My descent was much slower and uncertain. No mountain goat here.
We enjoyed lunch at the picturesque Griffith Lake while we visited with a Green Mountain Club caretaker. Refueled and refreshed, we resumed our hike.
We crossed a number of snowmobile bridges as we cut back to the Appalachian Trail and heard a number of hikers reveling in the refreshing Lake Brook. We found that the blue-blazed trail had been re-routed when we reached Forest Road 30. The previous trail, while much prettier, was becoming a risk to the conservation effort of the forest and needed to re-vegetate. This was our first time to take pretty new part of the trail. The effect of hundreds of hikers plodding down a trail is amazing -- the new section did not have much use and looked unused.
The Old Job Site is a little more than a mile from FR 30. This once bustling 19th century village, originally known as Mill Glen, was the site of a large mill, cabins, boarding house, offices, homes and charcoal kilns. It was largely abandoned after 1910 when the milling was moved to another location. The area is now a historic site, preserved for its heritage. Believe it or not, a huge sawdust pile still remains near the Old Job Site (yes, almost 110 years later).
We continued along and passed a few more areas of abandoned settlements before rejoining the trail split near the Big Branch bridge. Mike decided to stop and take a dip before we returned to the parking area. It was a fantastic day!