On Thursday, March 2nd I was scheduled to hike with my brother-in-law Jeff and son Kurt. Jeff wanted to hike to the site of the old Beech Mountain Boy Scout Camp near Hodge Pond. He attended the camp in the 1960’s as a member of the Boy Scout troop in Monticello. I had been to the site several times and knew there were a few building still standing. When I got up at 5:30 AM, the wind was blowing at least 20 mph and I almost contacted Jeff and Kurt to offer to postpone the hike. I decided against calling them and waited to see if they contacted me. When I returned from my church men’s group at 8:00 AM, neither Jeff nor Kurt had called so I knew we would be hiking. Kurt did text me later and say he would be delayed to about 10:00 AM so when Jeff arrived at 9:30 AM we sat down to talk. Kurt showed up just after 10:00 AM and we got all our gear together and loaded my car to start out the DebRuce Road. The temperature was right around 30 degrees but the wind made it feel MUCH colder. I put on a baselayer under a heavy Patagonia wool top and wore tights under myColumbia Omniheat pants. I wore my Salomon Nytro boots which seem to have just the right amount of insulation. I knew there wouldn’t be much snow so I didn’t bother with snowshoes or spikes. I donned my Mammut hoody which I wear in almost all conditions where a jacket is needed. When we arrived at the trailhead, there were no vehicles in the main lot. Both lots were almost bare although there was a light coating of new snow that had fallen overnight and into the early morning. At 10::35 AM we crossed the road and started out on the Flynn Trail. It was about 30 degrees but seemed much colder due to the wind although the sun was shining from a bright blue sky. I was glad I had brought a warm hat and gloves. There was a layer of snow on the trail through the woods but it was bare in spots. When we got to the woods road, we turned right and I stopped to take some pictures of the trail with a thin layer of snow. I took some shots and looked across the road to see if I could find the Old Flynn Road that Fred Fries had described and could see it without a problem. As we gained elevation, there was a little more snow on the trail. We set a good pace as we headed for the junction with the Big Rock Trail. At 1.1 miles we turned right off the trail and walked to an open area that covers several acres. The area has a thin layer of dirt over bedrock but there is no indication of how it formed. There is a woods road that runs from the Flynn Trail which was once Beech Mountain Road to the south ends of this area. Some people have suggested that dirt and gravel was taken from this area when the road was built. I took some pictures while Jeff and Kurt explored the area. They returned to where I was standing and I packed up my camera and we returned to the Flynn Trail.
We continued on the trail and at one point we came across a large tree across the trail. Several branches had broken off but I knew it would take an axe or a saw to completely clear the mess. There were quite a few branches on the trail and it was obvious the recent high winds had been responsible. We arrived at the junction at 11:36 AM and stopped to take a few pictures. There was snow covering the trails and the entire junction. We started out again on the Flynn Trail heading toward Hodge Pond. At the next trail junction we stayed right to walk on the woods road heading toward the site of the old Beech Mountain Boy Scout Camp. In about half a mile we passed the left turn down to Hodge Pond. We stayed on the road and came to a Y where we stayed left to get to the camp site. We walked off the road to inspect some of the remaining buildings. Jeff was pretty sure that the buildings were ones that were used for the activities that led to merit badges. After fifty years it was hard for him to orient himself and to remember exactly where other parts of the camp had been located. One larger building appeared to be the residence of the caretaker of the camp. We went back out to the road and walked a little farther northwest before turning around and heading back passed the camp. We walked to the road down to Hodge Pond and took a right to walk downhill toward the water. When we got to the road around the pond, we turned left to walk down to the open area at the outlet end of the pond. As we walked into the open area, we were hit by a blast of cold wind. Jeff and Hurt went to explore the outlet stream and I walked over to the fire ring. I dropped my pack and got out my camera to take a few pictures of the pond. There was some blue sky and clouds but the scene was much the same as many times when I had been there before. I noticed that my hands were very cold so I put away the camera and we walked into the woods on the Flynn Trail heading south and up the hill. The walk up the hill can seem long but having people to talk to made it seem much shorter. At the trail junction I explained the options and we decided to head down the Big Rock Trail to Times Square, We turned right and started own the trail making good time on the descent. About half way down we came to a large beech tree that had blown down across the trail. I knew the diameter was more than two feet and cutting it with a hand saw and axe would be challenging. The Big Rock Trail is also used by snowmobiles and I made a note to mention this obstacle to some friends in the local snowmobile club. The snowmobile club is allowed to use chainsaws while the hiking trail maintainers are limited to hand tools!
We arrived at Times Square at 1:15 PM after hiking 5.1 miles. I led the others straight ahead on the Big Rock Trail around the north and west side of Frick Pond. I did notice that Times Square was not as wet as in the past and that much of the water was passing through the culvert instead of flowing over the trail. We continued on the trail passing over the two small bridges that carry the trail over the inlet streams. We passed under some evergreen trees and crossed the long wooden walkways that still had some ice and snow on them. As we came out of the woods, Sheila alerted and we saw a single hiker coming toward us. I took Sheila by the collar and walked off the side of the trail to let him pass. He had a camera with a large lens but his dress seemed strangely out of place for hiking on this cold day. We followed the Big Rock Trail to the junction with the Quick Lake trail where we turned left. Soon we were walking over the bridge at the outlet of Frick Pond. I dropped my pack and got out the camera as this is a spot that I cannot resist. I took pictures of the pond and the water downstream from the bridge. I also got some shots of Jeff, Kurt and Shiela on the bridge. We walked up the hill to Gravestone Junction and continued straight ahead on the Quick Lake trail. As we passed the Lobdell gravestone, I related the story of the two children killed in a cabin fire in 1933. The walk back to the car went quickly even though we had to avoid some wet spots on the trail. We passed the trail register and continue on the woods road back to the car. We arrived back in the parking area at 2:00 Pm after hiking6.2 miles in 3 hours and 20 minutes with an elevation gain of 980 feet. The temperature was still only 33 degrees and the wind continued to blow but the sun shone brightly making it feel warmer.