Today began just like the last few days: cool, cloudy, and with plenty of moisture in the air, but today felt different: the overall brightness gave us a bit of hope that it would clear up.
We had to take Dad to our favorite find of this year, the Black Friar Inn, for breakfast. He immediately loved the atmosphere. The pub was still closed when we arrived but a minute later Tom and Jennie came running in, excited to see that there was a line. Johnny was cooking, they assured us. Service was efficient and friendly and the food was just as good as it had been on Friday.
Dad had the combo breakfast with a blueberry pancake and orange juice, I had the blueberry pancakes again, and Rich had the friar’s breakfast. He shared a Friar Fry with me. Rich also had cranberry juice and I had pineapple juice in addition to my tea. The inn was quiet this morning, with only one other group of five friends sitting at the large table in the pub.
Little Hunters Beach to Jordan Pond House
Our plan for today was to take the bus to Little Hunters Beach, hang around there for about 30 minutes until the next bus came by, and then head to Jordan Pond House for a hike. The bus driver knew where Little Hunters Beach is. This is kind of a curiosity. It used to be on the park maps and have signage along the road, but that’s no longer the case. It’s almost as though the Park Service wants to turn it into another hidden/abandoned place, but then for some reason there is a new informational sign for the beach, set back from the road near the wooden staircase.
After taking a few minutes to search for the abandoned Little Hunters Beach trailhead across the road (we found nothing; that will require more research!) we walked down the damp wooden staircase onto the windblown cobble beach. A gushing flume of water was running down beneath the stone arch bridge from the higher elevations onto the cobbles. Fascinating how at one point the stream of water completely disappeared beneath the rocks, only to appear again a few yards closer to the ocean. Dad and I played around on the rocks while Rich took some video of the stream and of us playing around on the rocks.
An adventure on the Jordan Stream Trail
We climbed back up to the road about half an hour later and easily caught the Park Loop Road bus, which took us to the Jordan Pond House. Our goal was to walk some of the Jordan Stream Trail and then return on the carriage roads (and then check out the popover situation).
The hike began easily enough, crossing the carriage road on what would be the first of many wooden bridges. We could see right away that trail work was underway. Most of the bogwalks on the northernmost part of the trail have been replaced recently. Not much further along, we actually came across the trail crew at work! We couldn’t see much of what they were doing, but they had pulleys and chains set up as well as lots of wood piled around for the repairs they were making. They had set up a bypass for the area in which they were working so we looped up and around and back to the trail.
Soon we passed beneath the 1917 cobble bridge—an intricate work of stonecraft that has been maintained in perfect condition. After this point, the hiking became trickier. There were at least half a dozen wooden bridges well past their useful lives that were not only slanting and rotten but also slippery from the recent wet conditions. Most of them we didn’t even attempt to cross but found other ways, either by skirting them when they crossed mud or by crossing very carefully on rocks in the case of the longer bridges that crossed the stream. The last wooden bridge we came to was pretty long and in very poor condition, but it had a handrail, so Rich was willing to cross it while I crossed via the stream itself.
This is where things became weird. We could find no sign of the trail on the other side of the stream, and yet if it didn’t go here, why was there a bridge?! There are no other trails in the area. I picked a point off my GPS that appeared to be the point where the trail would turn up to the carriage road and we navigated toward it through the moss and the muck. Soon we came to a point where the stream was flowing deep and there was a nice new bridge … on the other side.
Before long a German hiker and his Asian hiking partner came by, on the correct side of the stream. They didn’t have any helpful information for us other than to say that they didn’t see an easy way for us to cross. The only thing we could do was to take off our shoes and walk right through. It was deep and cold but actually quite refreshing and it was an easy walk on rounded cobblestones.
We still have no idea how we ended up on the wrong side of the stream. Why was there an extra (or a missing) bridge? Why was that bridge there if we were supposed to stay on the other side of the stream? These are mysteries we might answer next time, especially if the trail crew makes it through and completes the repairs. According to Pathmakers, the trail was last rehabilitated in 1941 (and I would believe it from the condition of some of the bridges, but they weren’t in nearly such poor condition when we hiked that trail just 4 years ago). The trail also supposedly follows the approximate route of a pre-1760 Indian carry path.
No popovers, but pizzaroni
By the time we got back to Jordan Pond House, the place was mobbed and it was a 45 minute wait for popovers. We were all tired so we decided to try it another day and head back for some rest and then pizza at Rosalie’s for supper. One medium plain/sausage and one small pizzaroni worked out perfectly, along with three 20-ounce Shipyard Export Ales. After a bit of shopping and walking around, we had ice cream for dessert. Dad had his usual soft blueberry from CJ’s while Rich and I went to MDI Ice Cream for dreamsicle ice cream and sour cherry sorbet.