We met at the Cambridge Park & Ride just before 8:30 and took one car up to the top of Smuggler’s Notch. For a fall day there were surprisingly few cars and we had no problem finding a place to park.

We started up the Sterling Pond trail around 8:45 with cool crisp temperatures and under clear skies. We reached Sterling Pond around 9:30 and Madonna summit around 10:40. We took a little break to take in the views and then continued along the LT reaching Chilcoot Pass around 11:20, the high point on Morse Mt around 11:50, and Whiteface shelter around 12:30.We stopped for lunch, then headed up Whiteface, getting to the summit around 1:10.

When we got back to Whiteface shelter we decided to make a loop of it, going down to Beaver Meadow and up Chilcoot trail rather than returning the way we’d come over Morse Mt. The little tiny map in the Long Trail Guide made it look like it might not be much harder, but looks can be deceiving. The descent to Beaver Meadow was no problem, but Chilcoot trail was a very steep climb back to Chilcoot Pass, which we reached around 3:20.

From there we headed back up Madonna and on to reach Sterling Pond shelter around 4:50, where we talked with 6 people staying there; 3 on an LT through hike from MA, and three out for the night. We had seen a number of other folks along the way, most out for the day like we were, but some on a multi-day LT trip. But the trail did not seem at all crowded. With all the major climbs behind us, we made good time the rest of the way, reaching the car around 5:45. There was very little foliage color, with most trees still green, and others having gone straight to brown; we suspected this was due to the recent warm weather and sparse rain over the past month. Hopefully more color will develop over the coming days and weeks.

Participants: Lauren Wilkinson, Max Seaton, David Hathaway (leader).