Pretty forest, but expected better views after such an intense hike. Got a bit lost trying to follow the west side of the loop due to the condition of the trail. Couldn't find the connection between the Joyce Kilmer and Stratton Bald trails IRL or on the park map, but the Stratton Bald trail runs into a road eventually and we were able to follow that back to the trailhead.

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

This strenuous hike had plenty of obstacles including a tree top that had fallen across 20 feet of the trail within the first half mile off of Joyce Kilmer Loop. There is a sign that points the way to Jenkins Meadow Trail (faint unmarked trail to the right) or continue straight 20 feet there is a fork. If you take the left fork its a small alternate section of Naked Ground Trail that goes to a campground near the creek but I lost the trail and had to go back to the fork and take the fork to the right. I crossed multiple streams feeding into the Little Santeelah and there were too many tree trunks in trail to count. Some had to crossed over and some had to be taken from underneath. At one point I had to remove my pack to go underneath. Once you hit the switch backs you are close to the top but those switchbacks seem never ending. I did not encounter another hiker on this trail on my way up or down. About 1.2 miles into the climb I encountered a huge bolder with a natural smiley face (I included a picture). This was a very strenuous hike, all uphill and the higher I climbed the steeper it got.