Weather: Overcast, comfortably cold winter day
My hiking buddy and I got to the trailhead for Haystack at about 10:30am, and after fuddling with our equipment for 10 minutes, we set off on the trail. It was a beautiful day, with some snow cover, and we had come prepared with ski pants (to keep the butt dry during butt scooting, of course) and microspikes, so we were all set.
The trail starts out pretty mellow, a relatively flat walk through the woods. For whatever reason, I didn’t take many pictures along this trail, however those I did take were of the incredible ice formations and the gushing brook (not quite a river, but still impressive) that the trail begins to follow about 1.5 miles in.
We were absolutely mesmerized by the waterfalls, and the ice hanging off of various logs in the river. Unfortunately, the river sits in a little ravine, but I wanted to get nice and close to I climbed down the banks right to the edge. Worth it! I was pretty thankful for my microspikes at this point.
The trail really started to climb after this point, and we soon came across some weird building remains at about 2.2 miles. We had read that there was an old dam up ahead on this trail, so maybe the two were connected? At any rate, it’s a strange place for a house, but i wouldn’t have minded living there!
Now we knew that somewhere along the trail up Haystack, there would be a trail branching off to the right that heads towards McKenzie. We never saw it, and just hoped we were on the right one. Shortly after we passed the crumbling foundation, we came upon the dam. There was no bridge, and we watched one lady with her dog hop across some wobbly rocks at the bottom of the dam. We were at a loss of how to get across without falling in (being the graceful creatures that we are), when two gentlemen coming down the trail on short x-country skis just walked right along at the top of the dam where the cement wall of the dam keeps the water pretty shallow. We shook our heads at how oblivious we were to have not noticed that, and carefully crossed at the same spot. We emerged on the other side with totally dry feet! Thanks, Keen boots! From this point, the trail would climb steeply, then even out, then climb some more, etc. It was actually a really nice hike, and we never got too out of breath. At about 3 miles, the trail began the final steep climb, going up a gully to the left of some cliffs to emerge on the first ledge at 3.2 miles. After a slight dip, the trail continued to the summit at 3.3 miles.
We were so warm when we got to the top at 1:30, we did what was probably the dumbest thing we have ever done on a hike: we took off our jackets to be standing on the top of the mountain wearing just sweat-soaked cotton T-shirts. We weren’t even wearing appropriate moisture-wicking clothing. Luckily, we had our senses to put our layers back on before we became hypothermic. We did have some nice views from the rocky ledge, though many of the high peaks that are further away were obscured by the low clouds. We hung out for a little bit, ate some lunch, and headed back the way we came.
We made it back to the stream, where we stopped again to admire the scenery. It was so peaceful and quiet here, I could have lain down to have a nap, easily. At any rate, we continued on after snapping some pics of the elusive bat-sicles! (see below).
The rest of the hike was uneventful, and we made it back to the car at about 3:30 after a beautiful, rewarding day in the woods.
Haystack Mountain: 2878′ Elevation Gain: 1706′
Round Trip Distance: 6.6 miles
Total Duration: ~5 hours
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