THE LOST BOYS
From there we backtracked to the dam. At that point we could have followed a trail downstream along the west side of the Ausable River. However, I talked Larry into a slightly more demanding route. We climbed away from the river and on to two views from Lost Lookout. Those bonus views were nice, but not really worth the extra time and effort required.
From Lost Lookout we descended steeply alongside Beaver Meadow Falls. This waterfall is a beauty, even with low water, and the surrounding fall color added to the scene. I wanted to linger there, but it was late afternoon and we still had some ground to cover before we reached a campsite.
We followed the West River Trail downstream, passing a cool flume on the Ausable River. A short distance beyond we reached a junction with the Wedge Brook Trail. That was our route back, so we left the river, following Wedge Brook upstream. Moments later, a group of teenage boys caught up with us. They were trying to reach a viewpoint for sunset. I was a bit puzzled, as I didn’t think that there were any views up the Wedge Brook Trail. After talking with them, I realized that they were trying to get to the Lost Lookout. I eventually convinced them that they were heading up the wrong trail. I figured that they had less than 30 minutes of daylight left. They had to return to the West River Trail, head upstream for almost a mile, and then climb up the trail alongside Beaver Meadow Falls. Then they would still have some climbing to reach the actual overlook. I didn’t like their chances of making it for sunset.
We resumed the hike briefly, before arriving at the base of a mossy waterfall on Wedge Brook. The flow was paltry, but it was a cool spot. Larry found out just how slippery the rocks are there while trying to fill his water bottle!
From the waterfall we rejoined the trail and set an aggressive pace in hopes of making it to camp before dark. We failed miserably. We finished our second day in a row by headlamp, but I don’t regret it. I’m glad we made the most of our time in the Ausable River valley. The trail was uphill but fairly easy, and we didn’t have any trouble finding the campsite in the dark.
Our goal for the next day was to make it back to the car, or as close as possible. Our pace had been so slow due to the rough trails that I wasn’t confident that we could finish in one day. If not, we could camp at Johns Brook or Klondike and finish the next morning.
Fortunately, the trail was much better than what we had come to expect. After a steady climb we reached a gap on the ridge between Upper and Lower Wolfjaw Mountains. There is a limited view here, but the best part of the day was the amazing fall foliage on the descent to Johns Brook and beyond. The fall color was spectacular for most of the remainder of the hike.
The rest of the hike was relatively uneventful, and the pleasant weather persisted. We made it back to the car late that afternoon and headed back towards Clearfield. We stopped at a Five Guys near Albany for a quick dinner before resuming the journey. Initially I thought we would stop somewhere and get a hotel, but we ultimately decided to keep trucking. We got back well after midnight, but it was great to enjoy a lazy rainy day back in Clearfield.