To MacKay Lake (Mt.St. Benedict)
Trail Key: M~2~RT~R~H~V~ST
The trail head is on road right side, just before the bridge.
It's up, up, up right from the get go...switchbacking and snaking to a logging road. Go left!
There's a couple of branches, stay left. Follow the steep rocky road up for a good km and there's a trail with red flagging tape to the right. Don't take it. Instead keep going up the logging road which gets a little flatter and skinnier. The logging road starts to get grassy as you look ahead another trail on your right with pink & orange flagging tape. There's 2 sets of 3 sticks, one with a pot on it. Take this trail. You cross a dirt path over a little running creek.
A quick walk up a creek bed then a snaky somewhat hilly trail and into another creek bed. A few creek crossings and back on a rocky & rooty trail.
Soon the trail gets a little muddy and weaves along as you hear a rushing creek on your left and see a debris chute high above on your right.
Keep going and not too much longer McKay Lake emerges in front of you go down the trail and a rushing creek is to your left. Several logs are at the mouth of the creek. Cross them. This can be your destination. The rushing creek and logs far in the water make a nice spot for lunch. You might even have the area to yourself.
If you feel up for the challenge after you cross the logs you'll see a traditional orange square trail marker and a wooden stump, follow this to Mt St. Benedict. It weaves it's way to a crossing and up some roots. Soon you'll see MacKay Lake far below and at this point the trail gets steeper and steeper with a lot more ground to cover. I did not carry on due to daylight hours.
Scaredy Cat says you won't loose any of your nine lives to MacKay Lake. Happy & safe hiking!
From the logging we took the wrong trail, the first one. I might add so did 5 other people after us. This was an old logging area (logging tape is longer with writing on it. It's not your traditional flagging tape you'd see on a trail) and what I'll call, 'The Dead Forest.' Each time I reached out for a hand from a tree it spoke back to me with the words of, "I'm tired." It's once lively presence now was crumbling in my hands and falling to the ground. As I walked on with my party well ahead there came a time while hugging the mountainside when my gut was no longer whispering the sounds of...this is not right to screaming words of ...This is NOT right. This is not a trail! With my hiking party not impressed with me turning back on my own, they understood and let me go. Believing they had steps to go they carried on in search of MacKay Lake and the summit of Mt. St. Benedict. They would never meet either. As I realized while munching on my lunch at the MacKay Lake. I returned to the logging road and walked about 10 minutes and found the proper TH and was excited to see them at the top. It never happened.
They trenched on as the grade became incredibly steeper but with light pouring from in between the trees they still believed they were on route to MacKay Lake.
Here's some words of their journey:
Christine said, "It was lovely & challenging going up. It was horrific, mind numbing and hell on the way down.. A full body workout. Sticks and twigs dangerously close to my insides. My heart was hurting on the way down.
Wendy said, "I think there's twigs in all parts of my body. If a cougar found me I would not resist, take me now I'd tell the wild animal as it will save me from this hell. I didn't realize I was that flexible. I don't like flagging tape anymore. I was up close and personal with trees & rocks. Someone asked me, "Did you bring your crampons..." "No it's a moderate hike." I replied. Moderate if you went up the correct trail.
Redina said..."A gong show. I didn't know I had chest muscles until I woke up this morning in pain. We were literally swinging from the trees...we were spider woman and through it all was Irene the mountain goat, completely happy in her element."
I just want to add how experienced and tough these lady hikers are. I'm grateful they got down safely and hope we can get up there again so I can show them how beautiful this hike truly is. What would have I done different yesterday...maybe tried a little harder to get them to come with me to go and find the proper TH or left a note for them saying I was trying to find the correct TH. I had left notes at MacKay Lake and beyond but not helpful when they never made it there.
We are trying new things, stepping out of our comfort zones and learning more and more together as we grow in nature.