Last Saturday the woods were calling so I glanced at my map looking for some not so far away shelters that I hadn’t been to. Being that I was the Lonesome Lake Caretaker all winter and before that was a summer caretaker at the tent/shelter sites the AMC runs I am used to being in the woods alone so this was not unusual for me.
I decided to go to Imp Shelter. After stuffing my pack and informing my roommate and others on where I was going and when I would return, I set out for the trail head.
There are a few different routes you can take to Imp. I chose the 3.6 mile Stony Brook Trail. The trail head starts off of highway 16 outside of Gorham. It has a nice size parking area. After the “Did I forget anything?” question I always ask myself before leaving the car, I started walking.
The trail starts out following a beautiful stream through a dense green fir forest with multiple river crossings, two of which have a bridge. The third does not. It took me a minute to find the right place for me to cross. I could see this crossing being a little tricky with high water.
After the more prominent crossing the trail connects with an old railroad grade that continues up at a very mild incline. All of the trail so far was bare ground; no micro spikes were needed. Not until the last 1 to 1 1/2 miles did I need micro spikes. At that point the trail becomes more single track and steep. Along the way I saw 5 hikers and lingering moose tracks!
At the the top of the Stony Brook Trail I was at the intersection of the AT and Moriah Brook Trail. You take a right on the AT and Imp shelter is 0.7 miles from that intersection. At that point you are not far from the Alpine Zone and you actually enter the Alpine Zone with beautiful views looking west just before dropping down to Imp shelter.
The site is 300 feet in from the sign. Imp is a beautiful site! Other than finding trash that other hikers had left the shelter is great and in good condition. The shelter has a top and bottom level and is relatively large. Just down from the shelter there is a bench with a view! I managed to bask in some sun before the cold and snow came. The site has a nice water source not far from the shelter. I brought Aquamira to treat my water. The site has a bear box available which is handy in the winter so mice don’t get your food. It also has a composting toilet, but don’t forget your toilet paper!
It was just me staying the night and I saw no other people after the five on the Stony Brook Trail. After I ate my dinner of Annies mac and cheese, a caretaker go to, I climbed into my zero degree sleeping bag with liner, read the shelter log and passed out. I slept with my boots in the bottom of my sleeping bag so they wouldn’t freeze and I also made a hot water bottle to put at my feet which is such a comfort when sleeping in cold temperatures. I must say it got pretty cold that night and snowed. The one thing I would have brought that I didn’t would have been a closed cell sleeping pad in addition to my Nemo blow up pad to have extra insulation.
The next morning was cold, snowy, and windy. I didn’t linger too long. I ate a granola bar, drank some water, packed up, and headed down the way I came up. Over all my overnight at Imp was relaxing, and I enjoyed exploring a trail and site I hadn’t been to.
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AMC Backcountry Information Specialist