Thursday, September 5, 2013

North Brother (#67/67 NE4k) plus 3 NEHH peaks.

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Third day of my Baxter Park trip 08/06/13

Mt Coe (NEHH), South Brother(NEHH), North Brother (My last NE4K) ,and Fort (NEHH bushwack)

Baxter State Park Trip,  Day 3; 


Click here to go back to days 1 and 2 of this trip (Katahdin).

The following is a blow by blow verbose description of the 3rd  days of the trip that probably is only of interest to myself. Jump down to the photos and captions for the  short version.

          Thursday Sept 6, 2013, I wasn’t sure if I’d hike today or wait until Friday to do the Brothers loop hike because of threat of morning rain.  I didn’t get up until 6am, the weather looked okay and I didn’t feel too sore so decided to go for it.  The new resident to the bunkhouse had slipped out early.  I Started the wood stove to try and dry off some gear while I packed, then headed to the Martson Trailhead ~4 miles away down Tote Rd. Got to the trailhead at ~ 0715 and found a group of 7 hikers that are members of a website I use to check trail conditions on and occasionally post to (Views From the Top VFTT).  Chris Dailey was one of them and this is the group that had hiked the Katahdin Peaks the day before just behind me.  Looking back at my times now, I believe I was ahead of them all day and they may have just passed me when I had to cut back to Chimney Pond to pick up my gear.  I knew several of the members of this group by their on-line trail names and had emailed several of them over the last few years concerning trail options. They asked me to join them since we had basically the same hiking plans for the day, but at the pace I hike I would have held them up or killed myself trying to stay caught up, so I declined.   I’ll reference Chris’s blog of this hike here since he has much better picture than I took.
     My plan for the day was to do a counter clockwise loop hike of Mt Coe, South Brother, and North Brother (my last NE4k), and if my legs and time permitted to pick up Fort Mt. which is another NEHH peak but is ~ an hour out and an hour back  bushwhack/heard path from  N. Brother.  Since I did get a late start (for me), at this point I was thinking of probably passing on Fort, if for no other reason, to have an excuse to come back up to this great park.
·         0716:  Left the Martson trailhead on Tote rd.  10 minutes after the VFTT group.   After 1.5 miles Martson intercepts Cole trail and turns left toward N. Brother.  I turned right onto Cole trail to pick up Mts Coe & S. Brother.
·         08:15 on Mt Coe trail to Mt Coe. This starts off as an easy trail on an eroded high side of a river but turns into a fairly steep hike up a long rock face passage that was also mostly wet a bit slippery in spots.  Once I reached this open area I could see the VFTT group almost out of sight ahead of me (see pics).  Mt Coe trail continues over the top of Mt Coe to intercept back with Martson trail forming a large loop.
·          10:40: Mt Coe ~3.2 miles from TH. Mt Coe had some excellent views North (East?) to Katahdin showing a side that I hadn’t seen yet.  I had and odd feeling here when I realized I had been hiking over 3 hours already. It really felt more like half an hour.  Did I blank out from exhaustion from the day before and was hiking on auto-pilot.  Or did somehow my internal clock get messed up – strange.
·         12:08 a short hike to S. Brother spur.  Then .3 miles up to S. Brother.  I almost dropped pack here and wished I had, it’s a long 0.3 boulder hike to S. Brother. Half way up I ran into the VFTT group again and exchanged photos. (see pics).  Someone made the comment that I wasn’t that slow of a hiker, but I was already half an hour behind them and I’m sure they took longer for photo shots on Coe and S.B. than I did.  On S. brother I tried to take a time lapse picture of me on top of the large rock there but 10 second delay wasn’t enough time to get up on it. (see pics)
·         ~1300 back down from S. Brother on to the junction with Martson trail and on to N. Brother, I think I was on auto pilot again because in don’t recall much until I reached N. Bother my 67/67 NE4K peak.  It’s a rocky peak with great views but by now it was very windy and cold ~40F?  so I didn’t hang around much and didn’t bother to pull out my celebratory bottle of Corona that I had packed up.
·          Now was decision time.  I figured I still had a 4 hour hike back to the trailhead from here and I should be able to finish by sunset, or I could go on and try to bag Fort and put in my bag of New England Hundred Highest (NEHH) and finish the last few miles in the dark.  What the heck I have a good headlamp, flashlight and plenty of batteries - I’ll go for it.  Somehow at that point I had forgotten the rational of leaving Fort as an excuse to come back.
·         Evidently the Marston trail once continued from N. Brother to Fort but it had long since been abandoned as a maintained trail and was now a bushwhack/heard path.   If you pushed the spruce branches away you could still see signs of a beaten trail.  Going over to Fort proved easier than coming back and I stayed on the old trail most of the way. I ran into the VFTT group one last time as they were coming back from Fort.  I found that Tim had deliberately skirted the peak of N. brother so that he could claim it on the way back for completing his NE4ks and NEHH simultaneously I gave him a premature congratulations and he congratulated me for just finishing my 67NE4k. I should have rubbed it in that I finished the NE4k before him since he hadn’t tagged N. Brother yet – LOL. ( Technically I didn’t because you have to make it back down to a trailhead for a peak to count)
·         The bushwhack to Fort wasn’t nearly as tough as Mendon was several weeks earlier.  There are two cairns on Fort A lot of people tag both just in case though I think it’s apparent which the summit is. For some reason there was a lot less wind on Fort and I spent way too much time enjoying the day before heading back to N. brother and then down. This was #75/100 NEHH for me.  I’ll try and pick uop the other 25 next spring and summer. The winter will be devoted to my Winter NH4ks
·         Somehow I lost the heard path part way to N. Brother and had to do some climbing over a lot of dead trees and moss covered boulders, but still it wasn’t bad.
·         I reached North Brother the second time at ~ 1800, and it was still windy and even colder than before (strange that Fort wasn’t bad).  So my celebratory Corona stayed in the pack. A quick hike down put me back on the Martson trail / Coe trail junction just as it was starting to get dark, I pulled out my head lamp, flashlight and stashed spare batteries for each in my cargo pockets for easy access and headed on down.
·         Shortly thereafter after it got dark, very dark. I tried a few times to shut off my head lamp and had zero visibility.
·        Hiking down the dark narrow trail I couldn’t help but recall the flyer on the bunkhouse warning about black bears in the area. and was wondering what color the reflection of bear’s eyes are in a bright light.  My neck was getting sore from alternately looking down to see the trail and looking ahead for eye reflections.  “Lions, and Tigers and Bears Oh, My”  I went as far as unsheathing my folding 4” knife, wishing that I had brought my 6” K-bar, but knowing that if I did run into a bear , the outcome wouldn’t have anything to do with my actions – LOL
·         I have noticed that when I get real tired near the end of a long hike, I have semi - hallucinations where inanimate objects seem to move or metamorphasize (sp)?).  On the way down I saw several white rocks that temporarily changed into a wolf and a sleeping possum that looked was so real that I had to poke it to see of if it would wake up, a stack of dead trees that became a moose, and a huge white rock that I was certain was a pile of snow.  Must be some chemicals in my body left over from the 60’s.
·         I made it back down to the trailhead without incident except one slight slip and prat fall with no damage. Near 2245. (10:45pm) , my GPS claims I hiked 12.2 miles in 15.5 hours (Other than 0 .5 hrs on Fort Mt. most of this time was spent hiking. Yes, I am 1slow hiker – LOL
·         I signed  in at the logbook at the trailhead and found that the VFTT group had finished at 7:15 pm just before sunset as they had planned.
·         When I opened the back of my truck cap to stash my gear, there was a cold bottle of “Long Trail Ale” sitting on top of my cargo boxes waiting for me from the VFTT group.  I drank it and my bottle of Corona, just sitting in the dark in my truck with my boots off enjoying the rest of the day.
·         At midnight I headed back to my private $11/day “private cabin”, started a fire in the wood stove (it was getting nippy) and collapsed into my Bunk.
BSP trip day 4:
 I slept until about 7am (got up once to throw on a few more logs into the wood stove) packed up and headed out. Just as I was leaving the Nesowanehunk camp road, a female moose crossed the road in front of me and wandered into a field to munch on some frosted leaves. I took a picture from my truck, and since she seemed obliging, I got out and was able to get a picture from  less than 10-15  feet away (see pics) before she moved on. This moose was much smaller than the one I saw the first day so it may have been pretty young.
·         Justoutside the gate I picked up a backpacking hitch hiker and his dog.  Turns out that he was an AT section hiker (from W. Va.  I think) that had just finished the last 100 mile wilderness section of the AT, and needed a ride into town to get cell service to call someone for a lift back to his car at the start of that leg.  Dogs are not allowed in BSP but he said that they turn a blind eye to AT finishers that come in from the AT.  I think this dog may be the dog that Chris Dailey has a picture of on his Katahdin hike.
·         Uneventful drive back to RI.  -  but lots of good memories of this and the past hikes that got me to theNE4K finish.   I’ve told my wife I’m going to give hiking a break until at least Dec 21st when I can start picking away at my winter NH4k peaks.  I enjoy hiking in the winter better anyway; less  people,  no bugs,  smoother trails, and easier on the knees.  Her response was;  SURE!


The "Cozy Cabin" bunkhouse at 6 a.m.

Somehow I forgot to get a picture at the trailhead while talking to the VFTT group

Start of the Coe Trail along an eroded side of a river..

Coe open rock bed (slabs) trail up to cole

wet rock face trail not too slippery and easily managed (at my pace)

more slabs

you can almost make out some of the VFTT group here.

Partially zoomed in.
The VFTT group almost out of site but visible with my telphoto.

Day starting to clear - I'm glad I decided to go for it even though I got a late start.


views from Coe

Coe Peak (NEHH)

  Coe summit #74/100 NEHH

more views: from Coe:

I didn't know it when I took this, but after seeing Chris's site I now know this is double top Mt. with views of "seahorse",  "witch", "slice of pizza", and "moose print" slides.

zoomed in below;
 {add zoomed in pic here}

The VFTT group coming down the spur from S. Brother as I was going up. I would see them one more time as I was bushwacking to Fort from N. Brother and they were returning to N. Brother

S. Brother Peak # 74 NEHH peak in the bag

I was trying to take a self photo, but my 10 second delay wasn't long enough to make it to the boulder peak on S. Brother.

views of the Chimney, Baxter Peak and the Saddle  on Katahdin

a closer view of the Chimney 

Another view of double top and it's slides
N. Brother - my final (#67) New England 4,000 footer. I should have taken a a better time delay pic for my last peak but it was too cold to stay long. I should have brought some light winter gloves but didn't.
Looking back at N. Brother from Fort Mt


Zoomed in view of Fort, You can just make out a few of the VFTT group celebrating Tim's simultaneous #67 NE4k and #100 NEHH. Being down wind I could hear them hooping and hollering ,  

Exploded view of the above.
One of two cairns on top of Fort #75/100 NEHH

Views from Fort. It was a lot less windy and warmer on Fort than on N. Broteher so I hung out here for a while,  (too lomg - burning daylight!)

Still on Fort with both peak Cairns behind me
(there is some dispute about which is the true peak so I tagged both.

Back on the bushwack to N. Other some of the trees were marked with orange surveyors tape (center)to mark the way. I still managed to lose the heard path a few times.

Coming up  to N. Brother the mountain shadows were filling in behind me..

There is an old trail in here somewhere.

A jet passing over N. Brother

cairn marking beginning of the bushwack from N. Brother is now visible

Back at N. Brother, even colder than before. guess I'll be carrying my celebratory bottle of Corona back down with me. Somehow I lost the time stamp setting on my camera, but I think this was near 6pm so I used up over 3 hours of daylight bagging Fort. It was worth it.
It got pitch dark by 730pm so there are no more photos until I'm down at the trailhead.

Not sure why I took this picture with a flash. I think it was at the only real river crossing going back down.

As I was hiking down the trail in the dark by headlamp I couldn't help but think about the bear warning sign that was posted in the bunkhouses:

Finally down, I Signed in at the logbook back at the trailhead.  My time: 7:20am - 10:40pm:  15 hrs and 20 minutes.
VFTT group: 715am - 715pm:  12 hours.  And one of them had said that I didn't seem that slow when we met on Coe spur trail.

 The VFTT guys left me a present of a cold Long Trail Ale in the back of my truck. Tim had a cooler of beer in his car to celebrate his finishes.  I sat in my truck in the dark with my boots off enjoying it and the Corona I had humped along on the hike. It had been two long hard enjoyable days of hiking.

Day #4 at Baxter State Park: 

I  woke up in a toasty wood stove heated cabin Friday morning with freezing temps outside and frost on the ground.

Just as I was driving out of the camground a female moose crossed the road in front of me and into a nearby field to munch on frosted leaves. I first took a picture from my truck;

but then got out to get a closer picture. She let me get to within 10-15 feet, gave me "the eye" then calmley walked off:

 Leaving Baxter State Park after a great 4 day hiking trip.  Hope to get back here some day.