Monday, December 8, 2014

Baldpate Mt.- Failed Attempt

CLICK HERE TO GO TO my Winter New Hampshire (WNH4K) 4K hikes.
CLICK HERE TO GO TO my Maine/Vermont 4K hikes on the New England 4K (NE4K).
CLICK HERE TO GO TO my New Hampshire 4K (NH4K) hikes.
CLICK HERE TO GO TO my New England Hundred Highest (NEHH) list.

 The East peak of Baldpate was to be my last Maine peak on my NEHH list.  West peak is not on any of my lists and is 1 mile short of my objective.  I only made it to west peak  and had to turn back shortly after reaching that peak and descending down its east face because:
1. I  had misinterpreted the mileage ( I was basing my hike on the distance to West Peak).
2. I had gotten a very late start because I had messed up setting my alarm.
3. It would have been after dark by the time I reached the East peak. Not normally a problem but with the trail condition and weather forecast it was a definite consideration.
4. The snow depth of the unbroken trail going down the  east side of West Peak had gotten up to 3 feet and seemed to be getting deeper. Also the snow was too light and powdery for my low flotation snowshoes to help any. 
5. I did not have much energy left after pushing through 2 ft of snow on the last section up to West Peak.
6. The weather forecast had possibility freezing rain after 6 pm.

I stood there in thigh deep snow for at least 10 minutes staring at my objective less than a half mile away, but over 300 feet down and another 400 feet up (meaning another 700 ft of elevation gain and loss). I considered all the above factors and reluctantly turned around. Half way back up to West peak I actually turned around again and weighed all these factors one more time 
I probably did the smartest thing by turning back  - uncommon for me.

 Parking across the street from the trailhead.  This is were the AT (Appalachian Trail) crosses Rt26
 The Eyebrow trail up to Old Speck Mt.  also starts here.  I did Old Speck with my brother in July of 2013. If I knew I was going to attempt the NEHH then I would have stayed a second day and picked her up.  The actual starting time is about 11:30 my camera time stamp was off. Very late for me but I wasn't too concerned because I had also misjudged the trail length and trail condition.

 Initial part of trail was fairly well broken out by boot traffic but it turned out to only be up to a hut that is half way up.

  After passing the branch off to the hut there were only signs of 1-2 people on snowshoes. Evidently  the tracks had been made before a recent melt and freeze, because despite the snow being powdery, the tracks were hard enough to walk on without snowshoes.

But, at this point were the there was an ice obstacle and the snow was getting deeper; the snow shoe tracks stopped...

 and there was no sign of the trail other than the white AT blazes and rabbit tracks

 This is near the west peak looking back down the trail.  Here the snow was fairly wind packed but  I had to trudge through areas up to 2 feet of soft powder to get here.

 This is near the west peak looking toward my objective  the east peak of Baldpate. I can't recall if I took this where I had turned around or from the west peak.

 This is on the way down at same spot I had taken the previous picture on the way up where all tracks had turned around. Note the white blaze on the tree.  The entire AT is marked with white blazes.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Stratton Mt. & Mt Equinox

I had hiked two other VT NEHH peaks last Saturday (Bread Loaf and Wilson) but never wrote up a trip report. The big difference between last weeks hike and this weeks  hike was that Bread Loaf & Wilson are along the same trail so I only had a shallow cole between them to hike both ways. This last hike was actually two separate hikes starting from two separate trail-heads separated by a 45 minute drive.
 I arrived at the Trail-head of the AT/LT (a section where the Appalachian Trail and the Long Trail overlap) on Arlington-Stratton Rd (also known as Kelly Stand Rd) at about 6 am – I had left RI at ~ 0230 am.  My plan for the day was to bag Stratton and if I got back down early enough to drive to either Equinox or Dorset to try and try to bag two peaks to minimize my gpp (gallons per peak) – or $pp. The road was a combination of bare new pavement and a thin layer of packed slippery snow.   I started off by headlamp ~ 30 minutes before the sunrise. Stratton had a light dusting at the bottom with less than 2”  at the top. Lower water crossings were still wet but easy rock hops. The lower trail was light dusting over crunchy combinations of frozen mud and frozen snow. Upper trail started getting some hard ice that was slippery with light coat of dry snow but manageable without traction since they were mostly horizontal frozen puddles.  I reached the peak at about 9 am. It was cold and very windy - less than 20 degrees and greater than 30 knots I would guess.  I started going up the tower but only went half way because of the high winds and the iced steps.  I didn’t stay at the peak long because of the cold and my hopes of getting a second peak in before dusk. I had planned to put my spikes on at the top but forgot and was shortly reminded by a hard fall backwards (onto my pack).  It was a fast (for me) hike down and I reached the bottom at about 1030.   My cars gps said that it was only 9 miles to the trailhead for Equinox. Unfortunately that was via a closed road. After my old gps sent me through some alternate back roads and another detour with a bridge that had probably been out for several year, and a quick stop for a sandwich, I arrived at the Equinox preserve at about noon. 
The Equinox summit trail is only 3 miles each way vs. 3.8 for Stratton but has a lot more vertical elevation than the Stratton peak (2700’ vs. 1700’) that I had just done.  It starts off as a fairly easy grade wide trail (possibly an old carriage road) with a lot of local traffic of people walking their dogs. I saw three very hyper dogs (one Lab and two English setters I think) with gps collars with antennas attached bounding in and out of the woods. When their owners caught up with me they said on average (per their gps’s) the dogs hike about 5 times the distance they do on each hike. The first hour of this trail, though not that steep was very hard for me. I had to stop every 5 minutes for 10 seconds and lean on poles to catch my breath. I think the main problem was that I had forgotten to take my meds this morning before leaving RI - most importantly my Spiriva for my emphysema.  I was seriously fighting with myself against the temptation of turning back but finally bargained with myself that if  wasn’t reasonably close by 3pm that I’d head down.  I continued to slow my pace to the point that I didn’t have to keep stopping to get my breath but I was advancing at a ridiculous slow pace for such an easy trail.  About half way up in altitude, but probably 2/3rds by distance, the trail turns into a regular mountain trail – still not a scramble but steeper and narrower and more typical England Mountain trail.  There is a wooden bench where it transitions with views down the valley. I stopped for a five minute break and continued up the narrower trail.  Somehow I had caught my second wind or something at that point and the rest of the hike though steeper was not a problem. Except for dog walkers on the much lower sections I had not seen any other hikers until I was within 500 ft elevation of the top. This seemed a bit strange since there where dozens of fresh tracks in the light snow going up and down. When I finally met two hikers coming down they warned me that it was very icy the rest of the way and very windy and cold at the top.  I had noticed the ice getting worse at this point and stopped and put on my micro spikes. Shortly later I ran into two more hikers on their way down that confirmed that it was very windy on top. I held off on putting on more layers for the wind because I was still sheltered in the trees, though I could hear the high winds but was actually pretty warm with just several thin layers on. When I was only about 500 ft from the top, I finally took off my pack and put on a fleece insulation layer with a nylon shell over it.  I dropped pack and continue up to the top. The peak has an antennae tower on it with a closed welcome center nearby. There is actually a toll road that can be driven be up to the center in the summer.   I took a few pictures and headed down. There is an option of doing a short loop to Lookout Rock before heading down but I was already running late enough that I would be in the dark before reaching the bottom. My plan was to try and make it back down to where the trail widens before it got too dark.   On the way down I was lucky enough to have three deer bound across the trail only about 20 feet from me.  After three years of hiking in New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont, this is the very first time I’ve seen anything bigger than a beaver actually while on the trail. I’ve seen Moose a few times but it’s always been at or near the trailhead or while driving.  I was about dusk when I reached the carriage trail and I continued on for quite a while without needing a head lamp. But when I started getting closer to the bottom and heard a few gun shots I recalled that it was still deer season and put on my headlamp, not so much to see by, but to let hunters know that I wasn’t a deer.  It also started to drizzle freezing rain about half an hour from the bottom but it was very light and not a problem. The latest forecast I read the night before had called for freezing rain but it wasn’t supposed to come until the next morning.  I reached my truck feeling pretty good - much better than I did when I first started this second hike. Fifteen minutes after leaving the trailhead it started really raining hard – so I lucked out on that too.
This brings me up to 93 of the NE- Hundred Highest.   Three left in VT, one in Maine, and three in New Hampshire. My plan was to get as many done as possible before the start of winter then focus on my NH winter list (I have 25/48) with an initial hope of finishing the winter hikes this winter. With my performance on this hike, and the one last week (Bread Loaf and Wilson), I now realize that that would probably not be possible. So I think I’ll just focus on finishing my NEHH list first even if it goes into the winter and then work on my winter NE48 over at least two more seasons. 
I’ll try to post a few pictures later (nothing too interesting) but I’m in the process of transitioning from  a pc with a virus to a new lap top so it may take a while.


Saturday, November 15, 2014

Bread Loaf Mt & / Mt Wilson

CLICK HERE TO GO TO my Winter New Hampshire (WNH4K) 4K hikes.
1/12/14: I finally got around to down loading pictures for this hike. No trip report or captions yet. Its been so long now, i doubt that i can rember enough to report.

 Bread Loaf and Wilson    11/15/2014  (two peaks on my New England Hundred Highest List)


 Mouse trapeze at the hut. Most huts in VT and on the AT have these to hang your pack. supposedley the mice cant get past the can to get at your pack.

 Sign-in log near the trail-head so I guess I finished about 18:30

Monday, October 13, 2014

Maine Six-Pack Plus One Hikes

CLICK HERE TO GO TO my Winter New Hampshire 4K Hikes.

Maine SIX-PACK PLUS Hikes Oct 2014:          

Recently I spent four days in Maine attempting to finish as many of my remaining 8 New England Hundred Highest (NEHH) peaks as weather and my legs would permit. I drove up from Rhode Island Tuesday night Sept. 30th and returned Saturday Oct. 4th after completing 7 of the 8. I probably still had the time and legs to finish off my last peak, Baldpate, but I was pretty drenched after completing Elephant on Saturday morning in the morning drizzle and bushwhacking through dense wet spruce trees. So, I called it quits and left Baldpate for another trip. This trip leaves me with 11 peaks from the NEHH list (1 in Maine, 3 in NH, and 7 in VT.) None of these hikes were particularly long or physically challenging (even for me), mostly because of the dirt roads maintained by the logging industry that gets you up to a high starting elevation and the network of new and older logging roads and skid trails and ATV trails on the mountains. The most difficult part is sometimes finding the “trailheads”. None of them have maintained trails, per-se, and a few involve fairly tough, but short, bushwhacks. I still maintain that Scar Ridge (NH) and Menden (VT) are tougher bushwhacks then any of the Maine NEHH Peaks – at least the way I did them. I have yet to do Voss Spur (NH) which some say is the toughest. The Maine peak I left behind, Baldpate, does actually have a trail and is in fact along the Appalachian Trail. Note that although the dirt roads get you closer to the peaks, some are pretty tough on your vehicle. I had bolts on several exhaust joints and on my cab loosen up. High clearance and 4-wheel drive is highly recommended. The first six of these peaks are all in the same general area and are often called the Six-Pack. Elephant is much further south than the rest (as is Baldpate) but is often done with the six-pack. My report(s) of these hikes is in no-way intended as a guide line for doing these hikes (possibly a guide as to how not to do them). I mostly relied on reports from two previous similar trips:

Tim’s 2012 trip on View From The Top (VFTT) which includes a map of all seven peaks. and

 Mat’s more recent July 2014 trip report from Hike-NH.Com

My trip reports and pictures for each day can be found at the links below:
To date, I have dumped all my pictures to these pages and added captions to the first few days but will still add captions to the last two and provide more trip details later.

  • Wednesday 10/1/14:  Failed attempt of Boundary Peak and #1 Mt Snow (Chain of Ponds).

  • Thursday 10/2/14: #2 & #3 North Kennebago Divide & White Cap , and #4 Mt. Snow (Cupsuptic/Little Kennebago).

  • Friday 10/3/14: #5. Boundary Peak (from the US Canadian side) and #6. East Kennebago.

  • Saturday 10/4/14: #7 Elephant Mountain.

  • Most of the above reports are just dumps of the pictures I took for now.  The highlights of the trip might be the boundary swath pictures from Boundary Peak and the moving ground video and moose skeleton pictures in the Elephant Mt. report.