Monday, December 8, 2014

Baldpate Mt.- Failed Attempt

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 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.