3 Days - 8 Peaks - 38 Miles
We had an ambitous plan for the Labor Day Holiday - 3 day of hiking - summiting 8 peaks - covering 38 miles - all as day hikes. We choose one of the nicest sections of the Appalachain Trail in Maine, Route 4 to Route 27. The weather cooperated and we completed the three days feeling tired but with a feeling of accomplishment. This trip brought us to 79 of the peaks on the New England Hundrest Highest list. With any luck we hope to be at 85 - 90 by the end of the year with a goal of finishing on Mt Katahdin on our anniversary in August, 2005.
Saturday Sep 4, 2004
South & North Crocker - Redington
Day 1 took us to South Crocker, North Crocker, and Redington.
Directions to the trailhead:From Farmington take route 27 towards Sugarloaf. One mile past the entrance to Sugarloaf at the top of a long hill, Caribou Pond Rd is on your left. This is the first left after Sugarloaf. Follow the dirt logging rd 4.5 miles and park where the AT crosses the road. At 3.8 miles on the logging road you will come to a metal bridge after which the road become much rougher. At 4.0 miles you will come to another bridge that has a steep dropoff on the far side - cars with low clearance will want to be carefull and stay to the left.
This is the profile of the hike from our GPS and includes the trip up to South Crocker, over to North Crocker and back, and up to Redington.
The metal bridge 3.8 miles from Rte 27.
The logging road becomes much rougher after the metal bridge, however with care must cars will not have a problem avoiding the rocks and pot holes.
This is the bridge at 4.0 miles where cars with low clearance need to be carefull - notice how people have tried to build up the dips with logs.
We started by heading north on the Appalachain Trail towards South Crocker. The trails starts out at a steady climb but not too steep. About 1 mile into the hike you pass a side trail that leads to the Crocker Cirque Campsite.
After passing the side trail the trail becomes steeper until you pass the 2nd rock field, after which it becomes pretty gradual. Here is Geri at the first rock field.
A view from the rock field to a small clearing and water hole.
Shortly after passing the rock fields we came across the remains of a moose. Not much left.
The trails leads to a junction where the left fork takes you 50 yards to the summit of South Crocker. The main trail follows the Appalachain Trail desending onto the col where it then climbs steadily to the summit of North Crocker, @ 1 mile from the summit of South Crocker. As we climbed to North Crocker we looked back at a good view of Mt Redington where we would be going next.
South Crocker on the left, and Redington on the right.
Geri approaching the summit of North Crocker.
Us at the summit. We had started the day with dark clouds but by this time they had moved out being replaced with high fluffy clouds and lots of blue sky.
We met up with Kathy and Brian on the summit of South Crocker. As they had the same agenda we hiked the rest of the day together. Hi guys!
A view of Sugarloaf where we are headed on day two of this three day weekend.
To the left is Spaulding Mountain - on the left is Mt Abraham, both of which are also on our agenda for day 2.
Here we are back at South Crocker. We retraced our steps back to here where we enjoyed a lunch under sunny skies. The trail (herd path) to Redington leaves from this rocky summit and is very easy to find.
The herd path is easy to follow with only a couple of blowdowns and areas where you need push aside the spruce trees.
After passing through a section of spruce we found ourselves in a an area of tall fir trees as we descended into the col.
A good view of our destination - Mt Redington.
This should give you an idea of how easy the path is too follow. It is very clear and seems to be fairly well traveled - at least it was much easier that we had been led to believe based on past postings on VFTT and the AMC Forums.
Thirty minutes after starting out on the herd path we came across a large clear cut clearing. This is the only bushwack part of the trip from Sotuh Crocker to Redington. Go straight or diagonly to the left across the clearing. On the other side of the clearing, @ 150 yards is a logging road.
Here on the logging road after crossing the clearing we double check our directions just to be sure. Follow the road 200 yards to the height of land where there is an easy to find herd path leaving to the right. The path heads up towards the peak of Redington, joining the main trial to the summit.
The canister at the summit with the test wind tower in the background. There have been many hikers here this year, and even two earlier today!
The tower was put up to measure the wind by a company that would like to build a farm of wind mills on the ridge. It is solar powered and kept in place by the many guy wires. The base of the tower sits on some logs for leveling, but is not anchored.
The upper half of the tower which is @ 200 feet tall. If they build the wind mill farm, they will be 400 feet from the top of the blade to the ground!
A view of South Crocker to the right - North Crocker to the left and the Bigelow range between them in the background.
For our return trip we followed the main trail down to the logging roads and followed those back to our cars. This made for a nice loop and easy, but long return. It took us @ 2 hours to go the 5 miles back. Another great day of hiking - 10 miles, 3 peaks with temps in the 60's. We would highly recommend the herd path as the best route to Redington, and bringing sneakers for the walking out the logging road.
Sunday Sep 5, 2004
Abraham, Spaulding & Sugarloaf
Day 2 took us to Abraham, Spaulding, and Sugarloaf.
Directions to the trailhead:Same as day 1 above.
This is the profile of the hike from our GPS up to Abraham. Not included is the spur trails to Spaulding and Sugarloaf.
We started by heading south on the Appalachain Trail, which looked tame more like path to a sandy beach.
The trail soon heads down to the South Branch of the Carrabassett river.
Here we found a thick, foot wide plank to make the crossing easier. Geri demonstrates how to cross - after letting a couple who are doing the Appalachain Trail North to South show her how - she realized she has a little height problem first thing in the morning. Oh did we mention the female of the couple (Ann we later found out) was just back on the trail after recovering from a stress fracture and had a knee brace on.
About 30 minutes into the hike the trail goes steeply uphill over large rocks. This rocky section lasted 20 minutes and was hard on the way up, and a little scarey on the descent.
Although the summits were clear when we started, they had clouded by the time we reached the spur trail to Sugarloaf, so we decieded to head directly to Abraham first. On the way towards Spaulding we passed this dedication to the completion of the Appalachain Trail.
We also passed the spur trail for Spaulding. On the side trail to Abraham we came across a large Bull Moose coming down the trail at us. He stopped about 50 feet from us, but before we could get the camera out, he decided he was camera shy. Here we get our first look at the summit of Abraham.
A view looking back as we cross the first rock field on the approach to the summit.
The clouds start to lift exsposing the summit.
On the summit we shared a wind break with a hiker from Southern NH, who lives a few towns away from us. We met several others from nearby towns throughout the day - small world!
The tower on the summit of Mt Abraham.
Geri explores a small shelter just below the summit.
A little dark, but out of the wind and signs that somebody is planning on staying there tonight.
One last look at the tower before we start our descent and head over to Spaulding and Sugraloaf.
This is a view of the trail just before you head above treeline at Abraham.
A View of Spaulding as we descend Abraham. We are now 7 miles into our hike and not quite half way done.
Soon we reach the turn back onto the Appalachain Trail and start heading north. But not before chatting with a gentleman from Montreal that we had seen the day before. We enjoyed talking to him and hope he finishes his New England 4000 footers soon!
From the intersection of the Appalachain Trail and the trail to Abraham it took us @ 1 hour to get back to the spur trail to Spaulding , which is only 167 yards long. Spaulding is mostly wooded, but has a couple of lookouts you can get a view from - on a clear day. Here is Geri at the summit of Spaulding.
Down from the summit at the sign for the spur trail to Spaulding.
Here is a view of the trial that leads up to the summit of Spaulding.
Back on the Appalachain Trail we make our way towards the spur trail to the summit of Sugarbush.
A section of the trail just south of the Sugarloaf spur trail. This section of the Appalachain Trail is very well maintained.
An hour after leaving Spaulding we hit the spur trail to Sugarloaf - one peak left to do for the day - we have now been on the trail for almost 8 hours.
Knowing this is a steep section Geri decided it was time for dry socks.
Twenty minutes later we reach the summit. It is in the 40's, we are in the clouds, and it's windy - but very happy to have reached our third peak for the day.
The top of the chair lift.
After leaving the summit of Sugarloaf we headed back down to the car. Here is one last view of the ridge from Sugarloaf to Spaulding.
We returned to the car almost 10 hours after we left. We covered 14.4 miles, summited 3 peaks, and met many other hikers, a large portion of whom are either starting or ending their trip on the Appalachain Trail. Good luck to all!
Monday Sep 6, 2004
Saddleback & The Horn
Day 3 - we saved the best for last - took us to Saddleback and The Horn. This is the map for part 1 of the hike.
Directions to the trailhead:From the intersection of Rte 2 & 4 in North Farmington, follow Rte 4 norht for 32 miles. Parking is on the left where the Appalachian Trail crosses Rte 4 at the top of a steep winding section of the road.
This is the profile of the hike from our GPS up to The Horn.
The parking lot is marked with a large Appalachain Trail sign.
Crossing the street we enter the woods and start northbound on the Appalachain Trail. We stoped briefly at the Piazza Rock Tentsite where we used the facilities. There were mseveral tents present and a large group of through hikers in the lean-to.
Our first stop for picture taking was here at Ethel Pond about 2 miles from the start.
Just above this area we came across a couple of crews working on the trail - amazing to see the work it takes to put stones in place to make those nice stairs we all enjoy.
After leaving the pond the trail climbs gently through an area of old blowdowns and moss covered rocks.
After passing though a boggy area we arrived at Mud Pond.
We traversed the edge of the pond on logs to keep us out of the mud, which there is a lot of.
Next we arrived at Eddy Pond which is very large!
At the far end of the pond we found a well used campsite with easy access to the pond. Here we took a break for some pictures and a snack.
We found a tree with a couple of branches that held the camera just right for this timer shot.
From here the trail started to head upwards. We came across two sets of ladders.
About 4 miles from the start we reached the start of the ledges. That is Eddy Pond below.
From here to the summit of Saddleback and then over to the summit of The Horn we were above treeline - about 2 1/2 miles each way.
You do not see the actual summit for some time. Geri continues on towards blue skies.
A view looking back from where we have come as the clouds roll in.
This red fox decided running for cover was better than sharing the summit with us. He was a good size and looked very healthy.
Almost near the top we found this small body of water (spring?).
Geri at the summit with the trail towards The Horn behind her. So far we had not seen a single hiker on the trail all day. Amazing that on such a nice day we were enjoying the summit of Saddleback all by oursleves.
We sat by the wind break to enjoy a sandwich.
In the background is our next destination - The Horn.
The trail to the Horn - 1.7 miles to go.
We finally see the first hikers of the day - and who should it turn out to be but the couple that showed Geri yesterday how to cross the river!
Looking to the East towards Sugarloaf the peaks we hiked yesterday.
From The Horn looking at Saddleback.
We still had several hours of hiking to return to the car, so we headed out - a view of Saddleback from the descent of The Horn.
On the way back to Saddleback we finally start encountering other hikers - in droves and they were almost all AT through hikers on their way to Katahdin. By the time we reach our car we had seen 40 hikers - 23 males, 17 females, and all but 5 were through hikers, as well as a group of 10 college students. We stopped and talked to many answering questions on the difficulty of the peaks, places for water, campsites, etc.. Back on the ledges we stopped to change socks and have yet another snack.
We enjoyed nice views of Rangely and many other ponds. Unfortuantly it was hazey so we could not see Mt Washington or Katahdin.
On our return trip we stopped at the "Caves" - a grouping of large boulders forming caves and passages that you can walk through and under.
Several of the rocks are suspended or wedged on top of others.
Just below the "Caves" is Piazza Rock, a large hanging outcrop.
Geri was brave and walked out to the tip so I could take this shot.
And look who we ended the hike with! We wish this couple all the best as they head south on the AT. Perhaps we will see them in two weeks when they expect o be in the White Mountains.
They had already found a ride into Rangely to pick up supplys, but noticing 5 other hikers (in background) who had just crossed the road, we decided to be Trail Angels giving them a ride into Rangely. Talking to them was a great way to end the day and the weekend. We plan to go back to this area again next Summer, so if anyone is looking for company, let us know.
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