From a short trip into Katahdin Woods & Waters National Monument on the day of the Interior Secretary's visit. Here are a few of us on Barnard Mountain, with a gorgeous view over Katahdin Lake to Mt Katahdin. This is on the International Appalachian Trail, and we met a through-hiker headed southbound all the way to Florida. It sounds like I may have to try out some more hiking on the IAT one of these days.
A short overnight in the White Mountains with a handful of good friends, including one who hadn't been backpacking ever, and one who hadn't been backpacking in the White Mountains. One of my favorite overnight trips in the White Mountains is going up the Nancy Pond Trail, then up the Desolation Trail on Mt Carrigain. This picture is from Signal Ridge on the way down Carrigain. There's a lot of good stuff to see on this hike, including two alpine ponds, a big waterfall, a 4000-footer with wonderful views, and an open ridge with more views. Can't go wrong there.
Mt Chocorua, via the Champney Falls Trail
Not-A-Chance is in Massachusetts for the summer, so I whisked her away to the mountains over the weekend. It's been a wet and cold season this year, quite the opposite of last year, so conditions were dicey. The trail was fairly wet, but nothing bad. It turned out to be great hiking. Champney Falls was gushing, the clouds were high enough to show off the colors of the mountains in the distance, and the rain held off or passed us by pretty quickly whenever it showed up.
With dreary weather like this, hiking plans have to be pretty flexible. Instead of camping for the night, we stayed at The Notch Hostel, arriving just before a torrential downpour. Good stuff. Despite the dampness over the weekend, it was a great time to be in the mountains.
Berry Pickers Trail, Saddleback Mountain, ME
I had the opportunity to help with some light trail maintenance on a brand-new side trail to the Appalachian Trail on Saddleback Mountain. The access to the trail is pretty tricky, with 3 miles of driving on logging roads with no signage, but once you're on the trail it's awfully pretty. I didn't have any views because we were stuck in the clouds the whole time, but there's a lot of open ridgeline on the way up to the trail.
Another bonus of the new trail is that it reaches the AT right between Saddleback and The Horn, so you can make a good day-hike of it, or head further along to Redington Stream campsite for an overnight.
Here are the driving directions that I'll include in the AT Hiker app when I add this trail in there: To reach the trailhead, drive about 15 miles east from Rangeley on Route 4. Then, turn left on Reed’s Mill Road and continue about 3 miles. Just after crossing Conant Stream on a bridge, turn left on a gravel road across from a white house. The gravel road is passable by cars, but can be in very rough shape. Keep left at junctions on this road, and continue about 3.2 miles to the trailhead.
Two days of clearing blowdowns, brush, and other minor debris from the trail over Mt Abraham in Maine.
There was quite a bit of snow still on the trail between Mt Abe and the Appalachian Trail, but not nearly as much on the Fire Warden's Trail side (a stretch of rotten spring snow below tree line on that side, but it passes quickly). We cleared a handful of blowdowns, and opened up lots of overgrown spots on the trail.
Even met the first AT Northbounder of the year at Spaulding Lean-to. He's on schedule to finish the Trail by the end of May. Whoah...
Speckled Mountain via Evergreen Valley and Cold Brook Trail
The black flies are out in force, and a few ticks, too. But this south-facing, low-elevation trail to Speckled Mountain was totally snow-free and in fine condition. The heat wave (80°F) made this hike, my first in almost two months, much harder than it should have been, but not seeing a soul all day on a beautiful ridge walk along Speckled Mountain a real treat.
Mount Washington was visible to the west from most viewpoints on the hike, and it looks like it's completely snow-capped still. What a season it has been!
Hiked the Wapack Trail for Easter weekend, starting in northern Massachusetts on Mount Watatic, and ending in New Hampshire on Pack Monadnock. Here's a picture from a third of the way in, overlooking Binney Pond. Lots of nice views of Monadnock and the rest of Southern New Hampshire on this trail. For springtime when the trails further north are covered in rotten snow, trails like this are great for getting some early backpacking in and training for later season. For once, I remembered to bring lots of sunscreen, since the lack of foliage usually leads to horrible sunburns for me.
The trail was a little muddy in places, but otherwise in very good condition. It also showed me just how out of shape I am right now compared to what I was hoping I would be. Ugh. I'm hoping the 85° heat on Sunday was the real reason for my feeling wrecked at the end of the 20 miles, but I'm not so sure.
Sunday River Whitecap, one of the highlights of the Grafton Loop Trail, is not very easy to get to in winter (even if it was the first week of spring the other day). My hiking buddy, Nancy, and I tried to bushwhack to the peak a few years ago, and did not get very far. This year we tried it again, and made it to just below the summit. Alas, it was so windy and cold that we had to turn around. But no problem-- it was just as beautiful below the summit as up top. We were lucky to find the GLT coming out of Miles Notch at all, since the trail is incredibly difficult to find in the open birch forest. Maybe next year we'll make it all the way to the top.
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