Finishing the NE67, An AT Backpack, Part Three, 7.26.10-8.10.14

Part three of the backpack Cameron and I did to finish the NE67 or “Long Distance and Peak Bagging: You Can Do Both”:

Day 11 Tues. Aug. 4 Slack pack from Logging Road north of Orbeton Stream to Rangeley, ME

We had the chance to slack pack 15 miles today, so we took it.  It was a good chance to get some miles and peaks without having to carry the heavy packs.  Today was the day we’d also start peakbagging four thousand footers again, and would be bagging new ones just about every day until the end of the trip.  We were in the truck at 6:00a, and rode out to our destination, a logging road seemingly far from any civilization.  After about a mile of hiking up a gravel road we intersected the AT and we were on our way southward back to Rt. 4.  Eventually, we came to Poplar Ridge Shelter and took a break, while admiring, but thankful we didn’t have to sleep on its baseball bat style floor.  We then started the climb up to Saddleback Jr., then the Horn, which was our first 4K in almost a week.  We finally were above treeline, and it was nice to look out and see the mountains that we’d be climbing in the next few days.  We also enjoyed some lunch, and then it was time to head off to Saddleback.  Saddleback had some great views back down to Rangeley Lake which we enjoyed before the 5 mile trip  back to the road.  Again, we couldn’t get a call out, but luckily Shane, the hostel owner, showed up and we got a ride back.  The slack pack group that finished ahead of us estimated our time of arrival, and they were pretty much right on!   After dinner, we organized our packs and were ready to get back on the trail.

Old style, baseball bat floor in the Poplar Ridge Shelter.   We only stopped in for a snack.

Old style, baseball bat floor in the Poplar Ridge Shelter. We only stopped in for a snack, so we did not have to sleep on this floor.

The Horn, our first four thousand footer in almost a week.  Let the peakbagging begin!

The Horn, our first four thousand footer in almost a week. Let the peakbagging begin!

Next up:  Saddleback!

Next up: Saddleback!

A look back to Saddleback before the long descent to the road.

A look back to Saddleback before the long descent to the road.

Day 12 Wed. Aug. 6 Logging Road north of Orbeton Stream to Spaulding Shelter

Another 6:00a truck ride from the hostel to the trail, to the same place we were dropped off yesterday.   This time we had full packs and would head northward.  We didn’t have a lot of miles on the AT, but we were going to take the side trail to Mt. Abraham, another four thousand footer.  The Mt. Abraham Trail was a nice trail, well blazed and maintained with a relatively easy grade and a few shorter climbs.  We arrived at the first talus area, headed up and then could see where the true summit actually was, further up the ridge.  The trail alternated sections in the trees with sections in the rocks until it was finally all above treeline.  The grade wasn’t too difficult, but we had to watch our footing due to the smaller rocks of the talus slope.  The tower soon appeared, and we were at the summit, enjoying 360 degree views, under the clouds.  We also enjoyed quite a few ripe blueberries on and near the summit – seemed not too many people visited Abraham, so there were plenty of blueberries.  We were soon on our way again, and made the trip back to the AT quickly.  Another easy mile and we arrived at the shelter for the night.

On the tower at Mt. Abraham.

On the tower at Mt. Abraham.

 

View to the tower on Mt. Abraham from further down the ridge.

View to the tower on Mt. Abraham from further down the ridge.

Day 13 Thurs. Aug 7 Spaulding Shelter to Crocker Cirque Camp

We didn’t have to get out of camp early because we didn’t have a high mileage day.  We hung around in our sleeping bags until almost everyone else left, then finished packing up and got on the trail.  The weather was cool, with plenty of clouds and didn’t look very promising.  We knew it would rain sometime, but hoped it would hold off for a while.  We hike up Spaulding Mtn., and then took the .1 mile spur trail to the summit.  It was a wooded summit, but there were a few viewpoints near the top.  It was too cloudy to really see anything, so we quickly descended and were on our way to the spur trail to the summit of Sugarloaf.  We got a nice downhill and and easy climb to the junction, then it was up to Sugarloaf.  We got to the top and broke out of the scrub near three large communication towers at the top of the Sugarloaf USA ski area.  The views were pretty good and it was fun to sit in the lee of one of the buildings and watch the clouds blow by.  We then descended quickly, ate some lunch and were back on our way to the Crocker Cirque Camp, where we’d tent for the night.  Before we got there, we had a very steep descent, and we had to cross the Carabasset River on rocks and a board.  The board was definitely a sketchy, yet serviceable bridge even though it sagged under our weight.  Apparently, someone didn’t want it to float away in high water, as it was anchored at one end to the rock with a cable.  The rain finally did come, and we got rained on for the last mile of the day.  The rain was light, so it wasn’t too bad and encouraged us to move along so that we’d get there.  Cameron picked out a nice tent site, close to the pond and beyond where most hikers were camping.   After a getting set up, and relaxing a bit, we were able to eat dinner and get back to the tent right before a larger rain storm came through.  We reviewed our plans and research for the Crockers and Redington and felt ready for the next day.

Still peakbagging, first up today was Spaulding.

Still peakbagging, first up today was Spaulding.

Next, Sugarloaf!

Next, Sugarloaf!

Cameron with one of the communications towers on Sugarloaf.

Cameron with one of the communications towers on Sugarloaf.

Looking over toward Saddleback and The Horn, while watching the clouds roll by from Sugarloaf.

Looking over toward Saddleback and The Horn, while watching the clouds roll by from Sugarloaf.

Sktechy bridge!  It definitely sagged under our weight as we each crossed it.

Sketchy bridge! That poor single plank definitely sagged under our weight as we each crossed it. Glad it was there though, and that the water was low enough to rock hop for the most part.

Day 14 Fri.  Aug. 8 Crocker Cirque Camp to Stratton, ME

We actually had a pretty good night in the tent even though it rained for a while.  I got up early and checked out the pond, then we packed up and started to hike.  Our first objective was South Crocker, our biggest climb of the day.  Slow and steady, we headed up, crossing a talus slope with a view back down to the pond.  Soon the trail flattened out and we were at the summit.  Now it was time for one of the most uncertain parts of the entire backpack:  the bushwhack over to Redington.  We’d done plenty of research, so we knew what to look for and what to expect.  We found the herd path leading over to Redington, and sure enough, it was easily followed over to Redington (just as explained to us by another hiker very early in the trip!).  The top portion leaving South Crocker was the brushiest, but the path soon got better and was pretty easy to follow. We checked the GPS track occasionally, for reference and soon we were on the summit.   We took a look around and it wasn’t long before we found the canister and signed our names to the relatively brand-new register.  We then retraced our steps to South Crocker and continued over to N. Crocker.  From there it was a long five mile descent to the road.  We found some trail magic, and then waited for our shuttle into Stratton for a night off the trail, laundry, showers and dinner.

Crocker Cirque early in the morning.  It is hard to tell, but there is a marshy pond in there.  Our campsite was less than a minute away.

Crocker Cirque early in the morning. It is hard to tell, but there is a marshy pond in there. Our campsite was less than a minute away.

The same little marshy pond from higher up on the trail in a rocky, talus area.

The same little marshy pond from higher up on the trail in a rocky, talus area.

The canister on Redington!

The canister on Redington!

Cameron signing the register from the canister on Redington.

Cameron signing the register from the canister on Redington.

On the summit area of Redington.

On the summit area of Redington.

About half way back to South Crocker via the herdpath, with North and South Crocker both visible behind Cameron.

About half way back to South Crocker via the herdpath, with North and South Crocker both visible behind Cameron.

On South Crocker, with Sugarloaf in the background.

On South Crocker, with Sugarloaf in the background.

Last peak of the day, North Crocker, before descending down to Rt. 27.

Last peak of the day, North Crocker, before descending down to Rt. 27.

Just a few more days on the trail and a few more summits to go.

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