Part four of the backpack Cameron and I did to finish the NE67, or “The End of a Few of Journeys”.
Day 15 Sat. Aug. 9 Stratton, ME to Horns Pond Shelter/Avery Peak/Horns Pond Shelter
We took an 8am shuttle out of Stratton back to the trailhead. We knew we were in for a longish climb up to Horns Pond, so we quickly got under way. The first 1.9 miles were pretty easy up to Cranberry Stream Campsite, then the ascending really began. While on our way up, we caught up with another hiker we’d seen off and on for the past couple of weeks, and stopped to chat since we hadn’t seen him for a few days. We then continued up the trail and it wasn’t long before we arrived at Horns Pond. Our plan was to drop off most of our gear at one of the Horns Pond Shelters (there are two, plus quite a few nice tent sites) and only take one light pack with snacks, water and emergency gear over to West Avery and Avery Peaks. We would then come back to the shelter, spend the night and hike back down to Rt. 27 in the morning. This worked out nicely, and it was nice to hike without the full packs. The weather was beautiful, sunny, breezy and the scenery was great, perfect for finishing a list. We ascended South Horn and then were on our way to West Avery. The trail was pretty easy, so we quickly made it over to West Avery. There wasn’t a summit sign, but later we found out from the caretaker at Horns Pond that he was in the process of replacing the summit sign posts, so we just happened to be there before he installed the new one. The views were fantastic and we were excited to have made it to #66. With only .7 of a mile left, it was time to head over to Avery Peak to finish off the New England 4000 footers. The drop into the col and the climb was pretty quick and soon we were at the summit of Avery Peak, #67! We enjoyed the views, took photos and had some snacks before leaving for the hike back to Horns Pond and some well deserved dinner.
Day 16 Sun. Aug. 10 Horns Pond Shelter to Rt. 27
Our last day on the trail didn’t have an super early start because we didn’t need to be down to the road until noon, the pick up time I gave Ethan a few weeks earlier. Ethan said he’d meet us and possibly hike in a bit to find us. He contacted us that morning to make sure of our location and which side of the road we’d end up on. Based on his location and hiking pace, plus the time we left the shelter and our hiking pace, we guessed he’d meet us around the Cranberry Stream Campsite. Sure enough, not 100 feet from the camp site spur, that’s right where we met him! We had a great hike out, getting caught up on each other’s adventures in the past two weeks.
We certainly took the long route to get to Avery Peak, but what a trip! We had a great time, met some interesting people and finished the NE67. Furthermore, through all the rough terrain and sometimes uncooperative weather, we had the extra blessings from God of safety and health – some things we certainly can’t 100% control or take for granted.
What’s next? Who knows? I texted another friend with news of our NE67 finish, who has also finished the NE67, and he said, “Woooo-hooooo! NH100 is next on the list!” If we do the Hundred Highest, I probably won’t undertake a 130 mile backpack to finish it!