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Hopping on the Maine bandwagon, Oct 1 - Oct 5

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  • Hopping on the Maine bandwagon, Oct 1 - Oct 5

    After finishing the NH48 last September, it had been over a year since I made any progress on the NE115. GracePoints and I decided to finally make the trip to Maine and see how we liked it.

    Oct 1 – Old Speck
    After a stop in Vermont and a stop in New Hampshire to pick up last minute supplies, we arrived in Grafton Notch State Park just before 1PM. The trailhead parking lot was almost full, which I wasn’t expecting, although it was a Saturday. Old Speck was the only Maine peak that I had hiked previously. We ascended via the Eyebrow, enjoying the views that trail has to offer. We had descent views from the summit, despite the cloudy grey skies. We descended all the way via the AT, and drove to Stratton, ME to for our base for the rest of our hikes.

    Oct 2 – The Bigelows
    We didn’t have a pre-determined plan of which hikes to do which days. We were waiting to see the latest weather forecasts and Sunday’s forecast called for rain in the afternoon. We chose the Bigelows since we could get finished early and avoid any rain. We went up the fire warden’s trail and climbed Avery Peak first. The cloud line was just below 4,000 feet, so we had no views from the peak, but you could see a little on up and down. On West Peak, we could see a little of Flagstaff Lake and into the valley to the west. We descended the fire warden’s trail since views would be minimal if we went down the ridge to the Horns.

    Oct 3 – Sugarloaf, Spaulding, Abraham
    This would be the biggest day, and although we expected to be in the clouds again, it wasn’t supposed to rain. We parked at the gate on Caribou Valley Rd, and followed the AT to the Sugarloaf spur. We climbed Sugarloaf first, where we had no views. We sat on the summit for a while waiting to see if we would get a break in the clouds, and eventually we did. We had nice views to the south and west, but the clouds didn’t open up over the Bigelows. We continued down the ridge to Spaulding, and then on to Abraham. We enjoyed the open rock on the climb to Abe, and had some views from the summit. After about 10 minutes at the summit it started to sprinkle, so we headed back to tree line. At the junction with the AT, we looked at the map and decided that the bushwhack to Caribou Valley Rd was more appealing than the re-climb of Spaulding and the steep descent off of the side of Sugarloaf. The bushwhack was a breeze and we were on Caribou Valley Rd pretty quickly. Just after getting onto the road, a large bull moose stepped out of the trees about 100 feet in front of us. Fortunately, he ran off as soon as he saw us, but it was still great to see. The road was more overgrown in places than we expected, but there was always a herd path when the road “disappeared”.

    Oct 4 – The Crockers and Redington
    On Tuesday we were back on Caribou Valley Rd for a leisurely start of one of the shorter hikes. We were back on the AT once again, and made the short climb to South Crocker at a good pace. We decided to go to Redington first and followed the herd path. The herd path is quite easy to follow, since it has plenty of flagging, and has been maintained with fresh cutting in spots where the spruce get tight. At the summit, we ate lunch and looked through the canister, where we found some familiar names. We returned to South Crocker and followed the AT to Crocker. We stopped again for a break and talked with some AT thru hikers. We saw thru hikers every day, but we passed the most on this day, seeing 10 or 12. We made the return hike on the AT back to Caribou Valley Rd.

    Oct 5 – Saddleback and The Horn
    We saved the shortest hike for our last day of hiking. We started from Saddleback ski area and within 10 minutes spotted a cow moose on the first ski run that we crossed. We stopped for pictures while the moose wandered across the hill an up the trail in front of us. After a short time she moved on to another ski run and we could continue on the trail. The hike up the ski area was steep, but we hit the summit pretty quickly (except for our moose delay). At the summit we enjoyed the views, as clouds covered the lakes, and talked with a section hiker who had a 46er patch on his jacket. We enjoyed the mostly open ridge hike to The Horn, and celebrated our last peak of the trip. We then made our way back to Saddleback and down the ski runs.

    We spent the next couple of days relaxing in Portland, and then drove through the Whites, northern Vermont, and into the Adriondacks. We ended our week away with a climb of Mt Jo. Perhaps it was timing, but Maine had the best colors of the areas that we passed through.

    We liked the Maine peaks a lot, specifically the ruggedness, remoteness, and solitude. It’s a long drive for us to get there, but we’ll definitely go back again. I now have just three peaks remaining for the 115, which are the three Baxter peaks, but those will have to wait one more year.
    ADKHP Wiki

  • #2
    Sounds like a great visit. There are some nice peaks here. You're gonna love the Baxter peaks. If I had known you were coming I would have arranged for better weather. ☔️

    Comment


    • Kyler
      Kyler commented
      Editing a comment
      I'll give you some notice before our next trip, so you can turn on the sunshine!!! ☀️

  • #3
    Saddleback is truly a gem, miles of alpine terrain. Full disclosure: I worked on that section of the AT as a caretaker at Piazza Rock.
    46er #9404
    Pics: https://www.flickr.com/photos/145945713@N02/
    http://www.athikerpictures.org/syste...jpg
    https://smokebeard.wordpress.com/

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    • Kyler
      Kyler commented
      Editing a comment
      It looks like a great place to ski too. I wouldn't mind the views of the lakes and peaks to the northwest all day.

  • #4
    Sounds like an excellent trip despite the weather. What is this solitude you speak of? Having not been east of the Adirondacks I fail to comprehend such a term 😀
    I hear Khatadin via the knifes edge in early summer is a nice way to cap off the 115.
    "Climbing is about freedom. There's no prize money; there are no gold medals. The mountains are all about going there to do what you want to do. That's why I'll never tell anyone else how to climb. All I can say is, This is how I prefer to do it."
    Ed Viesturs

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    • #5
      Originally posted by ADKJack View Post
      I hear Khatadin via the knifes edge in early summer is a nice way to cap off the 115.
      It sure sounds like it!
      ADKHP Wiki

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      • #6
        Originally posted by Kyler View Post
        It sure sounds like it!
        Best is a loop from the Roaring Brook side, up the Cathedral Trail & down by the Knife Edge & Helon Taylor Trail. You end up going all around the main cirque, and both trails are great.

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        • #7
          Originally posted by rickhart View Post

          Best is a loop from the Roaring Brook side, up the Cathedral Trail & down by the Knife Edge & Helon Taylor Trail. You end up going all around the main cirque, and both trails are great.
          Clockwise direction up Helon Taylor might make more sense if you want to include Hamlin. We also preferred Knife Edge that way.

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          • #8
            Originally posted by Daniel Eagan View Post

            Clockwise direction up Helon Taylor might make more sense if you want to include Hamlin. We also preferred Knife Edge that way.
            Yeah, it's really nice either way. With Cathedral I'd recommend up as nicer than down, that's why I said that direction. If Hamlin is included & last, Center Ridge is nice too. In fact they're all nice, pretty much!

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