Saturday, July 7, 2012

#59 Mt. Redington Maine, July 4, 2012

#59 Mt. Redington (4,010') Maine via Caribou Valley Road, Logging Roads and Herd Paths, July 4, 2012 (Updated June 21, 2015 and June 25, 2016)

Mileage: 11.5 miles RT

Elevation gain: 1,703'

Time: 5 hours

Trailhead: Trail starts at the end of Caribou Valley Road (CVR), which is off Route 27 in Stratton, Maine just past (or before depending on your direction) the Sugarloaf Ski Area access road (on the same side). Road is not well marked, but is shown on a car GPS as "Caribou Pond Road."

Redington is one of two trailless peaks on the New England Four Thousand Footer List (the other being Owlshead). The mountain never wanted to be a four thousand footer. For years it was measured at 3,984' (this number is still on the summit canister).  At one time a wind farm was proposed for the peak but yielded to push back by the community.  As technology improved, it was determined that the summit elevation was actually 4,010' and that's when Redington started having company.  Many summit Redington by bushwhacking across the col from the Crockers.  I chose to take the logging roads and herd paths to the summit.  
Since last year's visit to Stratton I'd been both excited and stressed about bagging Mt. Redington; excited because it looked like a labyrinth of roads on which to navigate, stressed because of the condition of the CVR. Last year's hike was a traverse of the Crockers from the CVR Appalachian Trail crossing to Route 27.  We'd driven partway down the CVR the day before that hike and the bridges and culverts were almost non-existent they'd deteriorated so - not good for our vehicle.  
In my mind time was running out for the CVR and Redington would soon (again) become a hard-to-reach peak.  We had to do it this year. 
I researched extensively, printing out trip reports and grabbing gps tracks.  I got a great deal of narrative from Andrew Lavigne's website and had a good list of coordinates -  except instead of taking the "rightmost of the three branches on the third fork," as indicated, we took the middle, which was clearly the better path (more on this later).

The weather was unsettled at best; we woke up to rainy skies.  Our mood brightened as we turned on to the CVR as it had been repaired and we were easily able to get our car to the parking area at 3.9 miles.  (2016 update: the road has deteriorated somewhat since the 2012 repairs but we were able to get all cars to the metal bridge. There is just one rough bridge with sixpack size holes in the planks but the underpinnings are sturdy enough.  I had someone get out and guide me around those holes.)

Culverts and bridges have been repaired on the CVR. It is still slow going though.

At the parking lot there are two barriers and a sign indicating on-road vehicles are not allowed beyond that point.  The metal bridge behind the barriers is in poor shape. (2015 update: the barriers have been replaced by a gate that's chained).  We got out and put on our rain coats and pack covers. 

Just beyond the barriers is a damaged metal bridge.
At 3.9 miles (the parking area), we walked over the metal bridge and started down the road. The rain was steady.

At 4.4 miles we passed the AT crossing, where we started our Crockers hike last year. Right went up the Crockers; left crossed South Branch Carrabassett River and headed up to Sugarloaf and Spaulding Mountains. We continued straight.  By this time, the rain had drenched our shoes and faces. 

At 5.5 miles we reached the much reported fork in the road. There is a fire ring on the side. Go left of the fork.

At the 5.5 mile fork. Fire ring is on the side, just off the road.  Take the left of the fork.
Mile markers on the CVR.

At about 7 miles the road ends - go right. A dilapidated bridge lies to the left and there is a sign in the woods ahead with an arrow pointing right.  Given the amount and type of signs here, it looks like improvements were made to the CVR and this area to accommodate ATVs and snowmobiles - a benefit for hikers too.

Bad bridge off to the left. Don't go here.

Walk this logging road for about .8 miles. The rain had stopped; we were soaked through but determined to get to that summit canister.
Walk this road for about .8 miles (2015: those signs are gone).

We saw two moose on this road, a mother and her baby.  We took photos and waited for them to move on. Many wildflowers were in bloom and we hopped over a few crushed culverts and one large puddle. This road had not been used for logging in quite some time.  

Take a right at the cairn and walk about .6 miles.  The first road continues straight but a cairn lets you know of the turn.  There are remnants of a large arrow made of sticks on the ground near the cairn. This second road is grassy in spots, with ruts and gravel. Stately conifers make for a very serene scene.  This logging road ascends toward a third road, this time on the left, well marked with ribbon and cairns.

Take a left onto this grassy road and walk about .3 miles.   The second road continues straight but your route to Redington is left on this smaller, grassier road.


Take this left. Road levels out and even descends a bit.

The road dips and swings to the left.  Cross over the brook at the low point and head back up to where you see three paths.
Take the center of the three paths.  The report suggests the rightmost of the paths.  However, the GPS track we had showed the middle to be the easiest way to our destination.

With two arrows and a cairn this must be the way to go!

Sometimes called "working trails" these paths were cut as part of the wind farm project. 

The path you take is wide (as you can see in the photo) but narrow enough to brush by the trees as we advanced, soaking us further.  The good news was we were already soaked so it didn't matter; we thought it was funny!

We eventually we came to a very small wooded clearing where we turned right. This was not on anyone's instructions or on any GPS track but it's clear you bear right up a narrower path.

The orange ribbon marks this narrow herd path.

This second path is narrower (and wetter) than the last and soon we were winding our way up through old forest.  It got steeper and we skirted around one very old blow down. Looking up at the trees we kept thinking we had to be close; we were skirting the side of the mountain at a deceiving angle. 

We knew we were at the summit when we saw a guide wire anchor in the ground off in the woods to the left.  As we rounded the corner we were greeted by a cairn. It isn't a pretty summit and it was cold and foggy so I immediately started hunting for the canister. 

The canister is partially hidden in the woods.  At the summit clearing look for a second guide wire anchor in the ground (right on the top) and turn right at it. There's a little path and the canister is on the back side of a tree in the woods there. Several have indicated they could not find it (understandably). 

Rich opening the canister.

We registered (signed our names on the back of someone's directions), closed the canister, snapped a few photos and quickly headed down (somehow lunch on the summit didn't have its usual appeal).  

Just a little wet! (The camera was wet too.)

Carefully retracing our steps, we were down to the logging roads in no time. Note there is a sharp right turn a few minutes into the descend - can be confusing as the path seems to also go straight (don't).  The sky cleared and we were treated to fine views. We stopped for lunch and to admire the wildflowers.

A bit of Redington peaking through the clouds in the background.
 We headed down the CVR and changed into dry clothes back at the car. 

Trip reports I've read since this hike also mention wet conditions.  Redington is for the most part viewless and sheltered - a hike you do when bad weather keeps you off the steeper, rockier, exposed peaks (a "back pocket" hike, a good "plan B").  I can't help but feel this would be a lovely walk in the woods in better weather - though with the CVR walk the total distance is high: 11 miles.