Sunday, July 21, 2013

#65 Mt. Abraham, Maine July 5, 2013

Mt Abraham (4050’) and Lone Mountain (3,280') via Barnjum Road, and Appalachian (AT) and Abraham Side Trails, July 5, 2013.

Mileage:  11 miles (RT)

Elevation gain:  3,000'ish

Trailhead: This hike begins at the rock barriers off Barnjum Road  - actually two sets of boulders with a ditch between (shown below). 

Barnjum Road is located off of East Madrid Road in Phillips, Maine. Take Route 142 south to Phillips, go right on E. Madrid Road and right on Barnjum Road.  Stay on this road. Avoid a logging road that forks left uphill (at about 2.2 miles).  Turn left shortly thereafter (do not turn right onto the road with the blue and yellow ATV sign).  Drive over a sketchy looking bridge at about mile 2.3.   Stay on the main road past the two forks (bear left  at 2.8 and bear right at 3.2).  At mile 4 the road veers to the right. At that curve you will see the rock barriers on the left. Park there, hop over the two rock barriers and head down the old road. 

Note! Much of the area described below may be overgrown since this writing of this trip report.  Logging operations prior to and since 2013 can have a dramatic effect on the terrain and condition of roads. Check current reports for the latest conditions

Roads created by the logging industry provide options for hikers.  Trips that were once long and arduous (and involving a bushwhack) are now more moderate thanks to the many wide swaths cut into the north country.  Several peaks on the lists I'm working on are accessible via logging roads or clear cut areas (Redington, Peak Above the Nubble, the Crockers to name a few).  I recommend purchasing The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer by DeLorme; it will assist you with your logging road adventures.

Hiked with Rich, Norm, Sandy, Joe, Barb and Charlie today.  Charlie's lived in Maine many years, knows the area and has offered to be our guide.  The traditional routes to Mt. Abraham are 1) via the Fire Warden trail, or 2) via the AT (southbound where it crosses the Caribou Valley Road -see my Redington report - or northbound coming up from Saddleback Mountain).  Our route intercepts the AT via an old logging road (Barnjum Road)- a third option.  DeLorme shows it clearly, and Charlie's done it before.

This rock barrier is very obvious - you won't miss it!

We arrived at the rock barriers around 8:30 and started down the logging road.   At about 1.1 miles in we came to a very washed out bridge over Rapid Stream.  The AT crosses just before this bridge, which is a good thing because half of the bridge is missing!  (The road beyond the bridge continues on to Caribou Pond, which is just off of Caribou Valley Road.)

Bridge is washed out - road continues to Caribou Pond.

AT southbound.

AT northbound - we went this-a-way.
Bog bridges over the muddy parts in the beginning.

Found this on a bog bridge. AT thru-hiker humor?

We hopped into the woods on to a damp trail that hugs a very rapidly moving Rapid Stream for about a quarter mile. The trail takes us up moderately at first but steepens and our "second day" legs were feeling it, our heel blisters sore. 

But WAIT!  This will not be a whiny sourpuss repeat performance of the previous day's hike to Mt. Spaulding.  While still a hot day (high 80s), today seemed a bit less humid. We were armed with ample water this time and knew most of our hike would be in the cooler woods under tree cover. Read on.....

Moose droppings were everywhere and we were hoping for a siting. The morning sun shone through still maturing leaves, creating a honey glow. The trail got steeper still until we hit Lone Mountain, a 3,000 footer in the woods. 

Rich took this photo of us on Lone Mountain.

On the Spaulding/Sugarloaf hike the day before Charlie described the trail between the Sugarloaf and Spaulding side trails as flat. This was not so, which prompted a discussion about hiker amnesia.  After yesterday's chiding he was cautious today lest he be called out on it again, and checked the map before talking about this trail. 

It's quite possible I may be suffering from a bit of hiker amnesia right now writing that this trail is delightful, a few ups and downs (small ones) and before we knew it we arrived at the side trail junction!  If you check Appalachian Trail Map #6, you'll note the profile for this stretch of the AT has the bulk of the steepness occurring just prior to Lone Mountain. Perhaps the moose poop and the honey glow put me in a euphoric state - no matter. 

I'm telling you it is a SWEET section of the AT!

At 1.1 mile from Lone Mountain (oh wait, it's on the sign below) we reached the trail junction for Abraham Side trail.  We took a short break (bugs were heavy at the junction) and headed up the side trail.

6.3 miles is why we didn't choose to bag this peak from the CVR.

The Abraham side trail very much resembles the rest of the trail until the woods open up a bit.  A register is located just before the trail breaks out of the trees altogether. 

Barb signing us in at the register.

The trail continues on to a steep section with lovely views (and the start of exposure to weather).  We proceeded up and onto a talus field. 

We'd heard about the talus field and knew we were almost there!

Looking back at the talus field.

Looking up (we're almost at the top right?) we could see the remains of the fire tower that marks the summit quite a ways in the distance.  I saw shoulders droop and heard groans.  We were hot and tired and thought we were much closer.  And the remaining trail to the summit required rock hopping up the cone; (not a fan of rock hopping).

The top is waaaay over that way!  Ouch!

But, like all markers in the distance, it really is much closer than it looks. The summit cone resembles the northern Presidentials in our native New Hampshire - with a difference. These rugged alpine rocks are more accommodating; seemingly placed right side up providing a hospitable path to the summit.   We slowed our pace and eased our way to the summit.

What happened to the tower cabin? Guess it was old and fell down.

The weather was fabulous and bugs at a minimum up top so we had lunch and explored the area. There is a shelter near the fire tower, perhaps to retreat from bad weather.

Inside the shelter.  Is there a body in that trash bag? I wasn't about to find out.

Beyond the summit is a large cairn and leaving nothing to chance (what if that's the actual summit over there?) we headed over there.

Norm chilling at the cairn; was it a structure at one time?

The views from the summit are spectacular.  We took a bunch of photos, packed up and headed back down.

The group picking through the rocks.

Down we went over the rocks, the talus field, back to the junction and back over Lone Mountain.  We enjoyed the wildflowers on the logging road, the last leg of our hike (okay maybe I was the only one who enjoyed the wildflowers; the others had visions of ice cold drinks occupying their thoughts).

Heading back down Barnjum Road to a cold beer.

This is a pleasant route to Mt. Abraham and I enjoyed it so much, I'd hike this route again.  Thanks for leading this hike, Charlie.  Open peaks nestled in spectacular settings are often enjoyed more than once!