Tuesday, June 24, 2014

#91 Snow - Chain of Ponds (ME), June 22, 2014

Snow - Chain of Ponds (3,960') via ATV trails, herd paths, 6/22/14.
Mileage:  7 miles (RT)
Elevation gain:  2,200
Trailhead:  North Road, Eustis (off Route 27 approximately 10 miles north of Cathedral Pines Campground). Take left onto North Road, and then right at the "T" intersection. Cross bridge.  At 2.8 miles bear left and cross bridge. Pass Sports Camp Road on the left, cross bridge and bear right.  Parking lot is at the end of the road (just under 5 miles from the 27/North Road intersection).

Recent reports indicate the approach to this peak has changed.  The parking area and herd path remain the same - it's just getting to the herd path that's different. The property is part of the Penobscot Nation and they've reworked the ATV trails to protect the area's streams.

Sarah's friend, Chris, couldn't hike with us today but managed to summit Snow COP of Friday and left us detailed instructions (doesn't get any better than that!):

Directions (courtesy of Chris Higgins):

From the COP parking lot:
  1. Start at the ATV trail (signs, rock)
  2. Cross 3 ATV bridges
  3. After the 3rd bridge, trail immediately swings right
  4. The trail then curves to the left. Go straight  - over a berm and rocks (a yellow arrow sign and "North Road" sign are at this junction)  
  5. Follow the streambed path up for a short way
  6. ATV path leaves the streambed on the right, take that path 
  7. Enter a four-way intersection (there's a bridge off to the left) 
  8. Go straight at this intersection 
  9. Look for the broken yellow sign (part on ground, part on tree) and herd path on the right.  Follow the herd path. 
  10. Herd path ends at a logging road 
  11. Go left on the logging road,  up gradually and then steeply to the top of a rise. Small cairn on right indicating a herd path. Take that herd path. 
  12. This herd path eventually comes to a T-intersection with a second herd path. Go right, on the herd path to the summit.

Parking lot, enter on the right.

Entrance to ATV trail.

ATV bridge.

After 3rd bridge, road swings to right (and will then swing left).

Berm and rocks (go over these).

Broken sign on ground (part is still tacked onto the tree).

Beginning of the herd path.
Things steepen.

Bat house is the summit canister.


Hiked with Sarah and friends.  Snow COP is to Sarah's 100th peak on the New England Hundred Highest List, and our third (and last) hike on this 3/6 pack Stratton weekend.  Yesterday (6/21) we hiked Cupsuptic Snow in the morning and East Kennebago in the afternoon (see Cupsuptic and E. Kennebago trip reports).

The ATV trails are muddy but we were glad to avoid the pond area (this route takes you away from the pond, which generally is a very wet area).

Chris's directions were great and we had no problem finding the next turn.  Undoubtedly there are other ATV trails that could get you to the cairn and the herd path but given the general wetness of the area we were glad we took this route. (it hadn't rained in a week but still lots of mud).

This hike goes up very gradually and doesn't steepen until just before the herd path. 

The path is riddled with blow downs; we went under, over, around.

There's one short scramble on the way, a rock wall (pictured below).  Going up this rock is no problem, plenty of handholds, though the rock is damp.  But this scramble has a twist.  The rock scramble is 2/3 of the way up the rock, leaving a significant drop just to the left of the scramble.  One slip and down you go (probably 15 feet, scarier than it sounds).  I went up it easily, forcing myself to look away from the drop. 

The trail is on the upper half of this rock.
Fortunately there's a bushwhack around this and on our descent we took it - very steep but lots of trees to hold on to.

Up we continued, stopping at a gorgeous view point.

View point.

The summit is just above this viewpoint, with the broken fire tower (cab in ruins on the ground) and a bunch of old propane tanks.  We gave Sarah a proper salute at the top!

Congratulations Sarah Keats. What a great weekend! 

Easy down and off to Giffords for ice cream.

Monday, June 23, 2014

#90 East Kennebago (ME) June 21, 2014

East Kennebago (3,784') via logging road, boundary swath, herd path 6/21/14.

Mileage:  3.26 (RT)
Elevation gain:  1,254'
Trailhead:  Route 16 north from Rangeley. Go approximately 9.5 miles from Route 16/4 junction and take a left onto a dirt road (caution: road has deep dips from culverts).  Cross a wooden bridge, turn right. Bear right at .9 mile.  Bear left after another ~1 mile.  Turn left again after another ~3 miles. Parking is on the right - at a sharp left turn (about 4.2 miles from Route 16). 
Hiked with Sarah and friends; our second hike in our 3/6 six-pack weekend.
With Cupsuptic Snow done (see report) we wanted lunch before we tackled our afternoon peak, East Kennebago.  We headed to Rangeley (more bumpy dirt roads) and ate at a picnic table next to the lake.
Our friend Bill joined us to hike Cupsuptic Snow, a peak he needed for his New England Hundred Highest list. He'd hiked East Kennebago last year but decided to stick around and hike it again with us.  We hoped he would take the lead and we'd just follow (he did, and we did).
The parking area for East Kennebago is easy to find and has terrific views of the mountains (the only views you'll have on this hike).
We parked here.
Nice view!
From the parking area we headed up a grassy gravel road (walking parallel to the view).  There are some ruts and a few blow downs but eventually the path narrows and becomes grassy. 

Head up this grassy road.

Path becomes grassier, sweeter.
We are looking for a yellow marker, indicating a boundary swath (we would go left off of this path).  Good thing Bill knew what to look for because it was off to the side on the ground.
Bill holding the yellow marker.

Cairns marking the swath entrance -  go left.

After hiking the US/Canada boundary swath the week before, I was expecting a clear, wide corridor in the woods (see Boundary Peak trip report).  Below is what this swath looked like.
I'm telling ya, I'd a blown right by this!
The swath is well marked with slaps of yellow paint (looks like mustard on the trees), easy to follow.
Except that it is up.  All it took was that little lunch break to make my legs sleepy.  Augh, more up.
This yellow/blue blaze, arrow and rock (shown below) announce the herd path to East Kennebago (turn right). This is where we leave the swath and make the final ascent to the summit. 
Some reports indicate the junction is at the "height of land."  I was too busy catching my breath to notice.
Bill stops, smiles and turns to us and says, "Here's where it gets steep!'
The swath continues through the woods but we leave it at this tree.
Our herd path departs from here, turn right and start ascending.
It did get steep with a few confusing spots - but up is up no matter where the path is and we just put one foot higher than the other and got it done.

Where's the little gnome that lives in these woods?
Although only 1.6 miles from the car, we all felt the effort. Looking up didn't indicate being at the top anytime soon; no sky, just more trees.
But soon we did top out and Sarah turned left on the path and found the canister.  We all signed in, grateful for the end of the up. 
Checking out the register entries.

Descending is a little tricky in some of the mossier spots (slippery) but overall it is quick and we were back to the car and thinking about dinner in no time. 
Couldn't get enough of that parking lot view!

This was #99 for Sarah. One more to go. 
For tonight, however, it was burgers and beer at the White Wolf Inn.

#89 Cupsuptic Snow (ME) June 21, 2014

Cupsuptic Snow , Maine (3,784') via logging road, bushwhack, herd path 6/21/14.

Mileage:  3.9 miles (RT)
Elevation gain:  1,200'
Trailhead:  My friend Beth's (Damselfly’s) directions:
From Eustis/Stratton:

"Rt. 27 to Tim Pond Road
17.3 mi. - Kennebago River
17.7 mi. - R onto Wiggle Brook Rd.
18.9 mi. - bear R (Sol Brk. Rd. goes L)
20.5 mi. - Wiggle Brook Rd. turns sharply to the R
21.0 mi. - L turn at the "Triangle T-stop"
24.7 mi. - road goes L; sign on a tree, road marker "22" (we didn't see this sign but the road is obvious); turn left to drive .4 further and park.

Parking on Road #22.

From the car, continue straight on the overgrown logging road. Turn left onto first big road (also overgrown, grassy & ferny) at about .33 mile. (There is a small pile of rocks here on a flat rock; the rocks had fallen and we almost missed it. We built them back up.)

Left at this cairn on a big rock.

Heading up that first left turn.
Still climbing, you'll come to a large opening or field, perhaps the overgrown remains of a log landing area. Go straight across. You'll see a wood arrow and rock pile on the other side, confirming that you should go straight.”

The arrow.

We went straight and continued to ascend the logging road, which curves to the left.  We walked over a stream (culvert), and wound up at a large rectangular lot (like a messy dirt parking lot). 

Here's where the rest of Damselfly's description differed as logging operations had changed the landscape. 

The big rectangle.

Arrow shows far right corner, go here.

The well-established herd path in Damselfly's report is located up a small hill, accessed by entering an old clearing beginning at the far right corner of this rectangular lot. Head to this corner.  (The herd path will veer to the left as you gain elevation, heading up the ridge to the summit.)

Close-up far right corner of the rectangle (walk through this debris).

To meet the herd path, walk over the logging slash/debris for about 50 feet (maybe less) and look to the left for an arrow and cairn.


Head left and then follow up through the ferns and debris/slash toward the trees.

Head up toward the trees!

There will be several cairns up by the trees.

Cairns higher up that little hill lead you to the path.

The herd path is more visible higher up. It's tricky to find it at the bottom as logging operations obliterated the lower portion of it.  But if you head up from this point you should intercept the path.

On the ridge parts of the path may be hidden by large ferns. 

Keeping on the path in the ferns is tricky- area just below the canister.
Continue up the ridge to the summit canister.  Note: on the way back there are two places where the path forks - go right at each fork.


Hiked with Sarah and friends today as part of a weekend peak bagging adventure to do 3/6 pack in Stratton, Maine. 

The six-pack refers to six New England Hundred Highest peaks clustered together just south of the Canadian border: Boundary Peak, Snow Chain of Ponds, Cupsuptic Snow, East Kennebago, North Kennebago Divide and White Cap. 

Sarah was three away from completing her Hundred Highest list (needing just the Snows and E. Kennebago) and invited like-minded friends to traipse around logging roads, through woods and on ATV trails to reach these final peaks.  
Cupsuptic Snow seemed the most labor intensive of the peaks so we put that one first, with plans to summit East Kennebago later in the day.
When you’re this close to completing a list, you leave nothing to chance.  Each of us did some research on Cupsuptic, consulting wise hiker-friends (the Obi-wan Kenobes of the NEHH) and checking the most up-to-date reports.  We had maps of the Cupsuptic Quandrangle, compasses, GPS’s and directions. 
The weather was perfect that day and we piled into the car around 7 a.m., headed out to logging road #22.
Don’t underestimate the time and effort it takes to drive the dirt roads of Franklin County. Some areas are rough and slow-going; you'll be dodging ruts, ditches, middle-of-the-road piles of earth, all-consuming puddles and yes, grouse attacks.  We spent almost as much time in the car as we did on our hikes. 
We used my friend Beth's (Damselfly's) directions -see above.

Logging operations had changed the landscape and we could not longer follow Beth's directions. Left to our own devices we bushwhacked up through old, messy clear cut corridors and finally intercepted the herd path on the ridge.

The corridors we took up were worse than bushwhacking through the woods as logging debris littered the ground, from bristly branches to angled, jutting dead trees.  My GPS showed we were parallel to Beth's route, close to it as we ascended.
Logging mess. I was certain we'd intercept Beth's herd path.

Once on the ridge we went left and easily found the canister.
We signed the register, took photos and headed down via the herd path. 

Some viewage.....

Twice we came across forks in the path and twice we went right  (seemed like the way to go). Further down we saw a few cairns, other's attempts to show the way.

We popped out on the right side of the rectangle clearing in that messy old cut that obliterated the herd path, and quickly set up cairns and arrows to show the way for the next guy (mindful of the time, we had one more hike to do). 
 One hike down, two to go. 




Monday, June 16, 2014

#88 Boundary Peak (ME) and Mt.Gosford, QC, June 14, 2014

Boundary Peak (3,855') and Mt. Gosford, QC (3,871) via Sentiers Frontaliers, CA/US border swath, 6/14/14.

Mileage:  12ish miles (backtrack and loop)

Elevation gain:  2,400' ish
Trailhead:  Hike starts at Mt. Gosford Forest Preserve, 901 rang Tout-de-Joie, Woburn, Qu├ębec, Canada (about one hour's drive from the Pittsburg, NH customs station).
Boundary Peak, ME (Wikipedia): This mountain, which has no formal name, is located on the United States-Canada border between boundary markers 445 and 446. It is the highest point on the border east of the Rocky Mountains.

Hiked with Rich and friends.  We drove up Friday night, checked in at the Haut Bois Dormant B&B and ate dinner at Resto Bar La Patrie (amazing food, reasonable prices - we would return there post-hike). 

We awoke to showers and foggy conditions. It took about 30 minutes to get to the Welcome Center at Mt. Gosford Preserve (there's an entrance fee). The ranger was skeptical when we told him our plans but gave us directions and sold us maps. He also gave us a receipt which must be returned to the Center when we exit the preserve.  I imagine it's so we won't camp in the park without paying the extra fee. 

We planned to hike the Sentiers Frontaliers.  What's that you ask?

Sentiers Frontaliers (easterntownships.org): A 135-km trail network with trails located in the Mt. Megantic and Woburn area in Quebec. The network connects to the Appalachian Trail via the Cohos Trail in the U.S.  For short or long hikes, three-sided shelters, camping platforms, and wilderness shelters (at Mount Gosford only) can accommodate you for the night.  Some sectors are closed during big-game hunting season. 

Welcome Center
Refer to the map at this link to follow our hike. 

Heading toward Chemin Clearwater

We drove on dirt roads, bumpy and rutty with the occasional sketchy bridge - fine for vehicles with medium clearance. A few miles in we took a left onto Chemin Clearwater.  We couldn't go all the way up (parts washed out) so we parked just before a barrier, and walked in (about a mile).   It was raining lightly.

Rain gear and pack covers.

Up Chemin Clearwater.

At the point where trail #7 crosses this road we went right - on to trail #7 -  toward Refuge Clearwater.  (Trail names are so much easier to remember than numbers!)

Refuge Clearwater has a wood stove, bunks and an outhouse.

There's not much information around on trail conditions at Mt. Gosford Preserve.  The well-blazed trails we took are for the most part a walk in the woods, with gradual and not-so gradual inclines.  Today the trails were wet!

Foggy with mostly easy ups.

It rained heavily the day before and I wondered if we'd have a problem with water crossings.

We didn't. Except..........

We encountered two of the largest beaver dams I've ever seen. We couldn't believe our eyes - acres of flooded land! 

Notice the blue trail arrow on the tree  - the middle of the path.

Thousands of tree branches and gobs of mud made these ponds.  Just how well traveled is this trail and how did others get past this obstacle?  The colony of beavers had been very busy over the winter! 

Would we have to turn back?  The water was so deep.  So close, we couldn't turn back.  Our group charged ahead, walking precariously on slippery, angled branches.  I tried that too and slipped, half of me landing in a puddle of mud and muck.  So much for keeping the inside of my boots dry.

The rain eventually stopped and we didn't encounter any more problems with water.  At a few turns we hopped over big puddles to find the direction of trail but that was the extent of our water woes. 

We were excited about "Monolithe 443" - on the border swath (we went left).

We never saw another hiker on this trail, or on the swath (well, it was kinda wet and crappy out).

This area is so remote, like they'd never find my body!  We continued on until we saw an opening in the woods.

When I think of borders I think of people running across and agents with official hats and guns drawn chasing after them.  I was excited to get out to this vast strip of nothing in the middle of nowhere: the swath!

It didn't disappoint.  There it was.  We looked up and down the wide strip of grass and rotting trees. It reminded me of a ski slope in summer; one that needed a little more grooming.  We went right - toward Boundary Peak.

Isn't it creepy - a big bare strip running between Canada and the US.

The Canadian side (right) is peppered with hunting camps. And the US side is, well, just miles of trees (with just one cairn and one canister -our destination).  The boundary runs right down the middle and we took a few silly pictures of us with one foot in each country. 

The group by one of the "monolithes."

Up and down the swath "roller coaster" we went, past many hunting camps, some with motion cameras (all with big square salt licks). 

Square salt lick.  Our innkeeper told us the hunters have turf wars in-season.

Ahead of us  - at the top of a steep gravelly path -  was our destination.
The last push to Boundary Peak.

We were up the hill in no time, crossing the swath (technically illegally) over into the US and blowing past the cairn to the canister. (We'd brought our passports in case the border patrol stopped us but no one came out on ATV's to round us up like the illegals we were.)

The cairn marking the peak (head into the woods here)

This herd path by the cairn takes you to the canister.
Boundary (aka Panther - why, I wonder?).
Canister notes the last entry was February 1.
It was cold, misty and quite windy at the top so we dropped back down the hill for lunch (borrowing someone's hunting camp to get out of the wind).

We continued down (and up and down) the swath, backtracking and hiking past where we came in (trail #7), and headed to Cap Frontiere, an imposing rock face that the trail skirted around (luckily - hey, no one likes hiking on wet rock!).  At the top of Cap Frontiere we took trail #1 toward Mt. Gosford. The weather had improved - from rain and cold to light fog and not-so-cold - and we took off our rain jackets and pants but still weren't sure we wanted to make the trek to the summit of Gosford.  We'd expected the skies to have cleared in the afternoon so we could enjoy some semblance of a view up there but the clouds and mist held fast. 
Trail #1 had serious water damage (see photo below). The entire trail was wiped out and we slowly picked our way through it down to the bottom where the trail splits, with right heading up to the summits and straight ahead ending up at our cars. 

What caused this????
We headed toward the summits but decided to forgo Petit Gosford and took the bypass (left of the fork) straight for Mt. Gosford's summit.   We figured it would be another 700-800' elevation gain. 

We decided the distance posted on the trail signs were a little off.  One of the signs indicated .8 kilometers, it seemed much longer to us.

Summit woods are wet and dreamy.

We apparently were also a little off (that's what people tell me all the time) - with our elevation gain. We hiked up just about 500' before we reached the wide open summit of Mt. Gosford.

Us on the summit tower.

Cool bench and wind shelter at the summit.

No views today - it was totally socked in but we celebrated anyway, took a few photos and layered up to hike down. 

We continued on trail #1 until we reached the other side of trail #7, which brought us around and back to the cabin Refuge Clearwater. 

In no time we were back at the cars, stripping away our wet clothing. We drove back to the Welcome Center and returned our receipt. 

This has got to be one of the most wild and remote hikes I've done, untamed and ungroomed. 

Rickards blonde beer post hike. Draft - at Resto Bar La Patrie.