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.

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