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.