Again this is mostly a 34 pic photo dump, but so pretty I had to share them all. Videos will follow you can be sure!
This spot has always been a favorite, but becomes more popular each year. I try to go very early or very late in the season but even in March there were lots of cars in the lot when I arrived. I didn’t see many folks on trail and camped alone, so not too much suffering heh.
You’ve seen the summit pictures. Now see what it took to get there and back on a Winter backpacking adventure to a place few folks visit with snow on the ground. The video runs a bit under an hour, so grab a snack and appropriate beverage, make sure you are watching in HD and enjoy!
27 pics and a wee bit of babbling from a Winter adventure years in the making. I have been asking myself for a long time if it was possible for me to get to the top of Sunday River Whitecap during the Winter. Having been up there many times while toddling along the Grafton Loop it has long been a favorite summit. I have never seen another person up there in any other season as it is far from the road. It is rarely visited in Winter for that same reason.
This will mostly be a photo dump from summit day. I shot 22G of video on the trip so the whole story will come out soon, but I saved the still camera for the good part. The hike in to the Sargent Brook tent site was definitely an adventure. I followed some old tracks over Bald Mtn and up towards Stowe Mtn but they wandered off into the woods and then turned back. After that it was a combination of guessing and GPS that led me to the Sargent Brook tent site about noon on the second day.
It was dark and windy, so certainly not a good day to summit. Since I had time on my hands I broke trail about half way up the mountain. The GPS was needed at least once or twice until I was amazed to find tracks coming down the mountain and disappearing off trail headed down. Someone had climbed up from the valley and skied down at some point. I continued breaking trail a bit further before heading down to camp for the night.
So I lived the dream, climbed the mountain, ate the donut. Now I just had to toddle on out heh. It was an amazing feeling to have been there, but I had a real sense of just how far I had to go to get back. Thankfully I had my tracks to follow so it was just a matter of humping that heavy pack up and down a few mountains. We’ll save the details for the video since we’re out of pictures, but spoiler alert, I lived 🙂
There were some battery challenges due to the temperatures as well as a bit of frost nip on my thumb shooting the summit clouds, but if you liked the pics from my last post I’m thinking you’re going to enjoy seeing the trip in motion.
26 pics and a bit of babbling after a couple of frigid, but beautiful nights in the Maine woods. I won’t keep you in suspense, there will be amazing summit pics that risked frostbite and killed my batteries. Totally worth it!!
Seeing a few days of sunshine in the forecast I loaded up a pack to hit one of my favorite Winter backpacking spots. I try to do a Baldpates trip every year during snow season.
Last year the snow was several feet deeper when I was here. It was strange to see rocks in places and even open water in a few spots.
It was in the low 20s and breezy which is nice hiking weather as far as I am concerned heh. I had to go a bit slow on the steeper sections to avoid sweating, but all around a beautiful day for a walk in the woods with a 55lb pack on my back.
It didn’t look like anyone had been up the mountain in days and given the weather I wasn’t expecting to see many folks over the next few days.
I arrived at the Baldpate Shelter site around 130pm and had time to enjoy a cup of tea before setting up camp. Knowing the mice that live here I set up my hammock far off in the trees.
It was 14°f when I got up in the morning and cloudy. What else could I do but stand around and drink coffee while I waited to see what the weather would do? I was surprised by a trail runner who stopped in for a snack. He had already ran to the summit and back while I was drinking coffee! Soon after he left it started to clear and I headed up.
The wind at the summit was bitter cold. I love being up there, but you have to be careful not to freeze any bits off.
Looking towards the East peak is always tempting until stepping past these trees and into the full wind. I looked some, but didn’t go much farther.
Not sure how cold it was up there, but my camera batteries started dying fast. Everything shuts down in that sort of cold.
It does create the perfect frozen chocolate donut though!! A favorite treat on Winter backpacking excursions, the frozen donut takes at least 24 hours of frigid temperatures and a fair amount of smushing and crushing to reach perfection. This one was slightly better than that because it was really cold!
Then it was back down to camp for a couple of dinners. Some body heat managed to get the cameras running again so I was able to capture this view of the 4pm setting sun. It would be a long night, at least 487 hours from the feel of it, with a low around 12°f that hit by 7pm and held steady through 8am the next day. I rolled out of bed at 6am in the dark because I couldn’t stay in the hammock any longer. It was cold, but at least I was free heh.
I didn’t wait for the sun and headed down the mountain as the clouds burned off. It had been a great trip, but like most cold weather trips, I was ready to go home where a simple mistake probably won’t kill me. There is a fair amount of stress involved in making sure I stay alive out there, but given how pretty it all is, I think it’s worth the effort.
There will be a video or two coming from this trip as well. I shot about 8G so there ought to be something in there. Look for that on my YouTube channel in the coming week.
50 pics and some babbling from an early June adventure to the Caribou Speckled Wilderness in Western Maine. I’m mostly making YouTube videos these days, but this many pretty pictures deserved a post here too I thought!
Being trapped in Maine I’ve had to get more creative in planning my trips rather than wandering all over New England as usual. While we have done a family day hike of Blueberry Mtn and I enjoyed a fabulous Baldface Circle/Wild River loop a few years back, I’d never explored the Caribou Speckled Wilderness. Some research led me to put together this loop, with the open section a road walk on Hwy 113.
The plan was a relaxing two nights to cover about 15 miles of wilderness with a 1.5 mile road walk on one end. I’d wanted to make the second night the big summit night, but weather suggested I go the other way. That meant a short hike up to Speckled via Spruce Hill Tr. on day one so I got a late start, arriving at the East Royce Tr lot about noon.
A pretty quick stomp later found me setting up camp in the short trees just below the summit. I’ll be posting video later of this part of the hike, but the first pics I took were on top of the mountain.
Speaking of which… here come the pics!
This was supposed to be my good weather day, but as the afternoon wore on there was wind and sleet. I could see sunshine down in the valleys in the distance, but it was dark and cold on the summit. I wondered why no one else had come to camp, though I did meet one nice day hiker up there.
Given the dark skies and threat of frostbite I gave up on getting sunset pictures and retired to camp for dinner and bed. There was a plan to get up early for sunrise, though I had my doubts looking at the skies.
It was definitely worth getting out of bed for, though it was cold enough that I brought my quilt with me to the summit. It said 36°f on the thermometer in camp and the breeze on the summit had some bite to it.
I pulled this pic from my morning coffee video 🙂 You can just make out the top of Mt Washington over the ridge behind me. It was a little warmer now so I wasn’t wearing my quilt, but I can see from the look on my face that it wasn’t exactly warm up there heh.
Then it was time to head into the less traveled part of the wilderness. I had no clue where I was going, never having been here before. It was fun to have that sense of adventure that comes from not knowing what comes next.
The Red Rocks Trail was a steady series of rolling ups and downs as it traversed several mountains before finally reaching its namesake, Red Rock Mtn and then rolling down towards Miles Notch. I say rolling because despite dropping down it managed to go up hill more than a few times too.
The Miles Notch trail follows a brook for most of its length. There were a series of small crossings, easy rock hops at current levels. There also were an amazing number of bugs. There were enough black flies I had to put on my headnet for a while at times, despite the humid heat of the afternoon. There also were enough skeeters that I had to break out the picaridin, which almost never happens since I’ve begun treating my clothes with permethrin. Just a small squirt on the back of the hands and the back of the elbows did the trick.
There was some logging at the end of Miles Notch a while back, but I was able to follow the trail well enough to find the forest again. Once I reached the WMNF boundary I made camp for the night and enjoyed a little rain on the roof.
There are no pics from the rest of the trip I’m afraid. Haystack Notch Trail was an adventure like no other I’ve had before. It disappeared at times completely, with no trace of where it might have gone. Resorting to GPS I was able to relocate it, though even that was challenging at times. Somewhere in there I got turned around and found that the trail is much easier to follow heading in the other direction. I was making really good time until I realized that I was walking past where I’d camped the night before 🙂
Look for a video in a few days that tells the story more fully. This post was mostly about sharing all of those pretty pictures. This really was a great trip, despite getting lost in the wilderness heh. If you go this way I highly suggest coming armed with a GPS and a good .gpx track. A compass came in handy at times as well because phone compasses often seem to have no clue where they are pointing when you’re in the mountains. That is how I managed to get turned around even while looking at the GPS 🙂
Hope you are able to get out somewhere despite all the troubles in the world. Nature can be a soothing respite, though you may prefer smaller doses unless you appreciate getting lost in the wilderness as much as I do!