First of two videos from last week’s Grafton Loop trip. This is the narrated version with some babbling at times. Look for an extended cut with no babbling to come along soonish. I recorded a lot of trail hiking on this trip!
Mostly just a dump of some beautiful Fall pics, but a little babbling as well. Video to follow.
Wanting to spend some quiet time on familiar trails I decided to head up to one of my favorite spots. I loaded the bear can for three nights in case I was feeling sporty and headed up Puzzle Mtn mid morning on a Tuesday. The parking lot was empty and so was the trail for the next 28 hours or so.
The weather was oddly tropical for mid October in Maine. Warm and humid with no air movement at all, even on the summit. Very pretty, but sweaty so you see lots of pics of the trees and none of me heh.
Day 2 started off dark and damp with the sun not rising til after 7 and a heavy dew. I made coffee and enjoyed my bag of cereal as the light lifted. Once I could see I broke camp which isn’t my usual order of operations. This way is more relaxing than breaking camp while making breakfast, but a lot slower. It was after 8 by the time I got going.
There were still lots of leaves on the trees, but they were falling fast. The trail was becoming harder to walk as the surface disappeared. I actually slipped and fell twice on this hike which was disturbing. I’ve gotten so good at catching myself that I couldn’t remember the last time I hit the ground. Very pretty though heh. These views are from Lightning Ledge. Depending on timing it makes a great spot for second breakfast or elevensies. The only bad part is that the views come before the top of the climb so you have to go up some more after the break.
Then it was time to hump up the back side of East Baldpate. This climb goes up for a while and then goes up some more heh. There are some final views back over the ground I’d covered the last two days as a bit of inspiration before pushing on to the top.
It was almost 2 by the time I reached the summit, but no matter what the clock said, it was cheese and sausage time. Oddly for mid October there was a swarm of small black flies up there. Looking at them they didn’t seem to be Black Flies, but some other tiny fly that was black. Many were slaughtered as I enjoyed my late lunch, though I imagine a few enjoyed eating me as well.
It was nice to spend some time out of the trees for a while. The open ledges of East Baldpate and the slabby open trail of the col even had a tiny bit of breeze. I won’t say I was dry, but at least I felt drier heh. Then it was back into the damp woods for the steep descent to the Baldpate Shelter. While the first night I made camp near dark, this time I was able to enjoy a couple of hours sitting around. So very quiet! No breeze, no people, even the red squirrels that usually are fighting were silent. Pretty nice night!
In the morning I decided that I was wet enough and had hit the ground enough so I’d be taking the road back to the scoot rather than heading over Old Speck. The leaves are prettier on the trees. On the ground they are sort of dangerous, but still pretty. I was left thinking that I should have come a few days earlier, though still glad I’d made the effort.
The road walk had some spectacular views. It is always a long 7 miles, but this time it had moments like these where it seemed like a great spot to be. Not where I expected to be this week, yet it seemed I was exactly where I was supposed to be. Hope you’ve been getting out when you can!
44 pics from an early season visit to Baxter State Park. The Traveler Loop was still off limits, but we found a fine replacement in Black Cat. It certainly was a lot easier 🙂
Other than a bit of a cliff face hanging over the lake it was a pretty casual hike in to our camp. The cliff is pretty, but also pretty exciting in a few spots. The camp at Upper South Branch is nicer than in years passed with a new lean to and latrine a few years back. Very relaxing, but very buggy!
Very peaceful provided you have bug protection. We didn’t bring the pie irons but managed to make do with foil for our campfire pizzas. Many were eaten, none remained for the bears to scavenge. Best way to keep a clean camp is put all the food in your face!
Morning dawned sort of purple and fuzzy, but coffee and hot mush solved most of our problems in quick order.
Black Cat took a little longer, but was a nice consolation prize for Traveler being closed. Many flies on the summit, but we did not let that deter us from our sausage and cheese. Then it was time for the views!
Dinner that night was not as photogenic as the pizza. A wonderful mashed potato concoction with mixed veggies and bacon, but no thought was given to taking pictures. Might have been hungry, might have been the rain that started just before we ate.
Wet night, wet morning and a wet hike out. It stopped raining soon after we left camp and no one fell off the cliff, so definitely a pretty good ending to the trip. There will be a couple of videos at some point, but I am really busy getting things ready for the next couple of trips on the calendar, so no promises.
Hope you are getting out there when you can too!
You’ve seen a lot of pics of this mountain on previous trips over the years. This time I stayed and spent some quality time up there.
I had the East Royce parking lot to myself and only saw a couple of cars on the road walk north to Haystack Notch TH.
That looks like antler damage to me. No claw marks and there was plenty of “evidence” along the trails.
My campsite had a fire ring so I thought that would be a good place to put my wood stove. Plenty of dry birch twigs to be found. The forest is really dry right now though, so be careful with any fire or stove.
After passing through a section of private land at the Miles Notch intersection it was a steady climb up towards the top of the notch, mostly along the brook.
Being wilderness there were plenty of obstacles to manage. Some easy to step over or around, others requiring some bushwhacking.
After loading up with a heavy load of water to get me through the next 24 hours or so I headed up the Red Rock trail. Some nice views in spots, but the ridge is really just a series of hills. I guess they may be mountains heh, but it was definitely a lot of elevation change. Given the heavy load of water I wasn’t always amused when spotting the next climb.
I’d hoped to spend the night on top of Speckled, but I was pretty wiped out by the time I got to the base of the final climb. Definitely a good thing I can camp anywhere because this was as far as I was going.
Trail clothes hanging out to dry while I enjoy what I can see of the after dinner sunset. It was an early night with no reading in bed, just zzzz
I started up the climb in great spirits, filled with vigor after a restful night. Heh, no, that wasn’t it at all. Coffee got me moving, but I am not sure what got me up that mountain. Mostly wanting to see the views I think. Well that and the scoot being parked on the other side of it.
It was a pretty morning, with the light hitting the new green leaves and the pines. There were some rolling sections between steep pitches, but I have to say I think I like coming down this side of Speckled more than going up it.
Oh but those views at the top make it worth all the troubles. Pardon the black spots in some of these pics, but I was not alone up there.
We’ll end the trip here looking at this gnarled old beast of a tree that just keeps going. Might be a lesson there 🙂
The more time you spend on trail the more you can benefit from a bit of thought about your own personal mechanics. In one last spring training video before my backpacking season kicks into high gear I spend a few minutes focusing on form and how our function on trail is directly related to how we use our bodies. See if taking a little time to think about how you hike can bring you a bit more happiness out there!
Short video about the benefits of taking care of your body’s needs before it asks. Hiking and backpacking are supposed to be fun, not torture! See my thoughts on the subject, then do some thinking of your own about how you can treat yourself better on trail. You’re worth it!!