Saddleback & its Horn, for 58+59 of the Winter NE 67
Straightforward day checking off two more of the Winter NE 67 (9 left). Ski trails did have some ice, but there was a good amount of solid drifts and/or short vegetation to help with traction. Up on the ridge, though, lots and lots of ice; it was really more necessary to wear crampons, or the half-version (K-10s/Hillsounds). My two friends used crampons and had a much easier time with the ice, but my snowshoes allowed me to glide over the snow drifts among the trees more easily. Bring both along for the foreseeable future.
North/South Crocker + Redington, for 55-57 of Winter NE 67
Some say a Crockers/Redington traverse is one of the hardest hikes in Winter. I would agree it's one of the tougher 15-mile hikes you can do! Coming off a disappointing day the previous day (got only Sugarloaf), we took on these peaks with a renewed and fueled gusto. Chris D joined us as well.
Took the bushwhack from the Sugarloaf Golf course. Park in the main lot, walk down the hill to the left past the clubhouse and around to the pump house. Cross the bridge over the Carrabassett and follow the cart path up to the 11th tee. The bushwhack starts to the left of the tee and takes you down to a sizable stream crossing. We crossed (use poles for best results) and maintained a track largely paralleling the stream until we came out at Caribou Valley Road (CVR), just before the 3-mile mark (from Route 27).
Took Caribou Valley Road to the AT junction on the right and headed up South Crocker. On the way to North Crocker, we ran into two guys coming the other way who _hadn't_ been ahead of us. They actually hiked the AT from Route 27, quite a feat to be taking on. They continued to South Crocker and eventually Redington.
Temps were very cold, below zero, but wind was light or non-existent, making this a very nice day. Cloudless skies provided views to the neighboring high peaks in all directions.
After summiting North Crocker, we headed back toward and over South Crocker, then started in on the bushwhack. At the AT boundary swath we ran into the same two guys from earlier; they ran into trouble finding the bushwhack off the AT boundary. We welcomed them into our little team.
The Redington whack was generally straightforward. We were helped by my GPS device and a downloaded track or two, courtesy of friends like Tim, Pam, Chris.
Three summits in the bag, we headed down the bushwhack and joined up with the old logging road/corridor and picked up a logging road and eventually Caribou Valley Road. The final road walk went much faster than we thought, though we did have to hike out in darkness the last three or so hours.
Plenty of bangs came from the bucks we spent on this one! Challenging, but still very rewarding - as Maine should be.
Sugarloaf, from the ski area
Another tough day to get in multiple peaks without hiking out in the cold wind and dark. Temps were well above freezing in the morning and a steady rain fell until about 10am. We decided to hold off until the rain switched to snow and got underway about 11. Took the Windrow and Timberline ski trails up, as directed by the Sugarloaf uphill access regulations ($10 access ticket) - http://sugarloaf.com/the-mountain/uphill-policy. Reached the summit a bit after 1pm and found good shelter from the strong winds behind the highest building/tower.
Had originally planned to hike over to Spaulding and even Abraham, but the morning rain and unsure LT conditions made it tough for us to reasonably do that. We would have had to hike out in the dark at least a couple hours, maybe more depending on trail conditions of the Sugarloaf Side Trail + LT. (Six miles round-trip to Spaulding and back to Sugarloaf, then another couple miles down.) We decided to leave them for another day, as we had two more days of hiking in the area ahead.
Surface conditions were easy enough. These two ski trails were closed due to lack of snow depth. Didn't really need snowshoes, but the televators made the climb easier. We didn't have to deal with any more than an inch or few of fresh snow. Snow fell the whole time we were out there. In places where snow was blown to one side of the trail, we occasionally broke through an ice crust, but we easily avoided it by hiking on or alongside the visible/mowed growth on the trail.
We'll be back for you, Spaulding + Abraham!
Mt. Abraham (Vermont, 4017'), for 54 of Winter NE 67
Mt. Ellen (4083'), for 52 of Winter NE 67
Tough day due to the extreme cold. -11 at the trailhead, -20 at the summit. Stayed warm, though taking hands out for more than 10-20 seconds was pretty bad, as expected at those levels. Glad to have at least one of the VT 4Ks in the books for winter, with all the effort I'm putting in this week!
Mt. Mansfield (attempt)
Tough day. Was easy going, if slow due to pretty unrelenting steep climb. Quick 1/3-mile road walk led to LT that was well broken-out/packed mostly by skinners, up to the Hell Brook/Profanity trail junction area.
Beyond that, faint snowshoe tracks led up to the col between Adams Apple and the Chin.
At the col, lost any sight of the snowshoe track, but made it a little farther. Had trouble getting up one stretch that I believe was the trail, due to very deep drifted snow. Temp was -9F, but wind was relatively light (it appeared very strong on the other side of the mountain).
Tried a couple other ways up, but stepped into more than a few spruce traps. This, combined with the temps, the fact that I was solo, and the likely difficulty ahead, led me to decide it best to come back another day, maybe with reinforcements...
South Brother & Coe - Liz' Winter NE100 Finish
An epic return trip to Baxter State Park, the third in Winter and fifth overall. With this trip in the books, I've completed the six high peaks there for a second time, this time in Winter.
Serious snow depth of 2-3 feet from a recent storm required strength and resolve to forge ahead. Five of us started the day, but only three ended up summiting. Everyone in the group had a fantastic time, though, and I'm sure we'll all hike together again!
Congratulations to Liz for completing her second round of New England 100 Highest, this time in Winter. What an accomplishment, and it wasn't without its obstacles along the way. She persevered and has so much to be proud about.
This brings my quest to complete my Winter second round of the 100 highest, to 76. Great to be done with the Baxter six on that list, but I know I'll return to Baxter many, many more times. It's a truly special place.