Friday, April 21, 2006

Saddleback & The Horn

Yesterday I decided it was time for me to start knocking off some mountains in Maine. I woke up at 7am and picked my father's car up at 8am to head towards Maine for the 6 hour drive. Yeah... that's right...6 HOUR DRIVE.
I got to Saddleback Ski area at 2pm in the afternoon after driving all morning in beautiful, sunny warm weather. On this trip I decided to pack my Salomon 1080's and ski boots along with me. I also took crampons up because the guidebook said it was a ridgewalk. As I was gearing up a man came out of the lodge said hi and asked to make sure I had a cell phone with me. Not that it helped at all because when I actually got to the ridge I still had no reception... I started off up the slushy ski slopeSaddleback_the_horn_42106_012
and made amazing time. I guess my legs are being reconditioned fast with all the hiking I have been doing this past month. The ski slope I decided to hike up was a straight shot up to the ridge from about half way up the mountain and it was steep... real steep. The kind of steep that if you fall you will slide for a very long ways. I decided on it because I love challenges :). I had my plastic Koflach mountaineering boots so I felt pretty secure stomping into the snow and using my ski poles for balance. I made it to the top in an hour and dropped my ski boots and skis of at the top of the chairlift before proceeding onto the exposed ridge to the summit of Saddleback.
The Saddleback ridge was unbelievable. It is a long exposed ridge for almost 1.5 miles to the next mountain I was after - Saddleback, The Horn. It was 60 degrees out with no wind and perfectly Saddleback_the_horn_42106_024
blue skies and except for some shaded sections in the trees there was only patches of snow around on the rocks - I didn't need my crampons at all. I had great views over to the Presidential Range and the White Mountains of NH which I had passedSaddleback_the_horn_42106_028
through that morning as well as terrific views of the backside of Sugarloaf, my home ski mountain while at college at Bowdoin in Brunswick, ME. I snapped a few pictures on the summit of Saddleback and proceeded down the 500ft col to begin my ascent up the ridge towards The Horn. Whenever I would duck into tree strands on the ridge I would sink up to my thigh inSaddleback_the_horn_42106_016
melting snow.. it was a little irritating. Again, to my amazement I saw moose tracks at that elevation! Once again a moose had found it was wise to follow the Appalachian Trail on the ridge to get to wherever it was going. All along the ridge there were little pools of water collected from the melting snow. It was amazing.
I quickly ran up to the summit of the Horn, snapped some pics and headed back down to the col to go Saddleback_the_horn_42106_038back up to the summit of Saddleback. Essentially the hike was 3 mountains because I had to do Saddleback twice coming back over it to the chairlift where I left my skis. I was strapping on my
skis at 4:45pm to head down the slope ISaddleback_the_horn_42106_054 had hiked up. My legs felt strong even though I had only eaten a kitkat since breakfast
at my parents at 8am. The ski down was great in the sun by myself and I was able to grab some air off some lips on the steep slope. I ended up skiing the last section down to the lodge switch (backwards) hoping to impress anyone in the lodge.. haha.
I headed out of the ski resort at 5pm not looking forward to the 5.5 hour drive home against the setting sun. Route 16 north of Mt. Washington all the way to Saddleback was the most desolate road I had ever driven. I was honestly averaging 80mph for a good hour down it on the way up in the Saddleback_the_horn_42106_065
morning and I did the same on the way back. There were no cars on it for miles and miles. On the way home I had something different to worry about.... large 1500lb animals that come out at dusk to hang around pools of water by the side of the road... that's right... moose... and I saw 8 of them on just that road on the way home. One was standing directly in the middle of the road when I came around the corner at 80mph and quickly ran to the side of the road. I stopped a couple times to take some video and pictures and yell at them a bit to get their attention. I think they were confused at the loud muffler on my dads car.. haha.
As I passed through Berlin, NH I saw a forest fire on the side of a mountain overlooking the city. It has been reallySaddleback_the_horn_42106_069
dry lately with great weather and there have been many fires... this being one of them. I also had some great views of the northern Presidential Range going through Jefferson, NH (where I climbed Waumbek last week). I took the wrong road briefly at one point and lost about 15 minutes of time before realizing I was heading towards Canada! Stopped at McDonalds for some really shitty dinner and was home by 11pm to drop the car off at my parents and head back to Saratoga to go out for the night. What a wondeful day of hiking in blue skies and warm weather... too bad it took me 6 hours to get there!


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Berlin NH is no longer a smelly city... And I remember that forest fire...I don't think the mill was even running at that time; the city is trying hard to get rid of that reputation...unfortunately your blog comes up high when one searches Berlin, NH.