Tuesday, May 9, 2006

Week in NH & ME Day 2 - Crockers, Reddington & a busted ankle

I woke up at 9 and started hiking at about 10:15am.  The Caribou Valley road was very rough and I had to stop a half mile before where the AT crossed so I wouldn't tear the bottom of my dads car out (your welcome dad).  The climb up South Crocker on the Appalachian Trail was very steep with many Cimg3293
views from within the glacially carved cirque in the mountain.  The shape of the land in the glacial cirque indicated that the mountains once held their own glacier years ago.  The summit of South Crocker was wooded with only a sign marking theCimg3295
summit that I stood next to.  After climbing South Crocker I quickly traversed the ridge to Crocker by noon.  Thankfully there wasn't much snow on that part of the ridge and I was able to traverse it quickly.  Once again I saw moose tracks above 4,000 ft on the ridge which always suprises me.  How the hell do giant moose climb up the steep icy slopes?  (I think there is Cimg3299
more to know about meese than we currently do).  The summit of Crocker was also wooded with very few views.  I Came back to South Crocker and could not find the herdpath to Reddington.  I had brought along a hike description of a couple who easily followed the herdpath to Reddington from South Crocker but they had done it in the summer... now there was snow covering everything and I could not tell
Cimg3298 where the well trampled trail led through the woods.  I looked for broken branches and everything I
could think of but with 2-3 feet of snow in some places still it was a lost cause...  The next 2 hours was a mega struggle.  I struggled with every step,Cimg3304
sinking in the snow up to my thighs.  Every time I sunk in sharp branches underneath the snow would stab at my legs.  My gators protected my calves but my knees and thighs were exposed and got pretty cut up.  I had to bash through thick spruce groves and dead branches that cut and stabbed my arms as I went.  Then, after my arms and legs were bleeding the branches feltCimg3309
like dry bath brushes rubbing my wounds raw... Then I twisted my ankle and found myself limping across a logging clearing to a logging road.  I could see the summit was about a half mile away but once again lost the path in the deep snow and struggled, yelling in pain and frustration for another half an hour before stumbling onto the trail. 
Cimg3310Reddington was nearly 7 hours from Saratoga Springs and was my last mountain in Maine besides Katahdin so I was damn well gonna get to the summit regardless of how painful it was.  I finally reached the summit canister and toppled wind tower.  As I signed the
register at the top I noticed that I was the only one there since March!... no wonder I couldn't find any stomped trail toCimg3314
follow... no one had been there!  I Slowly limped down logging roads with Sugarloaf in the background until they ended and then again bushwacked down the ridge through thick brush.  Occasionally I found moose and deer paths that were easier to follow through the thick new growth forest.  Finally I came to a large stream that I had to cross on a fallen tree to get back to the Caribou Valley road.  As I was limping down the road two kids passed by me in an offroad truck and offered to pick me up on their way back but I refused to finish on my own.  After the exhausting long painful hike I looked at my ankle and decided I had Cimg3317
just bruised my ankle bone good.  I ate a burger at a roadside shack called 'Boneheads' after showering at he Stratton Motel then also later got a spaghetti dinner at the Stratton Diner across the street.  I also took a little drive towards Canada (30 miles away) and took some pics of the mountains I had cliimbed over the last few days.  I stopped at a local store in Stratton and got some gauze wrap for my ankle and some Aleve for the hike in the morning up Moriah.  The hike wasCimg3324
supposed to be about 7 or 8 miles but after all the bushwacking, traversing and the extra distance down the Caribou Valley Road to save my dads Taurus the hike turned out to be nearly 12 miles and nearly 4 miles of that was limping.  I ended up watching a movie about Bird Flu hitting the U.S. and everyone dying... (love how hollywood over dramatizes everything....) and then good ol' 'Scarface' before closing my eyes for the night.


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