Sunday, June 29, 2008

Lost in the mist.

We planned a very ambitious hiking day yesterday with Mike and Katie. It was our intention to leave Dixfield at 6 a.m. (check) and drive up to the Caribou Pond Road near Sugarloaf (check) and hike to South Crocker, Crocker and Reddington Mountains (here's where the checks get blurry and soggy).

Our plan was to drive as far up the road as we could and then walk to the place where the Appalachian Trail crosses Caribou Pond Road and hike north on the AT to South Crocker, then take what was described as a well-defined bushwhack up to Reddington Peak then re-trace our steps and get back on the AT to Crocker--it seemed simple enough.

Well, our first mistake was by walking past the trailhead and continuing to the end of Caribou Pond Road--maybe an hour or more of walking and 1000 feet in elevation that we didn't need to do. How all four of us managed to miss the AT going off both to the right and the left is beyond me, but we missed.

Once we found the trail, off we trotted. Soon we found a cluster of Amanita muscaria also known as Fly Agaric (used at one time to make fly poison it is now known to produce states of delirium and raving but few fatalities). We didn't sample it, although had we known it's properties we might have been tempted on the return hike.

About a mile into the hike, we stopped for trail mix and water and were passed by a large group of friendly hikers that were doing a traverse of the Crockers.

After the rest break, the trail got very steep--Mike had GPS and while I tried not to listen when he said our elevation at our break stop, I heard enough to realize that the next 1.4 miles was going to exceed my generally acceptable 1 mile:1000 feet ratio. I took my time, kind of embarrassed by my tortoise speed but getting there nonetheless. We were in clouds the whole way but there were several spots where we could imagine panoramic views of the Sugarloaf region.

We made the summit of South Crocker and then decided to make the bushwhack of Reddington--this is where it all fell apart. The bushwhack was very tough and not well-defined at all--eventually an hour into it we were into a spruce-fir thicket so dense that we couldn't see the person in front or behind and so we decided to cut our losses and head back to South Crocker. It turns out, we had gotten off track--well I guess that should have been obvious. Back at the summit, we enjoyed our lunch and headed back down the mountain.

It was nice to have shared the day with Charlie, Mike and Katie and now that we know where the trailhead is and where the bushwhack isn't, I may return some day to capture the views but maybe not too soon.


Jayne said...

My feet and legs were hurting for you Beth. Ack... can't imagine that trip when the course was so difficult to find. But, you prevailed! You GO GIRL!

beckie said...

You certainly have more energy than I! Aside from all the misses, it sounds as though you had a good time. You must really feel a sense of accomplishment when you finish a hike like this. As Jayne said, "Go Girl!"

What a lovely anniversary tribute to Ethan and Anne. They sound like a wonderful couple.

Beth said...

Jayne and Beckie, thanks for the encouragement. There is a sense of accomplishment even when things don't turn out as expected.

Weather Boy said...

Yeah, definitely steer clear of the amanita muscaria. Those visions come at a price...

julochka said...

sounds like quite an adventure!

i found my way here from the elementary and had to stop by because you mentioned that your daughter is going to macedonia.

i spent 9 months studying in macedonia 10 years ago and so that piqued my interest! it's a bit off the beaten path, so i always love finding someone who has been there or is going.

Beth said...

Weatherboy, yes, we were close enough to hallucinations and ravings even without the aminita muscaria!

Julochka, My e-mail is you would e-mail me I would pass it along to daughter who might have many macedonia questions. Thanks!

Kathiesbirds said...

Wow, that sounds like quite a workout Beth! I'm lgad you weren't lost in the mist for too long. Bet you slept well that night though!

The Texican said...

Now you will need to do better than that when I come up. Do they allow ice chests with wheels on the trail? I don't know if trail mix would be enough to get me untracked.

TheElementary said...

I enjoy your adventures, and it's lovely to read them from the comfort of home :) You are so funny, even when you're writing about a disaster.
Bu I'm glad you had a nice day overall.
"where the bushwhack isn't"- sounds to me like a great title for a book about nature hiking.

SJ said...

Lost on a mountain in Maine... sounds like a god book title to me.