Thursday, November 25, 2010

Training, it's all about the training!

There is nothing quite like filling a back pack full of gear & food and hitting the trail!  I was invited by my mountain bike friends, Bill, Todd and Chuck to head out on a section of the Appalachian Trail in Maine for a couple of days. What a great backpacking trip it was! 

Walk the plank to the other side of the river!

The Fall Colors were just starting to appear in the Sugarloaf, Maine area and as I entered the forest, the buzz hit me, the colors intensified, the smells of the wilderness opened up my air way and I realized that I was very much alive.  It's tough to put into words the excitement I felt about getting on the trail, walking a great distance carrying all I would need to survive, very comfortably I might add, for a couple of days. But in one word, awesome!

You couldn't ask for a better crew on this trip. In addition to Bill, Chuck,Todd and myself, there was Steve, Paul, Jules, Don and Todd Ringelberg, we were nine in total. The trail was rugged, as you might expect from the AT, but I just hiked slowly, methodically, placing my feet firmly on the turf, walking on stone as much as possible and taking it all in. Premeditation for future mountain missions.

A steep and rocky trail climbing up to Sugarloaf Mountain

A good shot of the crew headed up the trail.

I had hiked up this trail before, many, many, years ago to peak-bag Sugarloaf, but this time I was after my sixty sixth Four Thousand Foot Mountain.  You see, a few years after I finished climbing the 65 peaks on that cold, cold, day February 2, 1996 they re-measured a couple of the mountains in Maine, Spaulding and Reddington. They found them to be just over 4000 feet.  Who doesn't want to add more peaks to their list?

Most of the guys in the group had to bag all three of our planned climbs for their lists.  A decision was made by some, which I quickly scoffed at, to drop pack at the junction of the Sugarloaf spur trail and go for the peak.  I think I said in a few explicative words, I'm not dropping my F&^@!#$ pack, I'm carrying over all the summits, basically throwing down the gauntlet right then and there!  The only one to follow suit, at least over Sugarloaf and Spaulding was Ringelberg.  Ahh, good fun and a nice challenge.  I think I even took off for the summit of the Loaf with a very brisk pace from that junction only conceding to TR1 just before the summit, so he could have the glory of summiting this Maine 4000 footer.

and there he goes!
Atop Sugarloaf, the second highest mountain in Maine, sits a lot of trash from the skiing operations.  It's littered with buildings, radio & communication towers and just a bunch of crap to put it mildly.  Oh whatever, it's a great ski mountain for the two plankers and knuckledraggers to ski and ride on.  Plenty of Massholes make the trip and add to our state's economy.  Thanks Holes!  Now go back home.  Ha, ha!

The summit building, where you're no longer allowed to camp in, or even go into to seek refuge in bad weather.  Who needs rules? They were meant to be broken! I didn't venture in, but a few of us did. 

I didn't take a summit photo from Spaulding, but I did get to the top, pack on my back and took this shot of the hill before hitting the trail to the top.

It's a quiet little peak, but very nice indeed. Spaulding Mountain in the distance.

I think I was the last one to reach Spaulding shelter and it was pretty full with the crew gobbling up their spots to sleep.  The party had already started when I arrived so I quickly joined in the fun.  A good way to end the day!  I settled into my little nook behind the shelter, sleeping bag, bivy sack, ground cloth, all set to snooze!  

My nook! (Photo by TR1)

I woke up to the sound of rain droplets hitting the ground and a few snoring grunts from the crew in the shelter.  I should have thought more about where I set up my sleeping situation.  They were sawing wood all night in that lean-to and it reverberated out the back quite loudly.  I still slept like a log on the ground though from the previous days efforts.  

One problem, I was responsible for coffee, which I forgot, thankfully one of the Todd's had a little pack of Starbucks Via and the Todd I was supposed to supply coffee for, had some special tea, so it all worked out.  Thanks for the Via, Todd B.

With breakfast in our bellies, we set out for the second half of the trip.  It was a wonderful rainy hike through the forest toward Mt. Abraham.  There must have been a few moose watching us, there was moose droppings all over and it looked like he or she had trashed about the trail.  Not any old trail, I'm talking steep, rocky terrain at elevation.  Pretty impressive signs of moose life from my perspective. 

some colorful moss.

Appalachian Trail Terrain 
Not long after I took this shot, we took the Abraham Trail, then emerged from the trees onto the rocky slopes of Mount Abraham.  I've climbed this one a few times and never have I had a view from this summit.  It's always fogged in and rainy, but that is part of the mystery and lure of the hills, there is certainly something beautiful about it no matter what the weather in the mountains. 

Todd Bumen navigating the fog

the crew headed up

Our reward
 Bill and Steve had charted out a bushwack on the map with GPS coordinates for us to take as a fun aspect of the trip, but considering the lack of visibility, we headed down the Fire Warden's trail and back to the cars.  I had a great time on this trip and it was the beginning of my quest to get to Baxter State Park this winter.  It's all about the training!  Good times with some good friends and some new friends too!
Thanks for reading!  A couple of parting shots!

Mountain flora.

A Sparky Summit Sprint! (photo by TR1)

1 comment:

louise said...

very nice, sounds like a great adventure! love the Holes comment! : )