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#4599643 - 05/15/22 11:26 PM My first hike of the season, May 13 -14  
Joined: Jun 2006
Posts: 13,133
NH2112 Offline
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NH2112  Offline
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Joined: Jun 2006
Posts: 13,133
Jackman, ME
Maybe 6 weeks ago I re-injured my problem knee, and after a short hike last weekend I decided it was ready to be pushed a little harder this weekend. The 2 tallest mountains nearby are 3717’ Coburn Mountain and 3639’ Boundary Bald Mountain. I like hiking Bald better (it’s more difficult and the summit is better for camping) but the dirt road that leads to it is gated for mud season, so Coburn it was. Unfortunately, my phone camera doesn’t work very well and I didn’t want to carry the digital camera around my neck, so I had to bring my iPad. I kept it in my top pack pocket but but it was too much of a PITA to take out other than during stops. So I took very few pics.

A pic of my camp on the summit from last year.

[Linked Image]

One of my camps on Boundary Bald Mountain last year.

[Linked Image]

The weather forecast showed Friday night being clear and a risk of thunderstorms for Saturday, so I decided to go Friday. The problem was both days were forecast to be HOT, in the mid-upper 80s. But that’s more discomfort than danger so I’d just deal with it. Friday was hot just as forecast, I got out of work at 2, headed home to shower, and made one addition to my backpack due to a chance conversation I had in the convenience store the other day.

I got to the trailhead around 1630 and within 5 minutes was hiking. The most awesome part of the whole trip happened soon after - while rounding a slight bend I saw either a bobcat or Canada lynx in the trail ahead of me! The sun was in my face so everything was too washed out to tell its color, but I think it was a bobcat because it didn’t have the very long hind legs of a lynx. It continued unhurriedly up the trail, and when I got to where it disappeared it was like it had never been there. Of course, being a cat it could have been 3 feet off the trail and I wouldn’t have seen it.

My route up the mountain. The green dot is the trailhead.

[Linked Image]

Starting last year I began a different way of hydrating myself. I used to carry a 2.5l water bladder in my pack and just drink from that, but because I couldn’t tell how much I had left I often didn’t drink enough. So now I bring a Katadyn BeFree filter on a 1l squeeze bottle, and 2 empty 1l bottles. The BeFree filters biologicals down to 0.1 micron, with a 1l+/min flow rate. When I get thirsty or come to a stream, spring, or puddle that doesn’t look TOO nasty I fill the BeFree bottle, drink it, and continue on. At my last water stop before my destination I drink, fill my other bottles from the BeFree, and refill the BeFree. This gives me 3l for cooking and drinking overnight.

About 1/3 of the way up I came to this. I put my spikes on and continued after drinking and enjoying the coolness for a while.



After maybe another 1/4 mile I had to switch to the last-minute addition I mentioned earlier.



I wore these for maybe another 1/2 mile, until the trail started getting more sun and the snow was mostly melted. Now it was boggy and muddy with BILLIONS of black flies. Hundreds of them were swarming around my head, flying into my ears, eyes, mouth, and nostrils. They weren’t biting, which I was thankful for because they hurt, form a small pustule, and start to itch. If you’ve never experienced them consider yourself fortunate! There’s really nothing as awful as black flies, even mosquitoes are welcome by comparison. Of course, black fly and mosquito seasons overlap here. I won’t even get into deer flies right now.

By this time I was on the final push to the summit so I just sucked it up (along with more than a few black flies) and kept my pace even though the trail was a lot steeper. It was still warm on the summit and not windy enough to keep the flies away, so I threw my tent body up as quickly as possible and cowered behind the mesh. I actually fell asleep right on the rocky ground and didn’t wake up until it was getting dark and chilly, maybe an hour later. The bugs were just about gone so I boiled some water to rehydrate my dinner (3 cheese chicken pasta that needed spices), finished the tent and blew up my air mattress, then put on my down jacket while I ate and enjoyed the breeze, moon, and stars. I guess it was around 2130 when I headed for the tent, and another hour before I fell asleep.

My knee woke me up often, when it got sore from being in the same position for a while. My air mattress is only 3” thick so there’s not really enough cushion to support it in the most comfortable position. But I still woke up rested, unfortunately I slept too long and the sun was well off the horizon. The bugs were awake too, not too bad on the summit but I’m sure they were just letting me come down to them. Well, I had a surprise for them! I boiled water for my oatmeal, packed up, ate, and headed down.

My route down.

[Linked Image]

I normally go up the mountain this way, the shortcut is a very narrow footpath that knocks 0.6 mile off and is actually a fun climb. Very steep, though, if you can read a topographic map it’s obvious. I normally don’t go down this way because of how steep it is, but no way was I going back through those boggy bug breeding grounds! So I put my spikes on and headed down. They were lifesavers on the snowy and icy sections of trail (not as much as I’d expected) but worked just as well on the wet dirt and moss. As I got lower there was more snow that often buried the trail, so I ended up bushwhacking by dead reckoning about 2/3 of the way down. I actually met up with the trail about 25 feet from where it rejoins the main trail.

I didn’t bother switching to snowshoes this time, instead trying to stay on the firmest snow and moving to the rocks and runoff when the snow/ice over the running water got too thin. I kept them on until I reached the spot where I’d put the spikes on the previous afternoon. It seemed like hardly any time passed from that point until I reached my Jeep, and I was really surprised I’d made such good time because I thought I’d been going very slowly on the steep, snowy shortcut and to help limit the pounding my knee took on the trail. I was DEAD, though, because it was already pretty warm and I’d only stopped to drink once on the descent. Being the first hike of the season and hotter than usual didn’t help, either. But I drank the bottle of water I had in the Jeep and headed home to shower. When I got there I was too tired to unpack and clean/air out everything, and just laid in the AC I’d left running while I was gone. The cats that had stayed inside or came in with me wanted some attention, too.

With the bugs as bad as they were I think I might not be doing my Memorial Day overnight on Boundary Bald this year. The knee held up well enough, I pushed it hard but it doesn’t feel any worse than before. So I think that for the next month or so I’ll concentrate on increasing my distance, there are a lot of flatter areas without much water so the bugs won’t be so bad.

Last edited by NH2112; 05/15/22 11:28 PM.

Phil

“I am free, no matter what rules surround me. If I find them tolerable, I tolerate them; if I find them too obnoxious, I break them. I am free because I know that I alone am morally responsible for everything I do.” — Robert A Heinlein
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#4599654 - 05/16/22 10:32 AM Re: My first hike of the season, May 13 -14 [Re: NH2112]  
Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 116,761
PanzerMeyer Online centaurian
Pro-Consul of Florida
PanzerMeyer  Online Centaurian
Pro-Consul of Florida
King Crimson - SimHQ's Top Poster

Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 116,761
Miami, FL USA
I can just feel my shortness of breath as I look at your photos. biggrin


“Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.”
#4599676 - 05/16/22 04:40 PM Re: My first hike of the season, May 13 -14 [Re: NH2112]  
Joined: Nov 2005
Posts: 2,301
RedToo Online smile
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RedToo  Online Smile
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Joined: Nov 2005
Posts: 2,301
Bolton UK
Nipped up Snowdon (3560ft) a couple of times last week, but I think I'd rather have done your walks!


My 'Waiting for Clod' thread: http://tinyurl.com/bqxc9ee

The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt. Bertrand Russell, 1872 - 1970.
Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one - the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts. C.S. Lewis, 1898 - 1963.
History is made up of people recovering from the last disaster. James S.A. Corey.

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