|Hiking Trail Conditions Report|
||North Brother, Fort Mountain, South Brother, Mt. Coe, ME|
||Marston Trail, bushwhack, South Brother Spur|
|Date of Hike:
||Monday, March 6, 2017|
|Parking/Access Road Notes:
||Parked at Williams Pond Road, around mile marker 2.5 (off mile marker 35/Telos Road, off mile marker 28/Golden Road). Room for several cars. |
||Snow/Ice - Frozen Granular |
||Light Traction, Traction, Ice Axe |
|Water Crossing Notes:
||Bridged or frozen |
|Trail Maintenance Notes:
||There will need to be some, yes indeed :) |
||Sadly, no dogs allowed :( |
|Lost and Found:
||tl;dr: Crampons - highly recommended; ice axe - very handy; eye protection- highly recommended; snowshoes - got a ride on the pack and got stuck in a lot of spruce. 21 miles, 5050 feet, 14 hours, stayed 2 nights at the brand new Nesowadnehunk Bunkhouse.|
Saturday: Drove 300 miles from home to Ruthies Hotel Terrace, checked in, had a few beers, and dinner. Watched the Bruins, fell asleep. Got up, ate breakfast and drove to the Golden Road. Went over Abol Bridge for another 9 miles to Mile Marker 28+ where we turned right on Telos Road. Followed this to Mile Mark 35 where we turned onto Williams Pond Road. In some winters, winter parking is here, but not this year. Drove another 2.5 miles to where the road gets crappy, and parked next to a lone vehicle. Here begins the 3.6 mile sled haul to Nesowadnehunk Campground. While there were occasional bare spots and rocks poking through, the coverage was good, and we got to Nesowadnehunk in about 75 minutes.
We moved our stuff into one half of the brand new, 8-person bunkhouse. There were coals in the stove, and we filled it up. Being brand new and not drafty, it was very quickly toasty. We wandered around as the sun was going down before we made dinner and wondered if the other 4 people who'd booked the place would show. Two people did show up, but they were only day-hiking the four peaks (28 mile day hike) and wished to come in and warm up. Got some good beta from them and we were encouraged that there would be a trace of a route to follow. They told us snowshoes weren't necessary as the entire park was boiler plate. Turns out they were right, be we brought them to be cautious, concerned that it might warm up and soften the snow.
At 5:30 AM Monday, we set out with the outdoor thermometer reading -10. Forecast was stellar - highs in the mid 20s, no clouds, winds becoming light and variable. Took the Tote Road (aka Main Street) to Slide Dam picnic area and bushwhacked up a flooded creek to pick up the Marston Trail. Up to the pond, and a bit beyond, going was fantastic. Watch out for an "elbow" reroute (unblazed) that avoids a very steep pitch. We took it, as it was the safer way up, but it could be confusing. As the trail flattens out, the blowdowns, bendovers and just general tops of buried trees slow travel to under 1 mile per hour. This continued, as we had been warned, until treeline on North Brother. At treeline, the microspikes went away and the crampons came out. It wasn't quite warm nor was the wind light and variable, but it wasn't facemasks and goggle weather either.
In a strange twist, the route over to Fort was the easiest, least sprucey segment of the day. In fact, it took a bit over half an hour each way. The boilerplate surface held our weight without issue, although even the crampons and ice axe had a difficult time penetrating it. The wind on Fort was light and variable and the sun was warm and we had an extended break. On the return, we skirted west of the summit, sticking to snow fields, to save the crampon points. Going down through the mess of trees was easier (as I had cut a few of the nastier ones on the way up.) We found, also as promised, the going to South Brother to be much easier, including the spur, which had all the gaps in the giant rocks filled in. We summited South Brother and again found the wind light and variable. I was comfortable for several minutes in short sleeves :)
No stopping now... we continued on to Coe. Things were challenging here, with continued boilerplate surface conditions, this time with 30-40 degree side hilling to add to the excitement. The ice axe was handy, although not strictly required, but there would definitely be some tree hugging without it. The bendover/blowdowns made another appearance as we climbed out of the col to the summit of Coe. It was about 3:30 at this point, but the sun was still warm, and the western facing snow had softened slightly (but only slightly.) We turned around and returned to the Marston Trail in only 65 minutes. We set out trying to get through the spruce and below the pond before we lost daylight.
As we descended, we watch the sun go down behind Double Top. The day could not have been any nicer, really. We got a good way beyond the pond before the headlamps came out. Once back on the tote road, I turned mine off and lagged a bit behind, enjoying the moonlit walk back to the cabin. The other 4 folks had shown up, brought a ton of food to share, and had the stove cranked to heat the cabin to 75+. 14 hours worth of hiking and 4 NEHH peaks earned us a few celebratory beers with our dinner. Tuesday morning, we hiked out under a light snowfall, drove to Bangor for lunch, and then headed home.
||Tim Lucia |
Disclaimer: Reports are not verified - conditions may vary. Use at own risk. Always be prepared when hiking. Observe all signs. Trail conditions reports are not substitutes for weather reports or common sense.