|Hiking Trail Conditions Report|
||Elephant Mountain, ME|
||Herd path, bushwhack|
|Date of Hike:
||Saturday, August 3, 2019|
|Parking/Access Road Notes:
||Elephant Mountain road off South Arm Road in Andover. Dirt road with conditions ranging from rough to very rough. Stay left at first fork .4-.5 in and right at second fork about 1.1 in. Very rough area about .8 from second fork. The height difference between the mounds and the wash-out areas was over a foot, so didn't attempt passage with 7" clearance Subaru Outback. Parking just below here requires a 1-1.2mi roadwalk to the more traditional parking area with about a 400 elevation gain. The road beyond the washout is actually in better shape than most of the rest of the road, so if you can navigate the washout you have smooth sailing. (There is no cell service in this area, so if you do need to call for help, you may have a very long wait.) |
||Dry Trail, Wet Trail, Mud - Minor/Avoidable |
|Water Crossing Notes:
||A few minor streams, boggy areas on lower part of trail; deeper, wetter spots can be avoided by careful route selection. |
|Trail Maintenance Notes:
||Not applicable as no maintained trail, however, there is a great deal of logging slash to navigate. |
||Depending on which route you take, there may or may not be any water sources beyond the first half-mile of "trail." Also I would think the section of slash might be dangerous. Some piles have a 3-5 foot drop to the ground if one should fall through. (This goes for humans, too.) |
||Many houseflies (unless there is a wilderness cousin) and a few deerflies in the wooded areas and some other various insects in the lower, particularly wet areas. |
|Lost and Found:
||Found a fairly new spatula and knife at the summit sign and a very worn elephant nose. I assume the spatula and knife have some sort of significance, so I left them.
||The aforementioned logging slash obliterates most of the "trail", using the col approach, once you enter the woods from the cairn at the landing. I assume this would be true for the more direct approach. I tried navigating through the path of least resistance on the ascent, which meant crisscrossing back and forth to avoid blowdown areas, thicker woods and difficult slash piles. I'm not sure that is the best strategy as that meant a lot more time in the slash. On the descent I tried to stick to the col track, and even a little left of it, and ran into a few areas with less slash, smaller and less deep piles, but still pretty significant amounts, particular;y when I needed to navigate back toward the track. I think this might be the best bet on the ascent as well.|
The lower part of this approach is very easy to follow. The upper part is also fairly clearly defined, but easy to lose in spots. There are some areas where there are four distinct paths going in different directions, all of which look worn to the same degree. In these cases, taking the path up was usually not the best choice due to running into thicker tress, both spruce and coniferous. There are some switchbacks and some thick brush on even the correct path. Going through the col on the descent, I had trouble picking up the path down.
I assume that the slash is going to remain and until an alternate herd path is established, this will probably be one of the more difficult Hundred Highest, instead of one of the easier ones. Recommend long pants and shirts so legs and arms don't get scraped if you lack mad slash hopping skills and fall through.
Maybe I need to explain how the slash is arranged. There are two basic piles. One is just a pile of small trees in a parallel manner - kind of like a bunch of blowdowns going in the same direction. The second is a pile of crisscrossed trunks and branches that are anywhere from 6 inches to 6 feet above the solid ground. If you can stay on the tree trunks, you are safe, but if you slip off, step on some weaker branches or miss altogether, one or both legs with go through to the ground or a lower trunk in the pile. Some of these have a trampoline effect, but I would not call this even Type II fun. You also use a lot of leg muscles that you don't normally use on a normal trail so you risk strains, pulls and fatigue.
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.