The AT from the CT border north


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  1. #1

    The AT from the CT border north

    Date(s) Hiked: April 19, 2008

    Trails(s) Hiked: Appalachian Trail and some connector whose name I don't know

    Total Distance: 12.9 miles

    Difficulty: easy

    Conditions: dry, sunny, felt hot, lots of blackflies

    Special Required Equipment: none

    Trip Report:
    Blackflies, sunburn, dehydration ... it felt like summer on this beautiful hike! I'll admit that I wish the trees were more leafed out, which would have ameliorated the latter two, but honestly I didn't care. It was simply wonderful to be out walking with friends in the woods on the bare ground with a small pack wearing shorts and a t-shirt.

    I had actually gotten up on time (the alarm clock read 4-something) but stopping at the Dunkin Donuts on the Pike was a bad idea. Never again will I make a morning stop at that rest area. After a miserable amount of time in line, my cup o' caffeine and I were back on the road, but there was no way, even at not-quite-legal velocities, for me to be on time. I clocked into the parking lot at Mom's Restaurant about 20 minutes late, and immediately we headed out to Jug End Road to begin the car spot.

    After stashing midpoint cars, we made the trip around on West Road and just across the Connecticut border found the parking lot. The road was indicated as closed, and the enormous concrete barrier did a good job of ensuring that. No simple boulders or chains here!

    I had never heard of the AMC Northwest Cabin, but in fact this was the access trail to the property, and what a cute little cabin it is. It seemed quite decadent, actually, with its modern extension to an original log structure, skylights, and very nice-looking fire pit. The area was signed as being old-growth forest, and while I wouldn't know it by looking at it, the trees were indeed huge.

    From here we had a bit of distance to go through lovely, open woods to get to the AT junction. Along the way we were educated by a member of the group about how the area had been used for charcoal back in Civil War times, pointing out one of the burn pits and even digging up a chunk.

    After turning northward on the AT and passing a backpacking group, we descended into Sages Ravine. This was a gorgeous stretch of trail along the brook, filled with rock ledges and cascades and even a bit of lingering snow and ice. We took our time through here, enjoying the moments.

    The climb out got us sweating, as we rose continuously up towards the top of Mt. Race. There was no relief from the sun and I was quickly going through my water. But it didn't take long before we had some evergreens to duck under, as well as the amazing lookout at Bear Brook Falls, near the relocated Laurel Ridge Campsite. This spot is quite the gem, and I can only imagine what it must be like to have stayed here prior to it being closed to camping. It's still an amazing spot to visit, though, and we took some time out on the ledges between the brook and nothing but a big drop-off and open view.

    Then it was back to the trail, climbing up to what was a terrific ridge walk. Much of the route is right along the east edge of the range, wide open with views every direction but west. We stopped for yummy cupcakes, split up at the Race/Everett Col as four of us descended, explored the tower foundations atop Mt. Everett, investigated the old high shelter just below the summit, and cruised through the wonderful stunted pine (?) woods along the top of Jug End before steeply dropping down back to the spotted car.

    At that point I started driving to a gathering at a friend's up north. Along the way, on rte 22 in New York, I suddenly passed a small brush fire on the side of the road. By the time I realized what it was, and that it was unattended, I found myself passing *another* one. I pulled right over, checked in my mirror and saw that someone had stopped at the first one, grabbed the remains of my jug of water, and went to see what I could do.

    It was a ring of fire around a blackened area, just on the far side of the drainage ditch, about 3' across with flames about 4" high. I figured this would not be a problem and started pouring my water. In the space of less than a minute, however, the ring of flames had reached the hillside, and with dry leaves and twigs above suddenly I had foot-high flames crackling and spreading scarily fast. I took the empty water jug and just started beating at the brush, breaking it up and knocking it back down towards the road, where I kicked at it, awkwardly since I was only wearing sandals.

    Somehow, this technique worked, and once I had reduced the fire to just smoldering embers, I ran back to my car to get my cooler, and poured a day's worth of icemelt over everything. With it seemingly out, I got back in the car and drove back to the first fire to see how my compatriot was doing. He'd had an easier time of it since the drainage ditch at that location actually had running water in it. Plus, he had a shovel. We talked about what had happened, and agreed that it was probably cigarettes that started it, and it was a close call because the entire hillside would have gone up in just a few minutes more. The property owners had seen the smoke and came by while we were talking. After going over everything, I refilled my jug from the ditch, gave one final dousing to back at the other spot, and got back on the road.

    Just a little excitement at the end of a great day. When I finally got to my destination in Vermont, the beer tasted really, really good.

    Here are my pictures from the hike. 12.9 miles, 8 hours, 2500' of elevation gain. Try out the my album's new "Google Map" feature while you're there.
    Skiing combines outdoor fun with knocking down trees with your face. - Dave Barry
    Waterville 11/30; Loon 12/7; Cannon 12/13, 1/17, 2/23; Sugarloaf 12/20, 21-22; Bretton Woods 1/3; Jay Peak 1/24-25; Heavenly 2/9; Squaw Valley 2/10-2/11; Wachusett 3/3; Sunday River 3/7-8

  2. #2
    Very Nice, you could have gone up from Route 41 too, put that would have added more elevation.
    Happy Trails, be safe & Good Luck
    Mike P.

  3. #3
    I wouldn't have minded more elevation if I'd had more water, and especially if we'd had leaves on the trees. I always forget how cooked one gets hiking in the 70s with no leaves yet ... gotta treat it as if it was an above-treeline traverse!
    Skiing combines outdoor fun with knocking down trees with your face. - Dave Barry
    Waterville 11/30; Loon 12/7; Cannon 12/13, 1/17, 2/23; Sugarloaf 12/20, 21-22; Bretton Woods 1/3; Jay Peak 1/24-25; Heavenly 2/9; Squaw Valley 2/10-2/11; Wachusett 3/3; Sunday River 3/7-8

  4. #4
    Especially that trip, even with leaves, not much help for a mile or so on Race, a 1/2 mile or so on Everett & the ledges near Jug End.

    This section has some of the best views while ridge walking south of Moosilauke & in the Northeast.
    Happy Trails, be safe & Good Luck
    Mike P.

  5. #5
    Awesome report! Nice pics and the Google Earth images are cool. Won't be hiking around here for another month or so.

    " Some failure in life is inevitable. It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all -- in which case, you fail by default,"

    To beat the grim reaper in life it's not about how long you live but how you live it.

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