Did you know that there are many lists, and these lists have mountains that you can climb? And then when you finish with one list, you can proceed to another list, that has MORE MOUNTAINS? Well after finishing the NH 48 4000 footers, I decided I needed more patches to put on my backpack, so the New England 67 it was!
Last weekend David and I put a big dent in my New England 67 list and knocked off 6 mountains in 2 days. Now I’m only 4 hikes (and 6 mountains) away from finishing, y’all! And I probably only need a few knee and ankle replacement surgeries! Do they do ankle replacement? ANYWAY, on Sunday we completed the South Crocker-Crocker-Redington hike, and on Monday it was the Abraham-Spaulding-Sugarloaf traverse.
South Crocker, Crocker, and Redington:
If you look at the description on the 4000 footers page, this hike is “only” 8.6 miles and you might think it wouldn’t take that much time or effort. YOU WOULD BE LYING. If you want to do South Crocker, Crocker, and Redington in one hike, you must go up, then down, then up, then down, then up, then down, then up, then down, then up, then down. THAT IS A LOT OF UP AND DOWN.
The hikes up South Crocker and Crocker are pretty straightforward so I won’t elaborate too much here. The only non-straightforward part is figuring out where the trail starts!
The 4000 footers site mentions a drive down Caribou Valley Rd and over some sketchy bridges to reach the start of your hike. Apparently the Powers That Be decided that you did not have a right to drive your car over said sketchy bridges, so as of September 2016 there is a gate before said sketchy bridges. The trailhead is a little bit down the road from the bridges, and is literally just a small rock cairn on the side of the road. There is one rock cairn on the left side of the road and one rock cairn on the right side. For the Crockers, you start hiking to the right. Apparently Maine is not big up into signage at their trailheads! I am very paranoid, so naturally, I made David download a GPS track and confirmed that we were going to the right place!
A GPS track is totally unnecessary for the Crockers, but boy howdy was I glad that we had it for Redington! Redington is the only mountain of the New England 67 that requires a “bushwhack”, but enough people have traipsed on over there in the last few years that there is a pretty obvious path. It is most definitely not a bushwhack. The problem is, there are many obvious trail-looking things back there, and none of them are marked (save some colored tape). Most will get you back to the parking lot, but maybe not in the time or distance you were anticipating. I would HIGHLY recommend downloading a GPS track for Redington. The day we were there, a man accidentally went down the mountain on a different trail and had half of us looking for him when his partner became distressed about losing him! (Don’t worry, everyone was found and reunited and had all body parts intact).
Abraham, Spaulding, and Sugarloaf:
If you want to do a traverse of these three mountains without a LOT of backtracking, you have several options:
- Have friends and do a car drop
- Have no friends but have money for the $80 hiker shuttle service (price quoted to me August 2016)
- Camp (you still have to backtrack, but it’s spread out!)
- Have no friends and no money but have David, who hikes with you from Abraham to Spaulding, then turns around and backtracks while you go forward to Sugarloaf, then picks you up at the Sugarloaf parking lot
GUESS WHICH OPTION I CHOSE.
We decided to start at Abraham and hike northbound, mostly because I was concerned about finding David on Rapid Stream Rd at the end of a southbound hike. The 4000 footers site says that the bridges on Rapid Stream Rd approaching the Abraham trailhead have been washed out and one must do some road walking and river fording to reach the trailhead. I am happy to report that as of September 2016, the bridges are repaired and one can drive to and park directly at the trailhead. The road is rocky but manageable, same as Caribou Valley Rd.
The Mt. Abraham trailhead has a sign and everything, so off we went. Using some complicated mathematical formulae, I calculated that on this hike, one must go up, then down, then up, then down, then up, then down. You might observe that this is less up and down than the Crockers hike, but what you might NOT know is that in order to go up both Spaulding and Sugarloaf, there is about 1000 feet of gain for EACH! This is after the ~3000 feet of gain to get up Abraham. THAT’S CRAZY! We guestimated that each of our hikes probably had about ~5000 feet of gain. PHEW!
The traverse was very straight-forward until I got to the top of Sugarloaf and had to decide which way to go down. I meandered down the more gently-sloping ski trails to the left, but many of the ski trails had not been mowed and there were some very impressively tall grasses and bushes growing in there. My descent down Sugarloaf was the most bushwhacking performed on this trip, until I decided to stop being dumb and follow a gravel road instead of literally getting lost in the weeds 😛
After two days of up and down, my 30-going-on-80 joints had had quite enough and I needed several days of recovery until I could get out of a chair without looking like I was struggling 🙂
Tips and tricks:
- GPS tracks are your friend
- Hiking poles are your friend
- Anti-inflammatories are your friend
- The 4000 footers website is your friend
- If you do these hikes in early September you will see ALL THE THRU HIKERS because most of each hike is on the AT, and ’tis the season for NOBO thru hikers.
- The towns in the Carrabassett Valley area are very small and the grocery/supply stores close early. Make sure you stock up the day before, or go to the Pines Market north of Eustis, which was the only place we could find that was open after 5pm.
- From the selection available to me at the time, it appears that there are only a few budget accommodations (~$70/night) between Eustis and Kingfield, so book early, y’all! Or you could camp or whatever, if you’re into that.