Distance: 7.2 miles
Low Elevation: 1171 feet
High Elevation: 1812 feet
Elevation Gain: 864 feet
Elevation Loss: 864 feet
Start Location: Lincoln Woods
Finish Location: Rt. 112
Route: East Side Trail, Pine Island Trail, East Side Trail, bushwhack towards camp 8-B, East Side Trail, Lincoln Woods. From bridge east of Lincoln Woods along track to river and some wanderings in that area.
Hitchcock hates me, and how I made up for itWhile there were some nice memories of this bulk (W. Hitchcock ridge being one of them), this mountain has seemed to taken a dislike to me. Crap woods ascending north peak, though we stumbled on an old woods road that was pretty cool. The scappy descent off the main peak where Brian donated 3 liters of blood to the black flies. South peak and continuously moderate woods (thus continuously annoying). The repeat attempt at north's nice view with Greg, sadly with me running out of steam barely up the slope. Argh.
Son-in-law, aka the pickup truck provider, has yet to get his inspection sticker. From February. Thus I have found it difficult to pile 4x8 sheets of wood into my Mazda 3 to work on my latest hiking-averse project, aka, the garage, aka, the Man Cave, aka, the talk about this small town. The latter amuses me to no end, as it's only a 26x24 footer, not exactly Norm Abrahms' woodshop. So, weather looks like crap, again, for my weekend (Monday and Tuesday), screw it, I need to get out. Being a East Branch & Lincoln logging railroad buff, I decided that on a cool, rainy day camp 8-B would be a good thing to go nail down. Not terribly far for my out-of-shapeness, and I wanted to avoid icy trails. Too bad it's somewhere on the slopes of, dah-dah-dahhhhhh, Mt. Hitchcock. And it's easy to turn this mountain name into something vulgar now, isn't it?
The "A" and "B" camps are all located off the railroad lines, so they're more difficult to find. Fortunately for me, I had some strong indications where this one was located, so I didn't feel this would be a particularly challenging find. So, given the lack of mileage, and frankly, my lack of enthusiasm given the weather, I arrived at 9:30 at Lincoln Woods. It's a wonder I didn't suffer a heart attack at this sight.
That car? That's mine. And mine alone. I know, it's as incredulous as me writing a trip report. This was taken after about 20 minutes of trying to get my gear together. Only 10 minutes of cursing though. So rusty.
Off to what I'd describe as an annoyingly slushy start, but the good news is this was as much snow as I'd see today.
I got adventurous and walked out into the middle of the East Branch.
Well, no, I decided to drop down to the Pine Island Trail right at a beach. I can still see Brian and Greg laughing at my utter fear of trying to cross the Hancock Branch, so me anywhere over 0.0001 inches into the East Branch ain't happenin'. Either that or I'd dye the river brown. :oops:
I examined a series of old aerial photos of the area, and while I knew from previous research that there was an old road next a large stream there, I found another a couple days before today that switchbacked up further to the north. What wasn't clear was if this was the J.E. Henry era of road (thus camp 8-B), a Parker Young era when they logged out part of the west ridge of Hitchcock, or something newer from the USFS. I did suspect it was the same road Brian, Greg and I stumbled on earlier so I was curious to follow it nonetheless.
So I headed in further north than what I would have done otherwise, and wandered about trying to spy the road. This was supposed to be a leisurely day, after all (guffaw). Along the way, I came upon this appalling scene of winter bleakness.
Followed by these horrific woods.
Oh, the humanity.
I did indeed find a woods road, and as it turned out once I checked it out at home, it was the exact same one Brian, Greg and I found before. But where I expected it to switch back, it didn't. It could've been an error in how I overlaid the old photo, or not, but I was now getting too far off track of where I was heading, so I got a bearing to the road near the stream and straight-lined it to there. I came to a lovely gully that gave me a couple pucker moments in its wet slickness, ascended and came to the gully I recognized as the main drainage, with my waypoint still ahead. Oh what the hell, the road can't be down there? 'Twas. Just below me. Such a doubter, me.
Well, surely all will be well now! Except I noticed said road did not eventually go off to the left as the pictures said it should, but carried on at elevation. How dare you not obey the pictures! Well, a road in the right direction is a road, young hardwood saplings hardly slowing me. All that changes when turns to young softwood saplings, however.
"Workin' at the car wash, yeah! Work and work!" And work. And work. And... screw this. I had three options. Go back and find a nice way up, go down to the stream, or uncomfortably steep for about 135 degrees around me. Dang, I've been sucked into crap here. Again. Went with steep, finally found some decent grades, stopped and said screw this 0.4 miles from where I think the camp is. It was not so much about the 0.4 miles, but more about the total distance before I got back to a trail, wet glove liners, a soaked jacket, blah, blah, blah, boo hoo hoo. This mountain hates me.
So after a Snickers and 20 minutes of easy walking, I was back on trail and feeling better. Dammit! As the Eagles said, "Me, I'm already gone." I would say the highlight of the trip was the view from the East Side reroute that takes in the Scar Ridge slides, except for some reason I finally noticed the parking lot at Lincoln Woods takes in --- the Scar Ridge slides. Argh! OK, one that I got uniquely from the trail was the view of all 3 Scar peaks. Sigh.
Three cars in the lot now, woo hoo. Get me the **** out.
Wait, I remembered a clearing up the road in old photos that looked suspicious. I might salvage this day after all. Found parking, found a trail. Trail? Hmmm. Followed trail, looking suspiciously railroady, then definitely railroady as I neared the river. Hey, shut up, railroady is a word. It's my word. Tough boogers if you don't like it :P End of trail, whoa, concrete abutments! Wait, that means nothing, until I looked from a dry spot in the water back to where I was.
Log cribbing? Safe to say I found the spur line. Yessuh! Proceeded to wander all over the place, finding an oil can from the late 40's or early 50's (too late for the railroads), a gallon can of perhaps oil, but the print on it was impossible to read so it could've been from when they built the highway, but this, now this, has no place in highway construction.
One genuine, certified cooking pot. Look, there's no circles or arrows or a paragraph on the back of the photo explaining it, but trust me on this. And given my research and other signs I had seen in person, I was certain this was the site of Camp 4. So I'll claim this day as a success. Actually, getting out into the woods should be enough to claim a success. Oh, and as I predicted, the sun came out just as I was wrapping up my day. Had I slept in and gotten started at noon, this might've been a totally different TR. Or. Probably. Not. 8)