I've loathed doing Bear Mtn. in Bartlett. Blowdowns to the north, sections of crap woods to the west, I figured this would just be a PITA that had to be struggled with and call it done with. I had a couple of hints a western approach might work, so I conned Brian and Joe into giving it a go.
The woods started with sapling hardwoods, which were easy enough to navigate through. You can also see Joe texting to Becky "Brian and Mike are hungry. Afraid I might be lunch."
Higher up we hit a wide open mature softwood forest that pretty much went on forever.
We were able to skirt any thick areas, except we forgot to do that in one spot.
Seeing blue sky ahead, there was the joy of hitting the summit ridge after an easy trip up. We came upon a nice little viewpoint.
From there, we followed an abandoned trail quite easily to the summit, where we found more limited views, this time to the Willey Range area.
Wow, that was easy. I giggled thinking that finally, a plan actually worked. :) I was (overly and annoyingly) adamant about following the same route down. We had more to do and I didn't want any unpleasant surprises. Well, that plan didn't work out. Topography drew us off to the left, then the right, and we found thick nasty stuff. Everytime we tried to regain where we were, "easier" woods pushed us off in the wrong direction. Finally, we just decided to force, shove and curse our way through, where the rest of the way down was a piece of cake. No need to make things too easy, and now we know what's on either side of our route. :)
Next up Barlett Haystack. The plan was inquired about, which was simple. Full frontal assault in a bee line. Back into the sapling forest, we discovered our legs weren't as chipper as they were in the morning. It was a slow assault, escpecially on the last steep pitch, with ledges to get around. It was without any real trouble, and we finally came to the summit and a nice nearby view ledge. I forgot my camera for this leg (AGAIN! :x ). I really dug the ledge, but I perhaps hyped it up too much, as Brian and Joe weren't so enthralled. :oops:
Coming down, we got off track a bit, getting sucked into a small ravine, coming out below the car. I think we secretly felt the need to add some more distance in lieu of bad woods. At least we didn't try to whack Tremont and find ourselves on Barlett Haystack, like I had once heard about with one fellow. :D