Here’s what I got:
More birch, hobblebush and ferns that I could have imagined
Lots of views – I expected none
An almost bail turned positive
Big Bickford is not the grand-daddy of the restaurant chain, it’s a mountain. A 3k mountain to be specific. It’s located east of Garfield and south of Lafayette.
Big Bickford has been on my hit list for a while now. I’m been itching for a whack, and all indications were it was all hardwoods except for a thin spine at the summit. Most importantly, it’s a mere 0.7 miles off the Skookumchuck trail. I hit the trail at 8:30, with only two cars in the lot. I wasn’t feeling particularly cheery today, and made a slow time of it getting up the trail. There were two whack options, a logging road or at a point where the summit is closest to the trail. After slogging through the muddy trail, the forest road was quite evident (with a sign even…), and it was also evident it was too grown up to be of any use. I got to my second option where the trail is right on the bank of the Skookumchuck Brook, and saw woods that didn’t exactly look all that open. It was about 9:30.
So, up and in. And up it was. I got maybe about 75 steep feet from the trail, and my pants were already getting soaked. Again, the doubts. What am I doing here, maybe I should just go up Lafayette instead, on and on. I sat and thought for a while. Ok, 0.7 miles, that’s about 3500 feet. Big whoop. I’ve got rain pants, better to be hot than soaked. I’ve wanted this peak for a while. The sun poked out for a few seconds, and I had made my decision. There would be no bailing this time. I wouldn’t let my mind talk me out of what my body was perfectly capable of.
The rain pants made a world of difference. I was crashing through the brush not feeling anything except the drops of water on my shirt, which given the humidity and warmth, felt nice. And soon enough the woods opened right up to a sea of birch, ferns and hobblebush. It was like that almost the entire way to the summit. Unbelievably gorgeous. And as expected, signs of moose everywhere. I made good time through this, even with stopping and taking it all in often, although the downside of the ferns is not knowing what you’re stepping on. I kept checking my compass while sticking mostly to the myriad of herd trails throughout there. They’d jog off in some odd direction, but another heading the way I wanted to go could soon be found. I remember saying several times, “This is GREAT!”, feeling foolish at almost turning back.
The slope was easy in this section also. Eventually, I came to some moderate fir (a couple of bands) and I knew I must be getting near the top. A check of the altimeter showed this to be so. Cool. Things got slower picking my way through, and the slope got steep again as I knew it would, but in short order, the wonderful sight of sky as opposed to hill was ahead. Once on the summit, came the next issue, where’s the danged jar. I could see far in all directions and it wasn’t obvious what the highpoint was. I moved forward in the same direction I had come, and there it was. A one minute search yielded the jar of registery goodness. Yum! And it was only 10:30. Sweet. Breezed through the entries and saw some familiar names. The register goes back to 2000, and the latest entry was from May. One particularly amusing one was “Who left the roach?” For the record, said item was no longer in evidence. ?
The clouds were pretty much at the level of the summit, but lifted quickly while I was there, with occasional sunshine. Very, very nice surprise.
I then spotted some open sky off to the east. Huh? Views? Google Maps showed no hint of such a thing, and I’ve seen little beta on this peak. Well, let’s just go check that out. I found a blowdown patch where indeedy there were some views off to Garfield and the ridge. The clouds were still hovering over Garfield, but most of the mountain was displayed nicely. I looked further down and could make out more of the valley, so I strolled down further and found a very nice viewpoint. Lafayette would’ve probably been visible (certainly there’s a view almost to it if not), and again nice views of Garfield and the ridge.
Well, it was about 11:15 and time to go. Pretty much went back the same way, but I did catch another small viewpoint of Cannon, the hut on Lafayette, and what I think was Eagle Cliff. Oh, does this good stuff ever end? Well, yes. Thanks to the ferns, I did manage to get my foot stuck in a rock crevice and fell, banging my shin. Not good when you’re solo whacking. A little slower now and all was well. Made the trail in 45 minutes, and was out at 12:40. Another nice short day. Good to be back and have some more whacking experience under my belt.