The discussion on what to hit this week was a short one, with a trailed hike taking prominence due to expected spring conditions. With so few left, Terrace rose front and center. Joe opted for skiing, which in the end, I think he got the better deal. Bob I think was being kind, giving me a sympathy bail. So it was Brian, Greg and me.
York Pond Road was in great shape except for a few icy patches and we were able to park right at the York Pond trailhead. The trout pen was full of good sized yummy treats, and I amused myself with watching them go nuts as soon as I walked up to the fence. Sorry no food, guys. Come see me soon, though.
The day started fantastic, with a nice solid base and barebooting to start. After somehow staying dry crossing the bridge with a monorail from hell, we got to the junction of Bunnell Notch and continued on the York Pond Trail with next to no signs of activity by humans. The moose, however, made good use of the trail, postholing all over the place. They obviously have NO regard for the hikers that must follow them with their selfish actions. This should be the subject of endless posts and arguments.
The water crossings were fairly straightforward, and soon the shoes went on two by two. We could feel the snow softening on this bright and increasingly warm day. It was a base layer day. Joy! Elation! (Enjoy it while you can.) I love the York Pond Trail with nice grades and a variety of things to look at, the time just flies by getting to the junction with the Kilkenny Ridge Trail. The woods are beautifully open, and I had some trouble keeping to the trail in some spots but nothing major. A break at the junction, and we could see Terrace in our face.
We could see at least a very slight indentation on the York Pond Trail, but nothing going to Terrace on the KRT. I seem to remember someone did the Weeks this winter. Well, the woods heading up to Terrace are wide, wide open, and trail finding was near impossible for the longest time. Wide open woods are a joy for whacking, they suck for trail finding.
Not knowing what laid ahead, I used the GPS to try to stay close to it, but rarely saw any blazes until we got near the top where a corridor was occasionally seen. The snow was now getting really soft. The trail, to its credit, does a lot of slabbing to avoid the steep slopes on this side of the mountain. Unfortunately, in snow and warm conditions, this made it a struggle to keep from falling downhill. Shades of the Livermore Trail last week. Let the cursing level increase from sailor to longshoreman.
Finally, I decided to cut the V of the spur to the summit, and just whacked straight up to the ridge. Coming out just below the summit, a quick hike brought me to some really nice views south of the Presis with Weeks in front. 50 feet to the east of the summit gave wide open views to Maine. Very nice on a stellar day. Name That Peak was in full action, with heavy points to Brian. We saw the Black Crescents with logged out areas nearly to the top. Oh yeah. Of course, wanting some north views, I had to go and climb a birch. Of course, being lazy, I left my shoes on. Tsk tsk. Of couse, being stupid, 50 feet west of that, there was an open view from the ground. Argh. The idea of redlining to Bunnell Notch was told to go someplace warm and smelling of sulphur.
Brian came up with the brilliant idea of just whacking straight down to a bend in the YPT on a drainage. Holy hand grenades, why not? We might as well have been whacking on the trail, the snow wouldn't be really packed from the trip up, the woods were wide open the entire way and it cut out a fair bit of distance. I volunteered to lead after punching in a waypoint to grab a bearing, set my compass, and went straight off the summit. Brian asked if we should backtrack. “Nahhhh!” says I. It didn't look that steep, and it wasn't. Unless there's lots of soft snow. Intentional and unintentional butt sliding. Momentum causing legs to sink up to the knees and then trouble pulling them out with all the wet snow on top of the shoes. Sigh. Who lets me lead these things? I was pleasantly surprised at how fast we lost 1000 feet though. :) Yeah, that's the ticket.
The slope finally mellowed with better going, we crossed our tracks coming in, and then came right to the desired drainage, where I could just really go into terrain mode. Just follow the drainage. We avoided some PUDs, and I quickly dropped into the drainage to avoid a really steep spot. This was not good going with deeper snow, still steep and lots of saplings. I quickly got out of that before there was a revolt and I found myself stuck upside down in the snow and keyless, so I kept right of it on good terrain. Of course, as we got lower, the snow got worse. We were all sinking from time to time, but none worse than poor Brian. He had his MSR's with tails, and the front of them kept nose-diving into the snow, bending the front, which only made it worse. He was now officially having A Miserable Time, and I was hoping maybe the trail might provide some level of better support.
We came out a little above the target as I stayed on a contour to avoid dropping too much, and the trail was no better. Brian kept behind us as Greg and I tried to pack down some foot steps, but it was fairly futile. Brian contemplated all kinds of violence he could take out on his shoes. I'll leave it to him to tell his Evil Plan. I finally offered to give Brian my shoes ¾ of a mile from the trailhead, which I really should've done earlier, but given we were so close, he just stuck it out. The walk from the Bunnell Notch junction to the car seemed to take forever with the cars tantalizingly is sight. There was a horrible creature seen along the way.
In the lot, Brian took off his shoes and slammed them down on the road. I wish I was ready with the camera. The fish probably all sprouted legs and scurried away to Maine.
There was only one therapy available. Mr. Pizza. I asked for a italian sausage sub, and got an italian sub instead. I'm easy going about that kind of stuff, and it was the best mistake ever. Even after a bowl of chili, I nearly destroyed that sandwich, just the way I like it with vinegarette dressing on it. Even the PBR's tasted excellent. To my credit, I only had to stop at the Sanbornton rest area.
So, a beautiful day in a beautiful area with beautiful views which was detracted from by dratted snow conditions. I was told I must provide a written statement of snow-free conditions for the next whack. I laughed thinking anyone would trust even that from me.