Brian, 4th try. Joe and Greg, 3rd try. Me, 2nd try. Vose Spur. We were waiting for Sawyer River Road to open to cut 4 miles out of this hike, but 10 easy miles, and 2 tough and steep bushwhack miles. The road was all repaired and dry, but the stupid gate was locked. Argh.
It was a quick and easy trip to the whacking point. We saw some monorail on the Signal Ridge Trail, but easily avoided. The Carrigan Notch Trail was dry. We got to the famed boulder, and I went ahead as I had beta that the herd path was beyond the bolder a short ways. Sure enough I found one, told the guys, but they went in the path at the boulder. More shouting back and forth, but they were one a path, I was one a path, there was three of them and one of me, so I headed over.
We were in nice hardwoods, and eventually hit the softwoods. Even these were open. Heck, even the one blowdown field was good going.
The only thing that slowed us down was flagging removal. A lot of it. Argh. It was (what I thought at the time) a steep climb to the ridge. Once on the ridge, we found a herd path what seemed like fairly low down. Human? Animal? Who knows. Who cares? The woods were nicely open and we got the occasional glimpse of Lowell and Signal Ridge.
I could hear the guys wallowing in some short-lived thick stuff, so I followed a herd path right and avoided it. We had no problem running into the talus field and got some nice views out of it.
We had a break, but the guys were antsy. I was antsy to keep my ass firmly planted on a rock and enjoy a cig. They went ahead, I finished, I plodded behind. Then it really, truly got steep.
I lost my footing in a thin layer of wet snow and started sliding. Fast. Fortunately a tree broke my fall (but not me) 20 feet later. Yoiks.
The snow cover closed in, and we finally made it to the plateau, with me lagging badly. There was about 4” up there at that point, but it was wet and going quickly. I trudged up to the summit, and took another long break. Greg thought about going down to the Carrigan col, I just wanted to backtrack. When you find good woods, I hate to experiment at that point. All of us threw on spikes, and carefully made the descent. We lost the tracks in the thick patch, and straight ahead looked to be straight down. I backtracked to my track, the forged left. We met again and amused ourselves throwing rocks at the talus field.
We ended up at our tracks going one way, and a better herd path going left. Yeah! Herd path! Dumb. That of course led us to steeper terrain. We'd break apart and reform, and finally Brian and I came across another line of flagging, which we removed it for the length it ran and continued down in blessedly relatively flat terrain. What we were following was the herd path I had originally started up. Actually glad we took the other one.
For once I wasn't dieing on the way out, which again went quick. The road walk was hell though. We were hot and in full sun. The car AC felt good. The pot stickers at the Woodstock Station were better.