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 North Brother, ME (NE 4,000 Footer #67)- 7/25/2016 
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 North Brother, ME (NE 4,000 Footer #67)- 7/25/2016
Some of you may remember that I did a solo trip to Baxter State Park last month to attempt to finish the NE 4,000 footers. On that trip, I tried to hike North Brother, but ended up turning back due to absolute crap trail and weather conditions. Flooding, raging brook crossings, running water down the trail, rain, fog, cold, the whole nine yards. Not how I wanted to remember it. Turned back 0.9 from the top and hiked Hamlin Peak the next day, in effect leaving North Brother for my finish, which I would have to go back for in a month.

Link to TR for that trip: viewtopic.php?f=14&t=9286

For the next month after that trip, I couldn't help but think, "Did I make the right decision?" I knew conditions were slop, but I was kicking myself in the teeth for turning back after driving so far. Shortly afterward, I took July 25th and 26th off from work to give N. Brother another try. I invited a slew of friends, but in the end, my two best hiking buddies, Chad and Riley, joined me.

Early on the morning of the 25th, I picked up Chad at 3:15 AM, then we got Riley at 3:30. Soon after, we hit the road and made our way to Baxter State Park, via NH 101 and I-95, stopping at the Kennebunk North service plaza and Tim Hortons in Newport along the way. Upon rolling into Millinocket, we stopped at Circle K for supplies and fuel, then drove to the Togue Pond gatehouse. Paid the fee, chatted with the gate attendant for a few, then headed to a spot all too familiar, the Marston Trail Head. When we got there, the skies were mostly clear, with mild temps and a killer view of Doubletop Mountain, which I could barely make out on the previous trip. After gearing up and locking up, we started the hike. Official departure time: 9:57 AM.

Since the trail details for the first 3.6 miles are in the old TR, I'll spare you them. I will say, though, that the trail for almost all of its length was bone dry, and all the brook crossings were very low and easily rock hoppable. When we got to the pond outlet crossing, what was completely flooded the first time was pretty much a puddle and easily bypassed. Smooth sailing so far, with good conditions and fun conversation with my buds.

We started gaining the ridge, gently then steeply, then leveled out and made the left hand turn to the section that was formerly a brook bed. Not the case today- a little eroded in places, but bone dry! The blowdown from last time was also cleared. We made a swift climb then gentle drop to the upper junction with the Mt. Coe Trail. It was here that I turned back on my previous attempt. No rain, fog, standing water, or yuck, so we were in it to win it! After regrouping, we continued to the summit on the last 0.9 mile of the Marston Trail.

The trail dipped down a bit, then passed through a somewhat wet level area, then made a gentle but progressively steeper ascent to treeline. The tough part wasn't the grade, but how narrow the corridor was and how eroded the footbed was! Not gonna lie, it was kind of annoying, but looking back, I would've been utterly miserable (as well as a fool) if I hiked this section under the sloppy conditions last time.

Eventually, we popped above the trees and were greeted with panoramic views of western Baxter State Park and into the Greenville area. The best views were yet to come, so we continued onward. The summit sign soon popped into view, so we chugged up, and soon there was no more mountain to climb. I had reached the top of my 67th New England 4,000 footer. (Oh yea, this was Chad and Riley's first mountain and hike in Maine, too.)

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Victory!

There was a cool breeze on the top, with mild temps and plenty of places to kick back. The highlight, though, was that the views from the top were absolutely stunning! Mountains upon mountains, lakes upon lakes, all for miles in all directions. All this, plus the company and encouragement of two of my best hiking buddies, made for one of the best feelings I've experienced, both on the trail and in life in general. After celebrating, we kicked back on the summit and ate some lunch, explored the rocks and crevices around the top, and took it all in. About an hour later, we met two NETC posters who were doing the NEHH. Chatted with them for a solid 10 minutes, and then parted ways. At this point, we still had to go back into town to re-supply and set up camp, so we headed down after a few last looks. Got back to the trailhead at 3:53 PM, almost 6 hours after starting. Now that I was back at the car, it was official- I became an NE67 finisher. The peak that I wanted to forget became the peak I'd never forget.

We drove into Millinocket for some supplies and food, then headed to the Wilderness Edge Campground to secure a site, then we drove in and set up camp. First thing after setting up was a dip in the nice and warm camp swimming pool, which felt like absolute heaven. Chad, Riley, and I all jumped in without any hesitation and had a blast. After our swim, we went back to camp to kick back for the rest of the day. I started a fire and carved some sticks to roast marshmallows. Riley took his guitar out of the car and played some tunes, and Chad took his Frisbee out and we tossed it back and forth for a while. In addition to roasting marshmallows, we roasted hot dogs, and we wolfed all of them down like nothing. Guitar music, marshmallows, hot dogs Frisbee, an open fire, a crisp summer evening, and the company of good friends made for a hell of a post-hike (and post-finish) celebration. We turned in around 9:30, then woke up early, packed up camp (we all were scheduled early shifts on Wed.), and drove back to Manchester.

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Aside from sleeping in my car for part of the night due to rain, everything about this finish was awesome. The weather, the views, the trail conditions, the people I went with, and the post-hike celebration at camp, it was all incredible. I was unsure if turning back the first time was the right call, but after yesterday, I believe 100% without a single doubt that I made the right call. NONE of what happened yesterday wouldn't have today if I kept going on a month earlier. My 48 finish was nothing like this either. Quite the opposite, actually. This will be a day that will be engrained in my memories for the rest of my life.

Roundtrip distance was 9 miles with 3,100 ft. of elevation gain, and it took a little less than 5 hours not including our summit break.

Here's the video recap from my 67 finish: https://youtu.be/kUwKyTXkBM0

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NH4K: 48/48 (Completed 10/4/2014)
NE67: 67/67 (Completed 7/25/2016)
NE115: 74/115
NEFF: 31/50
NEHH: 75/100


Tue Jul 26, 2016 3:46 pm
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 Re: North Brother, ME (NE 4,000 Footer #67)- 7/25/2016
Awesome! Glad it worked out in the end... you got your views and a much better experience overall. Congrats.


Tue Jul 26, 2016 4:43 pm
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 Re: North Brother, ME (NE 4,000 Footer #67)- 7/25/2016
Congrats Spencer. :beer: Looks like your waiting payed off. So, NEHH here I come? 8)

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Tue Jul 26, 2016 5:10 pm
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 Re: North Brother, ME (NE 4,000 Footer #67)- 7/25/2016
Congrats Spencer!!!!! WooHoo!!!! :beer:

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Tue Jul 26, 2016 7:16 pm
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 Re: North Brother, ME (NE 4,000 Footer #67)- 7/25/2016
Patience paid off. Hiking is supposed to be enjoyable and memorable, and it sounds like this trip was. Way to finish the list in style! :beer:


Tue Jul 26, 2016 7:39 pm
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 Re: North Brother, ME (NE 4,000 Footer #67)- 7/25/2016
Great report, and congratulations! Glad you had a memorable (in the right way) finishing hike.


Tue Jul 26, 2016 9:30 pm
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 Re: North Brother, ME (NE 4,000 Footer #67)- 7/25/2016
WOWEEEEEEE! That's great! A good time had by all (did they go on some of your winter 4k's?).


Tue Jul 26, 2016 11:05 pm
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 Re: North Brother, ME (NE 4,000 Footer #67)- 7/25/2016
Awesome man. Sounds like you had a great time with your friends on a great day. :beer:

What's next? The 111? The hundred highest?


Wed Jul 27, 2016 6:06 am
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 Re: North Brother, ME (NE 4,000 Footer #67)- 7/25/2016
Thank you all for the congrats!

Kris: This was probably the most fun hiking trip I've ever had. Gonna be hard to have a finish of another list like this!

Joe: Ehhhh... might do some 100 Highest peaks here and there, but I have no immediate plans to finish that one. If I do end up doing the remaining 25, I'd like to hike in from Zec-Louise Gosford and finish on Boundary Peak.

Chuck/Cheryl: That's what I was saying for the first few minutes I was up there. It felt great to stand on top of such an awesome summit for my last one.

GG: This is the trip I'll suddenly think back on when I'm 60 :wink: . Finished the 67 in style for sure!

hophiker: Tried to write this report very well, since it recapped my finish. Didn't want it to be "hum-drum", so to speak.

Beckie & Prema: They never went on any of my winter 4Ks (started hiking with them within the last few months), but an old community college friend of mine did hike up Abraham in VT with me in March 2015. Besides that and North Brother, the VT and ME peaks were a solo effort.

Peter: Not sure what's up next in terms of a list. Might take a gap from lists and do some "catching up" on hikes I've wanted to do but put aside, like the Baldfaces and Chocorua. Also might do a bit of WM redlining. I really want to get back to the 'Daks, so I might do some of the Northeast 115 peaks here and there, particularly Giant/Rocky Peak Ridge, Cascade/Porter, and Algonquin/Iroquois ect. Even though I have 47 peaks left on the 115 as opposed to 25 left on the NEHH, I'd rather do the 115 should I dive into another quest. Much more scenic, as I have read and heard.

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NH4K: 48/48 (Completed 10/4/2014)
NE67: 67/67 (Completed 7/25/2016)
NE115: 74/115
NEFF: 31/50
NEHH: 75/100


Wed Jul 27, 2016 7:49 pm
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 Re: North Brother, ME (NE 4,000 Footer #67)- 7/25/2016
It's been said, but I'll say it again: congrats dude!

I think I vaguely remember when you started posting on this board, and I was well ahead of you on the NH48. Now I'm a couple years behind you (but, no doubt, I'm still coming)!


Thu Jul 28, 2016 1:54 pm
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 Re: North Brother, ME (NE 4,000 Footer #67)- 7/25/2016
Grindboy wrote:
It's been said, but I'll say it again: congrats dude!

I think I vaguely remember when you started posting on this board, and I was well ahead of you on the NH48. Now I'm a couple years behind you (but, no doubt, I'm still coming)!



Thanks, dude!

Hehehe... you'll catch up :wink: . And yea, I just noticed that my 5 year "anniversary" of joining this forum was a couple weeks ago. Can't believe I've been a member for 5 years :shock: ! That time flew by, and I've accomplished a lot in that time.

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NH4K: 48/48 (Completed 10/4/2014)
NE67: 67/67 (Completed 7/25/2016)
NE115: 74/115
NEFF: 31/50
NEHH: 75/100


Thu Jul 28, 2016 7:33 pm
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 Re: North Brother, ME (NE 4,000 Footer #67)- 7/25/2016
Congratulations! I'm planning to hike there too the second week of August while I'm in BSP, though I still have a ways to go to finish the NE67.

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Fri Jul 29, 2016 10:11 am
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 Re: North Brother, ME (NE 4,000 Footer #67)- 7/25/2016
BobC wrote:
Congratulations! I'm planning to hike there too the second week of August while I'm in BSP, though I still have a ways to go to finish the NE67.


Spencer didn't finish either :twisted:

Seriously, good job. See you in April.

Greg

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Fri Jul 29, 2016 5:16 pm
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