11-10-16 Saddleback and The Horn
Another Thursday, another trip up the Maine Turnpike. VROOOOM! A purposeful wake up at 5:30 AM for a 5 hourish drive North towards the Maine 4ks. Head up the Turnpike to exit 75 go for a bit hang a left and drive for another hour. Hang another left and drive some more. I haven't done a single one so onward we go. Some fun roads here. One little crest in the highway drops quickly and sent my stomach up towards my head. Derek was feeling a touch under the weather so we decided a short hike of 7 miles Up Saddleback, over to The Horn and back up and over back to my car. Speaking of parking. the lot here is big enough to land a Dreamliner here.
From the lodge the hike doesn't look bad at all. The perspective makes it look like a walk in the park
Now I have only gone down one ski trail: Polecat, down Wildcat. This was the first time i have willingly gone up one. The upside to ski trails is they constantly have views.
The other "upside" to them is that they are steep! Derek does not take a liking to going up these. Im pretty sure he cursed every step he took up this one. Especially since this was his second time up it!
I mean it did get us to treeline pretty quickly. I didn't think it was soooo bad. Just not great. A side not: we met the only Grey Jays on the planet that couldn't care less about food. They flew about for sure, but didn't care. I even shook a little baggie of peanuts and there were no signs of care. No pics of them today.
before the final push Derek layered up in preparation for what was to come. I still felt fine in my base layers so I pressed on. This is where Winter mentality should change. Because I didn't keep my warmth going, I got pretty cold at the summit with the blowing wind. Even after I layered up after the wind started buffeting us, my fingers got numb pretty quickly. They also took a long time to warm up. This was a good lesson to learn early on in the season. They didn't get frosttnip numb, just that "hey you should be paying attention" numb.
When you peek above the trees look to the left and you can see the OG leader of the free world and friends.
Although this does look like the summit, when you get to the sign, you realize it is not.
I'm not sure what was easier, Camels Hump or this. But its a darned easy 4k. The bang for the buck on this one is pretty Legit.
Derek gives this one the thumbs up!
You could see a few flakes here and there fly about. Any snow up here was more or less rime ice unless something was in the shadows. One plus side to the ice crystals in the air was a sweet halo around the sun. This is the second time I've seen a complete one. The first one that I was able to capture.
The horn and a bunch of Main high peaks in the not so far distance.
We didn't stay too long due to the winds and temps near freezing up there. And well the hike started at 11am so we should be moving along. The (pretty deep)col dips between small wooded areas and broad ledges. It's no knifes edge Franconia Ridge but it gets the job done. Leisurely hiking nothing death defying here. There was some Ice, however the spikes weren't brought out of the pack. Some careful leg work got us around the tricky parts.
Take note of an interesting alternative to this hike. The Berry Picker's trail. Takes you up to the Col between then two peaks for an easy 1480 feet of gain to get to the good stuff. Certainly more interesting than a ski trail. Click on the picture to zoom in and read the sign for more details.
The climb up The Horn was more of the same as what you go down on Saddleback. Gorgeous ledges and stunted trees.
And now while writing this i get the Saddleback name. It looks like a saddle with the two humps. Love it when your brain just "gets" something
On The horn we both finally sat down out of the wind and basked in the views of Maine's tallest. Just like in the Daks at first, I had no idea what I was looking at. Sugarloaf was Easy with it's big radio antennae. (TOS (Top of Sugarloaf) "The Mountain of Rock!"(best radio station in Maine)) Plans are being laid out to visit the rest of the bunch perhaps soon. depending on how far my Eclipse will get me to them.
Not too long after we left off back to the car wondering if sunset would be seen at the top of Saddleback or back at the car. Back up on Saddleback the sunset looked like it would have been obscured by the clouds. So we took a few parting shots and headed down. Of note, I left my heavier layers on going up Saddleback (minus my hat) and low and behold. I needed less clothing to stay warm after keeping myself warm beforehand. Lesson learned for the day.
They need to make a trail go back down towards the Ski area from here to make a nice loop.
one last good look
The sky starts to evolve
As the sun makes its transition towards the night. we headed down thinking we were beaten again by the clouds.
We should have stayed at the top. The Fusion reactor in the sky ended up presiding over the landscape. Red and purples filled the heavens.
So my first day in the Main high peaks region was fun filled. 10 hours of driving for 3.4 miles of alpine hiking. 2 New peaks, and a peak into a new area, and a beautiful sunset. The efficiency ratio was exceeded. Heck We even got a good nights sleep for once on both sides of the hike. I even got to have a shower when I got home at 10 PM. The earliest in a long while. These four or five hour drives get easier every time. Can't wait for the next.