We started across the road at a very gentlemanly/ladylike time of 10, and were almost immediately greeted by mud, which persisted throughout the day. Some being hidden by fallen leaves, some in plain sight, and some posing as solid ground. I let Suzy take the lead, as I wasn't sure how fast she hiked, and I didn't want her to have to try and keep up with me. She set a good pace, nice and methodical, slow, even steps. Along the way, were passed by a girl and her husky, who was on her first hike since having surgery, they went up and back to West Peak. The dog looked to be doing awesome, especially since it was her first hike back out! Excellent conversation was had, the mileage flowed by, and after a fashion, we found ourselves on West Peak, the wind blasting through the trees around us.
Until this point, I'd been wearing a synthetic short sleeve with a long sleeve base layer over it, so I dug into my pack to get out my shell. It's a two year old Rab Exodus softshell that's served me well in some heinous conditions, though today it didn't like me. Upon pulling it out and putting it on, I began fumbling for the zipper pull, which I found on the wrong side, and then realized that it was bent and free floating on the right side of the zipper (not the left like it should have been... British). I was getting pretty cold at this point, and cursed myself for not packing my down jacket too. In the end, I got out my knife, popped the plastic bit off the top of the left side of the zipper, and was able to zip the jacket, though the zipper is messed up about halfway. Now to see if I can repair it (or have it repaired)... though I may just get a new shell, decisions, decisions.
|East Peak from near West Peak|
|North view from near West Peak|
After my wardrobe malfunction, we headed down into the col, where the winds continued to buffet us. The ledge sections here were very slick, and the mud especially deep and deceptive. The ladders were a nice touch, though slippery, and the bog bridging once in the col was just plain evil in its slipperiness. Ahead of us loomed the massive ledge complex on East Baldpate. The wind was at our back as we ascended the mostly dry ledges, and topped out on the summit plateau no worse for wear.
We soon reached the summit of East Baldpate, where we were greeted by a group of four ladies who said they'd come up from East B Hill Road in Andover, and were making a traverse down to Rt. 26. Sounds like an awesome day! After stopping briefly, Suzy had a snack (I wasn't hungry), and enduring the cold and wind, we sallied forth back down the ledges to the col. While on the summit, I had noticed off to the west, rain falling, and I made the recommendation to get down off the ledges before it hit. We did just that, and the rain, while brief, ended up making the ladies who we met on the summit cut their lunch break short. Carefully, we picked our way back up West Peak and then on down the trail. We leapfrogged the ladies a couple of times, then we took off down the spur trail to Baldpate Shelter, where we hung out in the sun for a while, relaxed, and ate.
After the sun went behind the clouds, it got chilly again, and we got moving down. Shortly after the upper junction with Table Rock Trail, we ran into two thru hikers (within a couple minutes of each other), and one had the tiniest trail dog I've ever seen. It looked to me like a mini Dachshund, and it apparently had come all the way from Georgia! So awesome. Slowly, through brief showers, and much mud, we made our way back to the parking lot, making the day a success.
In the lot, we ran into two of the four ladies from East Baldpate. Apparently, they had made a traverse from South Arm Road (not East B Hill Road), and had left the keys for their vehicle in the car on South Arm Road. We offered to give one of them a ride to their other car, but the other two had already set off up the road to hitchhike, about 15 minutes before we arrived. I said I didn't mind driving up the road a ways to see if I could find them and give them a ride, so we did just that. After driving 6 miles and having seen no one, we figured someone must have picked them up, and returned to the parking lot to tell them just that. I hope everything worked out for you ladies!
Lesson learned, always remember the keys. Thanks to Suzy for joining me for #62, and for a great day!