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2010 Backpacking

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Backpacking the Bigelow Range

At the end of summer, 2010, Steve fulfilled his wishes to visit the mountains of Maine and to experience backpacking. Scott, Kevin, and Phil thought nothing could be better than to introduce him to these delights.

For various reasons, our “chicks” couldn’t join us, so this turned out to be a guys’ trip.

Kevin researched the Bigelow Range hiking, Scott sent out a checklist, and we gathered at the Turner home in Massachusetts for a Sunday of intense preparation. Monday morning we finalized our backpacks early and set off for Maine.

We parked at an Appalachian Trail trailhead, hopeful that our gear would provide for us for the four days. As we set foot on the trail, we prayed for a safe, meaningful, and fun time.

heading up the lower part of the mountain

For the first night, we reached the Moose Falls tentsite at about 6 p.m. We found that dry summer weather had reduced the "falls" to little more than puddles, barely enough to get by. There was just time to cook freeze dried lasagna and (in near darkness) hang up our food supply to protect it. We failed to get it high enough to prevent bear depredations, but no actual problem ensued.

The next morning it was just one more steep mile up to the Myron Avery tentsite on the ridgeline of the Bigelow Range. Soon we left our heavy packs and explored east to Avery Peak and beyond.

Avery Peak

The air was warm and hazy all four days of the trip.

on Avery Peak

Flagstaff Lake to the north, and Little Bigelow Mountain to the east

After supper of beef strogonoff, we headed up to West Peak of Bigelow Mountain, missing sunset by a bit.

There followed the most memorable hours of the trip, as we lay on the rocky summit and watched the stars appear. Venus we saw right away, then Vega and Deneb, then the Big Dipper and the North Star, then the Milky Way emerged into its full glory. It was warm and windy, with no sign of the haze which obscured the mountains below by day. Venus set in the west and Jupiter rose in the east. Several aircraft, artificial satellites, and meteors added to the display.

Scott was awestruck as we began to return to our camp, as descending eastward he looked up and in one glance saw the wide arch of the Milky Way from horizon to horizon, together with a thousand glittering stars. At the south foot of the arch were a few dozen lights of the Sugarloaf Resort. It was reminiscent of those pictures of the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, except that its perspective gave a pure depiction of the transience of human activity.

The next day we traversed the heart of the Bigelow Range to Horns Pond. There were plenty of campsites available, and we pitched our tents at a group site that held both easily, and provided a good cooking area.

That evening we did our stargazing from the edge of the pond. It was not a 360° view, but again the fascination kept us up late. Soon after it was too dark to see, we heard a moose wander into the pond. A few other campers also visited the pond, who didn’t seem to expect to find four guys hanging out on a rock nearby.

taking in the view to the south, the next morning

revisiting the rock of stargazing

On the final day, Steve made this photographic record of some gnarly parts of the trail.

At a saddle along the ridge the foursome split up. The faster pair (Steve and Phil) continued west over the ridge's Cranberry Peak, while Kevin and Scott descended on the Appalachian Trail directly to the car. The latter pair heard a red-eyed vireo and saw several snakes.

The mountain goats Steve and Phil retained the camera for the following shots:

Cranberry Pond

looking east from the summit of Cranberry Peak to the Horns, where we had been the day before

Flagstaff Lake

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