Trail Notes – August 21 (Andover, ME, Baldpate Mt. – east & west peaks)

So, here’s the situation. I had a cow today. Actually, I had two. 

They were very tasty. 

Breakfast definitely had a touch of the whimsical about it – the waffle iron turned out waffles in the shapes of barns, farmhouses, piggies, and cows. With blueberry sauce… irresistible! Plus there were homefries with onion, biscuits, bananas and cantaloupe, bacon that sadly was too crispy for my taste, and assorted other tasty things that added up to a stomach nearly too food-heavy to consider hiking. 

Nearly. But hike I did, and no slacking. I didn’t make the twelve miles I wanted, but I did get in over ten, so I will settle for that. At least I broke double digits. 

The climb out of Grafton Notch was surprisingly easy, good trail, if a bit overgrown; I was at the Baldpate Shelter about 2.3 miles in before I knew it. I took a break there, because immediately after, the trail starts a steep ascent to the west Baldpate peak.

This one surprised me – no, or very few, rock scrambles. The trail maintainers had gone to considerable trouble to put in rock steps almost all the way, and believe me, it was very much appreciated! This peak was not a difficult one to climb, and Ziptie was relieved. 

Once at the top, you can look across at the east peak, and easily pick out the bare granite domes you will be climbing next. I could even see the white blazes! In between the two peaks lay the usual boggy area, bridged with wooden boards. 

The east peak was all grippy granite, with good traction – thank goodness for that, because there were no trees or roots to hang onto most of the time. In fact, sometimes I could just walk up it like a sidewalk. But not very often, because the wind was blowing like crazy up there, and staying upright was chancy. It nearly blew my cap off twice, and I took it off just in case… then my hair was whipping around everywhere. Couldn’t win! For all of that, this wasn’t nearly as bad or terrifying as Speck was, or as I had expected, so that was good. Getting up and down the peaks took longer than expected, of course. Always does.

I reached the next shelter, Frye Brook, about 3:45, watered up and snacked, but had no plans to stay. Only 6 miles in and way too early to stop. Thanks to the Wannabes!, and the power of the Guthook app, I knew there were stealth camping spots both by the Andover road 4 miles further on, and by Surplus Pond, 6 miles further on. So I furthered on. 

Somehow, I wasn’t anticipating a mini-mountain in between – more steps! It slowed me down again, though most of the remaining 4 miles was a pleasant walk in the woods near the golden hour. I hit the Andover road at 6:15 or so,  and found an adequate, if somewhat uneven, camping spot right by the brook. The water is bubbling cheerfully about twenty feet away, very soothing and peaceful. I was seriously considering going back to one of the Andover hostels, because there’s a possibility of heavy rain tonight, but I will take my chances – I did not want to spend more money.

Dinner tonight was quick and hurried – a leftover biscuit and waffle, some cheese, some pepperoni. I was losing daylight. I will compensate with a large breakfast tomorrow before I move on. My food bag is hanging about 200 feet uptrail, well away from the tent; who knows what animals use the brook as their water source as well?

I am glad I didn’t slackpack today, even if there is an immovable rock under the small of my back. The ever versatile fleece jacket is serving as a pillow tonight.

I hike on!

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