The usual cast of characters planned this 7 day trip to take place just before our traditional Labor Day weekend in the Second College Grant, for a full 10 days in the woods. On Saturday, three cars headed up, one each from Wayland, Nashua, and Hanover, arriving at the restaurant that isn't the Appalachian Trail Cafe in Millinocket just after 5:00 PM. The five of us grabbed dinner (everyone but me had something called "Black Gold", which wasn't universally praised) filled up our gas tanks, and headed into the park. We did much better than previous years when a few folks just barely made the 8:30 PM gate closure time. The first night we had the bunkhouse at Roaring Brook, which is in much nicer condition than when I stayed there 13 years ago in the winter. This made it easy to rearrange packs, gear, food, etc and get a good night's sleep.
For our first full day in the park we decided to hike up North Brother, the only 4000 footer in the park that most of us didn't have. We weren't sure if we'd do the whole loop, but we'd play it by ear. Since we had to move to a campsite that night, we decided to set up our tents in the morning while we had daylight. It turned out to be a wise decision. We left Roaring Brook around 11:00 in Ed's truck and headed for the trailhead, which took about an hour on the slow, bumpy roads of the park. Just after noon we put our packs on and started up the Marston trail. The weather was grey and we expected some rain during the day. Sure enough, as we approached a nice mountain lake the skies opened up and we got a nice drenching rain which actually felt quite refreshing at the time. We ran into a few more sprinkles as we climbed, before reaching the trail junction for North Brother.
As we climbed to the summit, the wind and mist got worse, and visibility dropped dramatically. But, by the time we there most of the clouds had blown off and we could see some tantalizing views of Katahdin, Northwest Basin, Traveler, and Mt Doubletop, and we rejoiced. As we ate lunch we watched a nasty looking band of clouds come approach. Just before it arrived we packed up and headed down, getting caught in another shower, this time a bit cold and nasty. Back at the trail junction the clouds had again blown over and we could see views of North Brother and even the Knife Edge through the trees. We decided to finish the loop and off we went. As we reached the trail junction for South Brother the clouds again threatened but following our muse we pushed on for the summit. Sure enough, the skies opened up again, but soon stopped. Allison saw a beautiful mushroom and we must have spent five minutes getting the perfect picture. As we approached the summit through the mossy firs things started to clear off.
The clouds and sun made for some spectacular and dramatic scenery. Now we had more views of Katahdin, North Brother, Coe, and the lakes to the west of the park. We gazed at Katahdin, our goal for tomorrow, and played around a bit. It was around 5:20, and we still had 4 miles and one more summit ahead of us, so we didn't stay as long as we wanted. The summit of Mt Coe looked quite large though the trees, but the climb turned out to be not that bad. When we got to the top (this time no rain) all the clouds had cleared off Katahdin and we looked over the Klondike, an impenetrable mess of scrub and swamp between us and peak. We could also see both Brothers, now clear and calm. It was now 6:30 so we only stopped a few minutes to eat a bit and drink some water before heading down. We soon hit the slide, which caught me a bit off guard, but the others seemed to enjoy the change of terrain. The descent was slow but steady, and we eventually hit dirt after a long trip down the rock, which was we in places. We hit the trailhead at 8:00, and although we never used our headlamps it was real close.
We were famished, and after popping our Ibuprofin we ate all the remaining gorp and the Smartfood Ed had fortunately left in the car. The drive back to Roaring Brook took another hour, but by then Ching and Andrew were waiting for us with dinner prepared. We snarfed up the chicken curry and made plans for the next day, a trip up Katahdin, and then crashed.Back Forward
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