Have you heard the term “Peak-Bagger”? Only recently have I heard that people who climb mountains have this attached to their name. Recently I climbed Mount Redington, a 4,000 foot mountain in Maine. For the past few summers a friend and I have hiked a mountain in Maine. Although Kevin is very physically fit, he is new at mountain climbing, but he’s adapted well, as you can see in the photo above. It is always more exciting for me to climb one I haven’t done before, so I chose Redington, the only one of two 4,000 mountains I had not yet summited in Maine. For Kevin, he would add two new ones on this climb, as we had to climb Crocker Mountain, also 4,000’, to reach Redington. Redington has another element that is challenging: it is the only 4,000’ footer that has no maintained trail. There are only two of these in all of New England; I knew this would be a good challenge, and Kevin was very excited about the adventure.
We were up and out before 5 am for a two hour drive to the trail head. It would be an all-day climb, and to reach Redington would require bushwhacking to the summit. It is considered difficult and a GPS is required. I had looked up several sites on Google and downloaded information; along with a GPS and survival essentials in our packs, we were prepared for the mountainous hike.
We started out on a clear, crisp day with little wind, and it was the first time I had ever hiked on Halloween. We followed Rt. 16/27 to Stratton and turned off onto Caribou Valley Road, an unmarked dirt road to the trail head. After approximately 4 miles, the road was blocked with a metal gate and a small parking space. There were no markings or signs for directions to the trail. I followed the downloaded information: beyond the gate, we walked less than a mile on the dirt road, looking for a trail on the right. We crossed a metal grilled bridge after the gate, plus two more wooden bridges, and then we saw a worn trail with no sign or markings. We decided to try it—but not far down the trail, there was an Appalachian Trail sign.
This was the trail to South and North Crocker, with Redington off the trail on the west side of South Crocker. It was a scenic, 1.0 mile gradual hike to Crocker Cirque Tent site, which is a side trail off the AT. We had no difficulty and made good time. Then the trail became steep all the way to South Crocker summit, another 1.1 miles. Here, at the summit, the trail to Redington began, and we had to find it. Near the wooded peak of South Crocker was a sign for a turn off for to a viewpoint. We followed that, and just before the viewpoint was a herd trail to Redington—again unmarked. It went through a dense evergreen forest, and since it looked like the right direction, we took that trail.
The trail became a narrow path: some places were so narrow that I had to squeeze through, with my daypack brushing on both sides. We were now on the opposite side of South Crocker. It was very steep going down; we knew that later we would be retracing our steps on this same path on our return, going up South Crocker, across the summit, and then down the other side. It was steep and unmaintained. There were many places you could lose your bearings and get mixed up, especially at sharp turns and around downed trees. Someone had put orange plastic ribbon on branches, and this was very helpful. We followed the trail to a cut-down boundary line, unmarked, which was not the trail to Redington—we continued on the narrow path instead.
It was exciting: the air crisp and clean, and a perfect day for climbing, but it took full concentration to watch our footing ,and at the same time, not lose our path. We reached the valley between the two mountains. There was a small opening of shrub brush, and in the distance, we could see Redington straight ahead. Now we had to climb our second 4,000 footer of the day on this narrow and unpredictable trail. After a while, the path in the dense forest came out to a cairn and an overgrown logging road. We followed this for a short distance and then the trail went off in the woods again to the summit.
We checked our watches, knowing we had only so much daylight to reach the summit and then retrace our steps—and we had many hours of climbing still to do. Our level of energy was still high, and we both were excited to bag another peak.
(posted December 1, 2015)