On a rainy day in May I decided to take the long trek up to Carrabassett Valley to do the Mount Redington bushwhack. I figured there weren’t going to be many views from Redington, so it would be a good day to hike it. I awoke fairly early and planned on getting to the parking area on Caribou Pond Road by 8:00am. Those plans were thoroughly smashed when I got to Kingfield, Maine, the finish line of the Sugarloaf Marathon.
It took me an hour to go the final 10 miles of my drive, but I couldn’t complain. Four years previously I had made the Sugarloaf Marathon my first marathon. Seeing the utterly exhausted runners brought back fond and painful memories. I wish it had been cool, overcast and drizzly on my marathon day. Instead it had been sunny and in the 90s.
The Caribou Pond Road was a hot mess. The gravel was soft as if from a recent thaw and water was puddling up all over. That was on top of normal conditions of the logging road, sketchy wood bridges and all. Along the way I passed a mountain biker going the opposite direction and arrived at the trailhead at 9:00 am.
There were three vehicles at parking and a group of folks preparing to head out. I stepped out of the car into barely 50 degree weather, overcast skies and a mild sprinkling. One of the group members disengaged from their pre-hike commotion and approached me. She saw me writing in my notebook and asked if I was a ranger. I said no and explained that I was a blogger and was about to bushwhack Redington. Her name was Deb and the group was the New England Over 40 hikers. They were doing the Crockers, I spoke with them a little bit to tell them what I knew of the Crockers. I hadn’t yet done South Crocker and had only done North Crocker from the north.
After passing the group I quickly moved along the logging road, passed the intersection with the Appalachian Trail and headed deeper into the valley between the Crockers/Redington and Sugarload/Spaulding. I followed the tire tracks of the mountain biker I had seen earlier, his ruts standing out in the saturated ground. I came to a fork in the logging roads and took a left.
In researching the hike to Redington I came across a rough map by the Endless Energy Corporation (link in references below). They did the wind farm research on Mount Redington and invite hikers to visit the peak. Their map locates the coordinates for the logging road turns, and I plugged those coordinates into my Google Maps. If you’re signed in with your Google account, then Google Maps will store information that you can later use on your mobile device with the Google Maps app. I took it a step further and located the turns on the snowmobile trails and herd paths that I could see from satellite view. In case I didn’t have any cell service (which wasn’t the case for me), I also printed out a maps and specified which direction I should turn.
I continued on the logging road for a while, lost in thought and solitude. Eventually the sound of rushing water interrupted my walking meditation. I bushwhacked a short ways toward the sound and found cascades swollen with the recent rain. Returning to the logging road I quickly came to the end of it according to maps. But, the road that continues right and the road that continues left over a dilapidated bridge were no less roads as far as I could tell.
At the T in the road, I turned right and walked into the valley to the southeast of Mount Redington. The open valley was a unique landscape of fields, shrubs and solitary evergreen not yet encroached upon by the returning forest. I assumed the area had been clear cut sometime in the past and was in a state of recovery. Despite the road and ancient man-made debris scattered haphazardly beside it the valley felt very secluded. I slowed my hiking pace in order to take it in.
At the top of a hill I turned right at cairn and started to climb for the first time. I was still on what I would call a road, but it was rockier than the overgrown logging road below. I passed an arrow made out of stones and some very fresh bear scat and wondered if the beast was watching me.
After climbing for a bit there was a cairn marking the start of a snowmobile trail. I turned left and felt the forest close in around me for the first time. I hustled along in my new Salomon XA Pro 3Ds on the wet trail. My Brooks Cascadias had lasted two years despite their terrible traction, in my experience. Though the Salomon had “grip that inspires confidence,” I soon slipped on a rock and landed on my side in a pond-sized puddle. I unfairly cursed my friend who suggested the shoes to me and then laughed at being drenched completely on my right side. The terminator of dry and wet was almost perfectly down the middle of my chest.
The snowmobile trail eventually came to a fork, with the trail continuing right and a herd path going straight. I took the herd path and the trees inched in closer. As it turned out, the fall in puddle didn’t matter because within a hundred feet of pushing through evergreen I was 100% wet. It might have seemed like a good idea to do a bushwhack to a view-less peak on a drizzly day, but rain plus bushwhack equals getting soaked (pro tip).
The herd path climbed up Mount Redington for a while and then the true bushwhack forked off to the right. There was bushwhack tape marking the whole way (don’t rely on tape, it could be wrong or gone), but the route was pretty clear anyway.
I pushed through young fir trees, barely able to see the old packed monorail of ice below. It was very slick in places but I went slow and made sure I had good footing. I shortly met up with the bushwhack from South Crocker and then entered the area that was cleared for wind turbine testing. I dropped my trekking pole to point the route out and picked my way through the numerous herd paths heading in the general direction of the summit.
After a short search I found the canister at the high point. It was 11:45 am and it had started to snow.
I sat next to the canister and ate a quick lunch of apples and peanut butter and wrote in the log book. By the time I finished my apple I was absolutely freezing from being wet and stationary. I quickly packed up and headed out, knowing that I had to get my body moving to heat up.
I had no issues following the same path out. I briefly considered the bushwhack to South Crocker, but with being wet and cold I didn’t want to push my luck. When I got back down to the open valley I slowed and enjoyed the scenery. It was oddly the highlight of the hike for me.
I got back to logging roads at 1:00 pm and back to parking lot at 1:50 pm. The New England Over 40 group was just finishing their hike as well. We chatted again and they invited me to join their group. I told them I definitely would in another 3 years and meant it. They were genuinely nice people and the group seems very active. It may be the only thing I’m looking forward to about turning 40.
This hike was a different one for me. It was long and gradual, so I still felt fresh at the end, but it felt more remote and required a little bit of navigation skills (but not much when you have the points located on Google Maps). I definitely liked the open valley the most and wish it was closer to me so I could trail run it often. Hopefully others find this information helpful in making the trek for themselves.
The best thing one can do when it’s raining is to let it rain.
—Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Video of bushwhacking Mount Redington
Music from Free Music Archive: “The Last Ones” by Jahzzar
MAPS & STATS
#1 – Appalachian Trail crossing: 45.039400,-70.344700
#2 – Left at fork in logging road: 45.025660,-70.349000
#3 – Right at end of logging road: 45.009670, -70.356450
#4 – Right at cairn leaving valley: 45.012900, -70.370240
#5 – Left at cairn entering snowmobile trail: 45.021600,-70.370000
#6 – Straight at fork in trail: 45.022360,-70.374700
#7 – Right to start bushwhack: 45.024740,-70.383500
Mount Redington: 45.024900,-70.388700
All set using Google Maps
Date Hiked: 15 May 2016
Trail Conditions: mud, standing water, old snow, ice
Weather: overcast, light rain, flurries
Wind: NE 15mph
Highest Elevation: 4010′
Elevation Gain: 1210′
Distance: 11.1 miles
Book Time: 6:10
Actual Time: 4:50