In my plan to hike all of the New England 4000 Footers I still had a bunch of peaks to do in the Carrabassett Valley area of Maine. So, in late January I decided to tackle a few from Route 27 just north of Sugarloaf Ski Resort. The plan was to hike the Appalachian Trail from the road to North Crocker Mountain and South Crocker Mountain, and if the bushwhack was broken out to Redington Mountain (and I felt up to it) do it as well. I chose to do the Crockers from the north because they were accessible from a major road that I knew would be open. I could find very little information on trail conditions and road closures online.
I left home at 4:30 am for the two and a half hour drive north. As I approached Carrabassett Valley the full moon was setting just above the ridge line of Mount Abraham. I looked for a good place to stop to take a photo of it from Route 27, but failed to find one and didn’t want to take the time to explore side roads for a better vista.
After hiking Sugarloaf and Spaulding the previous day, my ankle was sore and I wasn’t positive it would be up for another day of hiking. Not wanting to sit around camp all day, I wrapped my ankle tight and Michael, Jeff and I headed to the Bigelows.
The Bigelows are a long range of mountains found south of Flagstaff lake in the Bigelow Preserve. The range has two New England 4000 Footers and a New England Hundred Highest, all of which we planned on tackling. To get to the standard route for hitting all of those peaks, we took Stratton Brook Pond Road off Route 27 and parked at the last lot before the road turned left toward Stratton Brook Pond. The standard route was a lollipop loop up the Fire Warden’s Trail to Avery Peak, then west across the Range Trail to West Peak and The Horns and at Horn Pond Shelter taking Horns Pond Trail back down to the Fire Warden’s Trail. The hike was nearly 14 miles and 4000 feet of elevation gain and by the end I wanted to amputate my left ankle.