Katahdin (Baxter Peak), 3/6/17
Solo trip. Skied/ hiked in with homemade pulk rig on 3/5 from Abol Bridge via Foss & Knowlton + Lost Pond route to Daicey Pond. Golden Road was part paved/ part gravel with potholes & washboard but plowed and driveable with my Honda Fit. Parking lot on on the road and another for snowmobile trailers to the north of the road were plowed out. Store was open. Foss & Knowlton was a nice wide fire road to F&W Pond with manageable grades. One tricky bridge just before the Park boundary. From F&W Pond to Daicey the route narrowed to trail, would have been skiable if not for hard snow & postholes, little control so took them off near F&W Pond. I dragged over the ice of F&W to the outlet trail & back to the main trail & also across Daicey to the cabins. Kept to the side of the ponds due to recent warm weather but the ice seemed thick and sound. Saw that it was best to avoid the trails alongside the pond due to monstrous postholes. Cold night, near 0, same next morning, 3/6 decided to try Grassy Pond/ Tracy Pond route to the Tote Road thence thinking of skiing down to Abol Slide & up that way but the trail was unsuitable for skiing and the Tote Road was hammered & rutted into ice by snowmachines & so dragged my skis along with other gear atop my sled to Hunt Trail and decided to go up thataway. Very hard snow, walkable without snowshoes on the broken out trail (last trailhead entry was the end of Feb), several feet deep, lots of branches in the face, bent over poles, blowdowns in the way, slower going than I hoped. Made it to treeline & noticed that the ridge was mostly free of ice & snow, left ax, crampons & snowshoes (which I hadn't used thus far) just beyond the iron rungs & went up with Hillsounds & bare boots to the summit. On & off with the traction to deal with bare rock boulder scrambles + occasional icy patches. Carried a pole whippet in lieu of my ax, barely used it as well. Tablelands were more of the same, upper snowfields very thin. The Abol side appeared to have more snow and ice on it & Chimney side a heck of a lot more. Saw not another soul on the mountain, long views, clear weather, barely any wind, temps hovering in the upper 20s. Skipped Hamlin-- felt apprehensive about the possibility of being on the ledges of Hunt after dark & solo. On the return took the AT back to Daicey--not much better than my route that morning, lots of icy side hill & narrow bridges. Next two days were a wash, freezing rain & drizzle, dragged my gear out the way I came in on 3/8 instead of staying a fourth reserved night. Pond ice still appeared sound but water puddling on top and a tiny bit of edge melting here and there. On the way out ran into a couple of guys who also had been at Daicey and went up the Owl, just short of the summit, and in the parking lot two there were two adventurous fellow who were setting out for an OJI-Barren-Owl traverse.
Shoeless Paul
pgagnon999@outlook.com