Bushwhack Big Bickford & Scarface

Saturday July 7, 2018 @ 10 AM temp 60F clear skies sunny

I started at the Skookumchuck trailhead (I can never pronounce that name) lots of vehicles in the lot as it was over flow parking from the Layfette trailhead that was fully packed. I started down the trail pretty flat just paralleling rt 93 for a while than after a mile it turned left and started to climb adjacent to a stream. It was a really nice trail at that point not too steep and right next to the river. Cool with the sun shining and no bugs. In the next half mile the trail got very steep, good footing but steep and continuous. I hiked the trail for 2.2 miles and stopped at 3,100í elevation. Time for a break put on my long pants, long shirt, hat, gloves and safety glasses. From my location on the trail it was 1 mile to Big Bickford 0.6 mi @ 18 degrees and 0.4 Mi. @ 340 degrees. I set by bearing on my compass and was off. Not too bad for the first ľ mile but then the brush increased and the ferns started. Lots of low 2 feet to 3 feet tall stuff. It was easy to walk through but it hid the rocks and downed trees. After several almost falls I had to put my poles out in front as I walked and lift my feet on every step so as not to trip on an hidden hazards. The open areas were few to none and the ferns continued to get taller. The bugs also became an issue black flies and tons of mosquitos. Thick brush and taller and taller ferns continued as I neared the first summit. The bugs were now horrendous I was Leary to put my pack down because the brush was so thick I was afraid I would lose sight it. Finally a small clearing, off came the pack and I donned my head net. On the last 200 yards to the summit I was surrounded by thousands of flying creatures it was a little scary. I have no Idea what I would have done if I had not had my head net, probably gone crazy. Bagged Big Bickford and I was off to Scarface Mt 0.6 miles @ 328 degrees. The North slope off Bickford was steep and filled with brush, as I headed down as It leveled out to wet marshy soil and the brush got thicker not the ferns this time but tall 6 to 8 feet high vines with foliage on top. I could duck a little and see quite a distance but you had to push the vines out of you way as you walked. At this point I was tired and frustrated and wondering just what the heck I was doing here alone in the middle of nowhere. I have bushwhacked quite a bit and usually you can find a spot to the right or to the left to go around patches like this but I found none on this day. I continued on course and eventually reached Scarface Mt. As I sat on a log trying to eat and drink my legs were covered with bugs, black flies and who knows what else there were literally hundreds just on my legs.
A new bearing of 346 degrees and 0.6 miles would get me to Bickford Mountain. This was only slightly better hiking but not much. A quick break at the summit and then it was only 0.3 miles north to the old Skookumchuck trail on the north side of the mountain. I would welcome any trail or road at that point.
Back at the truck at 3:30PM so it took 5.5 hours to go 6.2 miles not too bad really my strategy was to go as fast as I could to keep the bugs from landing on me. I only stopped on each summit for a few minutes. Not too many bug bites either considering the hordes I encountered but I was completely 100% covered. My legs were very tired from all the high stepping in the ferns.
This was a tough Hike for me probably because I was alone, many times when I bushwhack my partner and I spread out fifty to sixty feet apart to see who has the best route ahead. Hard to do when your re alone. Someone told me itís a nice hike with lots of Birch I donít remember seeing one Birch tree on Saturday. I think it would be a better hike in the winter with all the ferns covered and with several spotters to look for easier passage forward.
However, it was a nice sunny day to be out and about in the mountains.