My friend Mandy is section hiking the AT, and has all of the northern trail done except a few sections in Maine. The past weekend she picked up one of those sections with some other members of the Connecticut Section of the Green Mountain Club, including me. There were nine of us all together. One of the reasons I came along is because I'm resummiting the NE111 in my sixties, and I needed the five 4000 footers along the way.

I had done this stretch in 2010 when I was hiking the NE111 the first time, but I hadn't been back since then.

Thursday

On Thursday eight of us drove up in various cars, some of us leaving car spots on Caribou Valley Road, and all of us starting out at various times from where the AT crosses Rte. 4 near Rangeley. We only went 1.8 miles to Piazza Rock Shelter, having driven six hours or so up from Connecticut. We took advantage of the extra time to visit Piazza Rock, a huge rectangular rock protruding into the forest top. I highly recommend it if you're in the area. We also explored the caves nearby, which were also pretty cool.

There were a lot of sobo AT through hikers at the shelter, as well as at the other shelters we would stay at. We hit the bubble of soboes who left Katahdin around the beginning of June. I tented all three nights on the trip, and although I had no problem finding a place at Piazza Rock, the other two nights I had to hunt around for a place to pitch my tent.

Friday - Saddleback, Horn, Saddleback Jr.

Friday's hike had a lot of ups and downs, and the most extensive alpine zone hiking. The weather was clear and sharp and there were excellent views from all of the peaks. It was warm but not hot, with a nice breeze up high. There were not many bugs, then or any of the days, probably because that area has been in a drought lately.

This was probably my favorite part of this trip. Saddleback and the Horn are beautiful places to hike, both for the views and for the immediate environment. The labrador tea and cotton sedge were in bloom, and I saw a very big snake (possibly a kind of garter snake) on Saddleback.

We spent the night at Poplar Ridge Shelter. Our ninth member joined us there, having done our first two days in one day.

Saturday - Poplar Ridge, Lone, Abraham.

Hiking out of Poplar Ridge the trail goes steeply down to Oberton Stream, and steeply up to Lone Mtn. After that the rest of the group went on to Spaulding Shelter, but I took the spur trail to Abraham and back. The big metal thing which had been standing on the summit is now lying on its side near the summit. The emergency shelter is still there. Abraham was in a cloud that day, and it started to rain when I was on the summit. That was the only rain we had that trip. I made it down off the rocks before they got too slick, fortunately.

Sunday - Spaulding, Sugarloaf

Sunday was the hottest day, but at least there were lots of places with cooling breezes.

From Spaulding Shelter the trail goes steeply up Spaulding. This is the only place where people joined me on the spur to the summit, since it's less than a quarter mile. In between the Spaulding and Sugarloaf spur trails there's a plaque commemorating finishing the AT there in the 1930's, and later a great viewpoint to the east.

I took the spur to Sugarloaf, the highest peak in Western Maine (i.e. outside of Baxter SP). This is the top of a ski resort, but there's great views, albeit a little hazy that day, and a lot of cute little ladybugs.

After that it's a lot of down, including some tricky parts dropping down into the Carrabassett River Valley. After crossing the river it was a short walk to Caribou Valley Road, and a short roadwalk down the road to the spotted cars.

Afterwards most of us had pizza in Rangeley, and then drove back to Connecticut.

Saddleback, Horn, Abraham, Spaulding, and Sugarloaf were numbers 77 through 81 (out of 115) in my quest to repeat the Northeast 111 in my sixties. I'm only a little behind schedule now.

Here are the pictures.

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Cumulus

NE111 in my 50s: 115/115 (67/67, 46/46, 2/2)
NE111 in my 60s: 81/115 (58/67, 21/46, 2/2)
NEFF: 50/50; Cat35: 39/39; WNH4K: 41/48; NEHH 89/100
LT NB 2009; CT NB 2017

"I don't much care where [I get to] --" said Alice, "-- so long as I get somewhere," ...
"Oh, you're sure to do that," said the Cat, "if you only walk long enough."
- Lewis Carroll