Red Ridge, W East Kennebago, Black Nubble, Merrill-ME

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New member
May 18, 2005
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Orrington, ME
...4 peaks, all 3Ks..(thanks to jt, Damon, Nate and NDave for beta on parts of these hikes)----took off at 2AM for a long day(s)..first item on agenda was the "straggler" i left last i drove toward Grafton Notch i was treated to a huge orange full moon setting in the west followed about an hour later by the orange sun rising in the east..neat--i turned into the York Pond Rd (runs into upper end of Success Pond Rd) just after leaving GNState Park and worked my way around to the north side of

Red Ridge 3030' What had been a clear morning became total soup after i went over the HOL in Grafton Notch. I parked before the spot i intended due to a mushy log road and started up one of the numerous skid trails headed toward the top. I'm far from a logging expert and generally supportive of the industry, but this place is a textbook "how not to log" setting--piles of slash everywhere, not only on the skid roads, but all over the woods-hard to find a place to walk unimpeded. It was like walking on giant pick up sticks interspersed with sand.

"Easy" route to the "top", but no canister-pea soup conditions and a 20 minute search-damn, what a way to start the adventure-hate when i miss a can. In frustration, i pull out the map and hello, i shot for the "wrong" summit-true summit is an easy 0.25 miles away thru a shallow col filled with more cool spider webs than i've ever seen, now glistening in morning dew and emergent sunshine. The real top has been recently logged all the way up from 3? sides (not my side:))-fortunately my map/compass skills are still intact-"easy" canister, tube type, water inside when i screwed out the bottom plug-not sure why this happens. I tried to dry register which contained such luminaries as Nate, Albee, DR, Marc and Mayor Jim.

Nice sit in the sun on top, quick descent and over Rt 26 thru Upton and Erol, up Rt 16 past Aziscohos, Osquossoc and Rangeley to Langtown Mill on the way to Stratton--turn in at Bridge Rd for

West Peak of East Kennebago 3652'-Two possibilities here-a very steep, very thick 'whack from the SE or a longish "walk" on Bridge Rd/snowmobile trail around to the west and north all the way to the top..i do enough of the former and chose the "road". Unless you don't care about your car/tires, i'd park no higher than 2400' (obvious). It was just a stiff trudge 3+ miles to the top enlivened by a stare down with a matched pair of moose. The top is wide open/views on one side, has a small building and the entire area is strewn with beer cans, snowmobile drive parts and toilet paper-yuck-still sunny, 60s and windy-didn't linger. (i did find a working condition Citizens Eco Drive watch apparently from late 90s about which i know zip :))

That was it for the day, but i thought i'd scout an approach for tomorrow's first peak so i turned into the "Nash Stream Road" a bit further east on Rt 16 and tried to thread my way "up". The names for these roads in Delorme seem to have little to do with the signed/real names--NS Rd is really known as the I.P. Road though they no longer own/run the property-same for other roads. The roads are steep in parts and look a bit daunting, but you'll be fine with a little care-no issues. I managed to get to a log landing at about 2700' on the NW side of the mountain to have a look.

Black Nubble 3710'
-Very tired, but of course up i go--tried to take old skid trails to 3100'. I didn't have as much luck as some others and was into 'whack mode about 0.4+ miles before the summit. It was bad in spots, but really bad-head high evergreens and modest blowdown, but not in same places-just steady, hard work. I'm glad this peak is so "classic" mountain-isolated and inverted "V" shape. I just took whatever decent line the mountain allowed and went "up". Near the top i hit a few odd, thin, short paths which were "cut"-summit was an easy find as was jar. The glass jar was smashed with nasty shards everywhere and the sopping wet registers on the ground. I took them down for possible re-hab; summit needs new jar/register. Registers were a real mess (probably toast), but original was D Crispo 1986; saw Paisleys in 89 and Marc as last visitor in 09. Made a tired, wobbly descent and off to Road House to crash.

Unfortunately I've had several iffy experiences at Road Hose in last few years, but no construction crews tonight-nobody-Nirvana. Good burgers and fries at Loony Moose, essentially passed out at 830 and woke about 3ish to truck noise/headlight on Rt 16. Up at 5, lo 30s, sunny-usual beautiful sunrise over mist scene on Flagstaff Lake (always a stunning picture) as i headed for Beaudry Rd. Drove about 23 miles in Beaudry, Merrill Streep (Lowelltown Rd in Delorme), then left on pretty iffy log road --if you go, be careful on the last road (deep ruts, a few washouts)--if you're used to this, you will make it no problem. I parked in a log landing just east of

Merrill 3330'-I looked at a ridge approach from the SE or a drainage approach from the East and chose the latter-worked well for me. You can follow an old skid road about 0.3 miles with good (lucky) choices and from there i was able to use a piece of very old road, brook/drainage gully and animal paths much of the way. The woods are fairly decent (bad hobblebush down low in spots) and the most difficult part was "steeps" in last 0.4 miles-nothing horrible, just normal off trail stuff. Easy to find, semi-open summit-no views. Easy jar spot where plastic peanut butter jar has replaced broken glass one. Many of the usual suspects in recent register--DR (his #299 from a few years back), Marc 7/09. Pierre (Oncoman) from a week ago and the always recognizable small, neat, extensive writing of Nefarious Nate (said with love :) as i enjoy his entries and my correspondence with him)--most of us are too tired to wax eloquently or at length on the summit.

After wandering down, i sat in the sun taking in Van Dyke, Merrill, the Caribous, Smart, Moose-lonely, perfect spot for all over tanning-everything seems OK with the world at times like this. Heading out, i came to the major dirt road intersection :) of Beaudry and Spencer Rds-- thought maybe i should try Tumbledown, but too tired-another day. The dirt road network in western and northern Maine i've spent so much time on these last 3 years is a whole 'nother world-you need to check it out.

On the way out i thought about how the area has changed in the last few years; just yesterday i was clinging to that straight up ladder on the Kibby tower with no activity in sight--once just home to logging and intrepid sportsman/adventures, the ridges are now home to 45-50 windmills and lots of construction activity. Phase I (at the 7.5 mile road off the Beaudry Rd is done and they will finish Phase II this year (in the 3.5 mile road). I probably shouldn't opine here, but i like the project. I've been to the base of operating windmills both here and also on Mars Hill and these are soooo much quieter. Apparently Trans Canada is using newer, better tech (i talked with a rep of Danish windmill supplier at the summit of N peak, Kibby Range last fall) than did/does First Wind. I see slowly turning, graceful, curved blades on these towers

Passing Sugarloaf on the drive home, i decided to stop in Carrabassett Town Office for insight on approaching Owl's Head/ Black Nubble (this is another Black Nubble). Probably a bad sign when i walk into the Town Manager's office and he says "so where are you hiking today?" He had given me some excellent advice on a group of peaks between Rt 16 and the Long Falls Dam Rd last year and now gave me an idea for a new/different approach to OH & BN--good folk. In the course of our conversation, he jokingly asked me if i'd seen their (Franklin County) Sheriff or Deputies back in the Beaudry as they have "9/11" money to go back there on 4 wheelers (national security?:)). What's funny is Nate's entry from about this time last year in the Merrill jar where he mentions running into and seeing these guys where i parked--this is 1.5 miles in a very iffy logging road off a minor dirt road 5+ miles back in from the dirt Beaudry Rd 16 miles in off Rt 16 above Eustis--truly nowhere

--good 1 1/2 days


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