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It really wasn’t much of a trip, but...

After a couple weekends of putting it off for one reason or another, I went up Boundary Bald Mountain just outside Jackman, Maine, yesterday afternoon and camped overnight. I’d actually planned on going up after work on Friday (I get out at 1400 then), but a week of turning wrenches on trucks, trailers, and logging equipment had me too tired and sore. So Saturday it was!

The previous time I hiked it, almost 2 years ago, you were able to drive farther up the dirt trail to the trailhead. The timber company that owns the area blocked the trail a mile down from where it used to be, so the hike was a little longer. 

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Temps were in the upper 50s, with plenty of sun and bugs. They were bad enough that I put on insect repellent, which I almost never do. 

The trail is very primitive and minimally-maintained, when you reach the treeline and the trail is all ledge and large rocks it’s easy to lose the path. Cairns aren’t always visible due to turns in the trail, and you definitely don’t want to bushwhack through this stuff.

Even with the much lower than average snowfall we got this past winter, the wet and muddy spots were still there. There are several springs on the way up, which is probably where the water comes from. Some flowed down the trail, making the rocks nice and slippery in places.

Maybe halfway to the summit, I wonder when it’ll be melted?

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Starting around this spot the trail starts getting much steeper, and with about a 25lb pack it was definitely noticeable. I did better than I expected after not hiking a trail like this in a long time. 

One thing I was really impressed by is that I didn’t see one single piece of trash on the entire trail. It’s not a busy trail, but still. Thank you, hikers!

Anyway, after a couple hours (1900ish) I got to the spot I camped my last time up, set up camp, and boiled water to rehydrate my dinner. Temps were forecast to be around 30F overnight, thankfully without much wind, and had already dropped to around 40. My shirt had dried off while setting up, so I put on my merino baselayer and down jacket, and before long the rain jacket went on because the wind that was blowing was cutting right through. It was around 2000 when I finished eating, I took some pics and sat down to relax for a while.

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Coburn Mountain, maybe 20 miles away
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 Around 2100 I hit the sack even though there was still enough light to see it through the tent fly. I chatted with a couple friends via Facebook Messenger but then lost my LTE signal completely and went to sleep. 

 This morning I woke up with the sun well off the horizon, and after getting dressed got breakfast rehydrating and broke camp. Took a few more pics, including this one of a huge wind farm not far (I think) across the border at Saint-Robert Bellarmin in Canada. Though it could be the Kibby Wind Farm north of Eustis  I didn’t shoot an azimuth to it.

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Around 0715 I started down, running into 7 people on the way (in 2 groups.) I got a few 😳😲 when I said I’d camped overnight LOL With my knees still a little stiff and sore from the hike up and being still while I slept, it took a little longer to get down. I haven’t been able to be still for very long today, when I am they stiffen up quickly. Tomorrow I have some yard work to do when it’s not raining, so I’ll get them lubed up a bit that way. Maybe I’ll take a walk to work more of the stiffness out. 

I‘d wanted to try out my new Osprey Kestrel 38 pack on this hike, but the forecasted overnight lows required that I use a sleeping bag (Sierra Designs Mobile Mummy 800) that was too big to fit comfortably in the bag. So my old standby Osprey Atmos AG 50 came along instead. My guess is it weighed around 25lb, which it carried very well, but I think I could have dropped about 4-5lb. 

First, I knew I was only going overnight but I had 2 days worth of food. Second, I brought a full 1l water bottle and my empty Katadyn BeFree 1l from my ROTM prize pack (thanks again, Alicia & Dave!) Knowing how much water there is on the mountain, packing 2lb all the way up doesn’t make much sense. Next time I’ll bring an empty bottle and fill it and the BeFree at the last spring before the summit. Lastly, with no bugs at the summit I can leave the tend body at home and just “fast pitch” the footprint & fly. Plus there’ll be the weight savings of the Kestrel over the Atmos.

It was also the first real hike with my new Oboz Sawtooth Low BDry hiking shoes and Outdoor Research Rocky Mountain Low gaiters. I’ve been wearing shoes in place of boots more and more, and they performed perfectly. Between the waterproof shoes and tight-fitting gaiters, stepping in water and mud 3-4” deep didn’t result in any getting through to my socks. 

I have a lot to do this summer, but I’m hoping to get out hiking and camping at least every other weekend this summer. 

Phil that a good trip report..Happy Memorial day to you. I am glad you got out his weekend. I was going to but last minute deadline made me work. I got two different camp areas I can get to this week though.I just have to bringabout 3 lt of water to camp though,I need to try some recipes for food that I am working on. I wondered how the weather was there Since Vermont and New Hampshire got snow the other day. Which surprised me. WE had rain a system is sitting near DC and creating all problems on the east. Well Sounds good about your plans for the summer. I plan on a few long trips and Getting out atleast every other weekend. This year I also have sobo hikers Ill do some trail magic for coming through. Know my area and all the way heading to Shenandoah on the AT I end up giving people directions and Have them look at spots so they can see their family members hiking the AT. 

Nice trip and nice pics Phil! What was holding your tent down on that rock you camped on? I'm so used to being tied to trees that it looks dangerous :)

Glad you got out there and had a good time. The more you go the more you go!

Denis,

I‘d like to give a 3 or 4 night trip a try sometime, but right now I only get 5 days vacation/year. I could probably take a day or 2 off (even without pay, if necessary) in conjunction with a long weekend and do 3 nights, but then the problem would be finding a trail that’s not too far and that‘s not crawling with hikers. 

LS,

I was actually on a shallow layer of dirt and decomposed rock, and able to pound all but 1 stake all the way in. The last one got pounded into a space eroded away between layers in a rock. 

I‘m planning on going up again this weekend, with a lighter pack this time. The forecast at the summit for Sat night is showers and 35mph winds, so I hope the stakes hold as well as they did when I weathered similar winds and downpours in July 2019. 

Phil Smith said:

"..I was actually on a shallow layer of dirt and decomposed rock, and able to pound all but 1 stake all the way in. The last one got pounded into a space eroded away between layers in a rock. 

I‘m planning on going up again this weekend, with a lighter pack this time. The forecast at the summit for Sat night is showers and 35mph winds, so I hope the stakes hold as well as they did when I weathered similar winds and downpours in July 2019."

 Use some of those large rocks that are all around your tent.  I often camp where you can't hammer home a stake.   The method folks use in those conditions is tying a line onto each loop on the tent you'd normally use to place a  stake, then tie the other end of the line around a large rock.  If you can't find/move something large enough, select a moderate size rock, tie off to it, then place a pile of similar size rocks on the line, leaving the tie-off rock stick out of the pile on the far end from the tent.  You alternatively can drag a large, downed, wood logs, over and tie off to them, too.  Disperse your handiwork before you leave, per LNT.

Ed   

Most of those rocks are only 1/4”-1/2” thick “chips”, shale or sandstone? You can break pieces off a lot of them with your fingers. It took some looking to find a rock solid enough to pound stakes in, and even that one lost a few flakes. I think what’s happening there is soil is in the process of being made. Other than the one I had to hammer into the rock itself, the others went in pretty easily. Once or twice I had to dig out 2-3” wide chips from under the stake, other smaller ones would either move the stake or be moved by it. 

I posted my advice mostly for the newbies, but I wonder,  Your image shows the site strewn with lots of large rocks - some appear too heavy to lift.  Unless the perspective in the image is deceptive, there seems to be plenty of rocks to carry out the cairn-as-tent-anchor technique,  The rock pile itself can be small rocks, as it is the collective mass that is important.  The tether rock needs to be large enough that the surface area facing the stone pile prevents it being dragged through the pile.

 

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OR... If you can drive a stake partially into the ground you can use a rock as shown below to secure it from being pulled out. 

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 Ed

 

Nice trip report, Phil! I'm glad you were able to get out for an overnight. It looks like a scenic spot to pitch your tent, plus you had a lovely sunset.

I hope the Katadyn BeFree is working out for you! It sounds like you had a lot of new gear to test out as well

Hopefully you'll be able to continue your outings all summer long.

Ed,

If you look at the 2nd guy line on the left you’ll see that it’s at a different angle, that’s because it’s the one going to a stake actually pounded into a crevice in a large rock. All the others went into the ground relatively easily. Sometimes I had to move a small rock under the surface, other times the stake either cracked or split it. The soil was a mix of dirt and pulverized rock in various sizes.

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 Alicia,

I'm planning to go up again this weekend, Friday night has much better weather but I’ll probably be too tired again. Though it might be worth it to push myself and not have to deal with the rain and 30mph wind forecast for Saturday night. Hopefully by the end of the summer I’ll have at least 1 ME4K under my belt. If I can get the work my Jeep needs finished by the Independence Day weekend, I think I’ll head up Snow Mountain (3960’) near Eustis. Maybe another peak for another night out if there’s a loop. 

I really like the BeFree bottle, it’s so nice having ice cold water to drink! Like was mentioned in the reviews the plastic cap is a little flimsy, I need to order a SmartWater bottle cap. The bottle itself hasn’t given me any problems. 

If you get a longer time you can be out Like 3 or 4 days if possible Grafton loop might be the ticket...But I am just glade your getting out. Maines  has ocean and mountains whats not to love. 

Phil,

Great trip. Thanks for sharing. I just retired and haven't camped in about 15 yrs so I'm living life vicariously for now. Still have a North Face bag but need to get a tent and pad again. I;ve taken to a lot of reading about camping during the pandemic since I can only hike or bike easily during this time.  Stories like yours get me through the day when I can't get out. Thanks again.

Have fun, Phil. I hope you're able to get in some 4000-footers this summer too.

I ended up going again after work yesterday afternoon, though if I’d known how wet, slippery, muddy, and buggy it was going to be I would have stayed home. There was a LOT of running water on the trail for at least 1/2 mile before hitting the treeline, requiring a lot of 3- and 4-point scrambling to get up the rocks safely. The black flies even followed me to the summit.

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 The hike was a lot easier carrying only about 2/3 the weight as the last one, the new Osprey Kestrel 38 is a very comfy backpack! It was more windy, though, which caused the poles to shift under the fly of my Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL1 like I mentioned in my review from almost 2 years ago. Nope, I never did send it out for modifications like I planned. That will happen this week even if it means a month without the tent. 

I had a tasty dinner (review in progress), then crashed from boss- and hike-induced exhaustion. Woke up many times during the night due to sliding off my air mattress, I’ll be putting a million clear silicone or seam sealer dots on both sides to hold things in place. 

It was later than usual when I got up, I went through my normal morning routine and headed down. It took a lot longer than the last time, I estimate an hour just for the first 3/4 mile which got me past 90% of the steep, wet rock sections. The humidity was off the scale, the breeze on the summit stayed there, and I was itching like crazy from the black flies and skeeters that kamikazed into the lakes and rivers of sweat on my face and head. 

Reaching my Jeep around 11am, 3 ladies in a pickup that had just parked asked how the trail was. I told them the same thing I wrote in my first sentence, and after a couple minutes of discussion they said they’d try to find something a little less miserable. I don’t blame them! I think Boundary Bald Mountain is going to be a fall hike from now on. 

A couple things I forgot to include. On the way to the mountain I was driving on a logging road when an owl swooped down and grabbed something on the side of the road not 30 feet in front of me. It then looked up, saw me, and took off. I have no idea what kind it was, other than it wasn’t a great horned owl. It was tan with brown stripes, none of the pics I’ve seen of owls native to Maine have matched it in both size and coloring. 

Later on, while walking on the haul road before the trailhead proper, I heard a sound that took me a few seconds to realize was a partridge drumming. I don’t know if he was warning me off or trying to get a lady partridge‘s attention. 

Maybe a barred owl? Though I imagine that's one of the first ones you looked at for an ID.

The humidity was awful this past weekend, but I'm glad you were able to get in some outdoor time.

The barred owl is pretty close, and I know every bird is unique so not looking like a few pictures I’ve seen doesn’t mean anything. This one was definitely a tan base with brown stripes, and from the 2 or 3 seconds that I saw it I’d estimate it was a foot tall with a 3 foot wingspan. They were never completely outstretched so that’s just a guess. I seem to remember an oval ring of dark feathers around the eyes, but can’t recall the eye color (the barred owl is the only true owl in the eastern US with brown eyes.) 

May 16, 2022
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