The Maine Appalachian Trail Land Trust had our first Next Century Hike of 2017, up Caribou Mountain in the Caribou Speckled Mountain Wilderness area of the White Mountain National Forest in Maine. Caribou Mountain is not on the Appalachian Trail but there are great views of much of the A.T. landscape from the Presidential Mountains of New Hampshire, all the way up to the mountains in the Rangeley area.
We had a total of six hikers for this trip up the Caribou Trail from West Bethel. The temperature at departure at about 9:30am was -5 F but winds were light and everybody was ready to get out on the trail. Some wore snowshoes and took them off, some kept their snowshoes on for the duration of the hike, and one hiker barebooted the entire way. The trail had been broken out when there was deep powder, but since then it had sleeted and snowed so it was packed with a crust on top. Since it was so cold, and the snow was crunching so loudly, we made good time on the way up. We did not see any other hikers and the trail down to the Evans Notch side of the mountain (on Route 113) was not broken out at the junction with the Mud Brook Trail. This was not a surprise, given that 113 is closed to vehicles in the winter.
We reached the summit at about 12:30pm and stayed for about five minutes. The wind had picked up and Louise’s jacket thermometer read 5 F (though it was probably more like 0 F). We headed back the junction and had a nice snack-oriented lunch while standing around in a circle. The trip down was largely uneventful, though with the cold and deep snow fatigue was starting to set in. Fortunately, somebody thought of the idea of stopping at the Norway Brewing Company on the way home, and everybody revived. Since the Maine Appalachian Trail Land Trust wishes to support local Maine businesses whenever possible, the four Maine-based hikers had a nice snack and beer there on the way home (thanks to Mike Morrone, land trust volunteer, for paying!). Next time we’ll get the New Hampshire hikers to come too!
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