Looking up at Santanoni
It’s about time for me to get moving, and get ready for some upcoming winter hiking and camping. It’s been over a month since my last hike, around Elk Lake, with the Reds, and Rob, so I’m a bit out of shape. So, I decided to head out to the Newcomb Lake, Moose Pond area, for a trip where I could work out the kinks (in my joints), and check out my gear. Looking at the sign in sheet, at the trail head, I knew something looked odd. Oh yeah, it’s that time of year again, hunting season. Luckily, I still had some orange blazed streamers tied to my pack. Even so, I was wishing I had brought my orange hat, for a little added visibility. There were a few big groups signed in, some for as many as 9 days. I assume they all had permits, as I believe the maximum stay is 3 days, in any one place. It wasn’t long before I reached the first camp, complete with a big American flag! (it looked completely deserted, as did the others). Soon after, I spotted a hunter, walking down the main trail. We both stopped to chat, and he turned out to be a very interesting gentleman, from PA. He told me he had been coming here since 1985. He said, back in the early days, some spots, like Moose Mountain (that’s where the trail opens up, and it climbs up, from a large swamp) it was like a small city. Not any more, though. According to him, the sightings of game worth taking (mostly bear, and deer) were getting less, and less. As I continued on, I encountered two other hunters, both extremely friendly, and eager to stop and talk. This put to rest any concerns I had, about running into these guys on the trail. I’m pretty sure no one would ever consider hunting on the main trail, as it was also used by them to get from place to place. I would, however, caution anyone to avoid bushwhacking anywhere around here, during hunting season. Just stick to the marked trails, and you’ll be fine.
View From Moose Mountain
One of the reasons this trail is so popular with hunters is that it’s accessible by horse, so they can haul their big camps far into the woods. These places look like they could hold maybe 10 guys or more! Complete with indoor wood stoves, and portable wooden outhouses, they look quite impressive. So much for roughing it in the woods! I ended up finding a nice campsite, around Moose Pond, and never crossed paths with anyone after passing the pond. I brought my old Walrus winter tent with me, just to make sure it was OK for the inevitable snow that should be coming soon (and to remind me how much fun it is to carry a 7 lb. tent!).
As it was, there was little or no snow (I was at around 2000 ft. elevation), except for the high peaks, which looked covered by a least a foot of snow (hard to tell exactly, from my perspective). As evening rolled in, the weather changed quickly, and the winds were fierce. I would guess some of the gusts were over 40 mph. Fortunately, when I set up camp, I usually look at what’s going to be over my tent, to avoid any deadwood. Several times during the night I heard nearby trees blowing down. I’m sure I woke up at least once during the night, with the sounds of loud cracks and falling limbs fresh in my dreams! I ended up sleeping until around 8 AM, making up for being awake more than usual, during the night.
Walrus 4 Season Tent
I made a few notes about gear changes I would need to make for my next trip. I needed to add 4 or 5 “snow pegs” for the tent. Also, I wanted to get something to cover up the foot of my sleeping bag, as I forgot how wet the bag got from condensation, over night (where my feet touched the end of the tent). A small sheet, for putting over the floor of the tent would also be a nice touch, just to warm things up a bit. Other than that, I’m ready and anxious for the snow to come. With a few more trips, just to get in shape, and little more working out on the bike, I should be ready to knock off more than a few winter High Peaks this season.
A Change in the Weather