No-Man's Land

Mutha's Report (pics are here):

The PM and I started off on the official route of the Gordon Pond Trail (GPT) from Rte 112 (directions found in The Guide). Within a mile or so we departed the 'main' trail and headed up an old 4-wheeler road through a sugarbush that, from the thousands of meters of tubing and the 3 huge polyethylene tanks (maybe 200 gallons each?) indicates ongoing sugaring operations.

From this point on our bushwack was done entirely by compass - of which we only had one, strapped firmly to the PM's wrist. For a bit I tried leading but it was somewhat pointless to keep turning back and saying "more leftish?" and such, so the PM charged ahead the entire time. Our plan was to eventually hit the GPT near Gordon Pond - possibly hitting the falls. We maintained a NW-ish bearing through the most extraordinary terrain - amazing for it's ruggedness as well as its varied terrain. We traversed some of the most beautiful woodland marshes, cliffs, deciduous woods (some open with hardwoods that were criss-crossed with well-established game paths) and higher up around 2,500' some dense fir stands that, as we've all experienced, are so dense it seems unlikely that one's weight could break the hold.

We worked our way North and West like champs, but without a detailed knowledge of the area (or GPS) it was difficult to tell exactly where we were. We eventually ended up below the cliffs that Gordon Falls descend, but we had to work our way SW along the base, eventually finding a steep route that zig-zagged up a 'ramp' in a crevice to top out, again, in some beautiful open woods. There were quite a few sections that were downed tree trunks on top of boulders so that the dogs and us were challenged on just how to ascend - it was like climbing up through a game of "pickup sticks" that were dumped ontop of a pile of leggos.

We never saw any wildlife larger than a bird, but for hours there were moose droppings spaced meters apart, an occasional bear dump and as I mentioned, many well-established game routes.

We reached an elevation of about 2800', close enough to that of Mt. Wolf (3478') so that the terrain and trees were recognizable (I've been on Wolf twice) but we were never able to find our way to that summit. I've revised my best guess for our route (see map at right). Note in particular the traverse at the base of the cliffs SSW of the falls. There are two blue question marks on my map that, to be honest, raise the question of just where we hit our max elevation. We were on a set of pretty tall 'humps' and my dotted route is, of course, a complete guess. Our descent was very steep and required that we avoid some cliff-ish outcrops in the woods, doing a lot of holding onto saplings and the like.

Lastly, I have scratches all over my arms and legs. I look like I've been assembled from a kit.

In looking around on the web I found Steve Smith's blog Mountain Wandering and found this entry concerning the very same area from two months ago. Obviously as co-editor of The Guide he knows his way around and clearly he is similarly smitten by the area. I'd also like to point out, after checking out his blog, that this guy still hits the same backcountry spots that we are and seems to be enjoying many of the less well-trampled areas of the pemi, like the Lincoln Brook/Redrock/Hellgate drainage.

For what they're worth, my pictures are posted here. (Ignore the map on picasaweb and reference the map above.)

The Puppet Master's Report (his pics are here):
A great day out with MuthaZ, Spanky, and Riley the Dog. In sum - the road to hell is paved with good intentions, the journey is the destination, it's not about getting there- it's about finiding yoru way, etc! I couldn't help think of these types of cliches as I drove home last night. What a blast.

We wanted Gordon Brook to Kinsman, for a ~17 mile day but opted for a bushwack to middle Earth and got a ~10 mile day of great adventure.

I bet we saw land that even hunters and loggers have not tread! Our mistake, now that I have looked at the map, seems to be we didn't go in far enough on the road to hit Gordon Brook. We got a little impatient and then just decided to take a bearing and go for it... and we got what we asked for!

Highlights -
1) The deep woods syrup plumbing network that was more advanced than the Ben & Jerry's factory
2) Moose poop every other step
3) The diversity of terrain - from hardwoods that were easily navigable to swimming through the most dense soft woods I have ever been in.
4) The number of old trails and logging roads we crossed
5) Beautiful streams and trickles that fooled us into thinking they were Gordon!
6) Realing at the exit of the woods that we hadn't gone that far but had gone up/over/through a lot of terrain!
7) Post-hike soak in the Lost River
8) Melty ginger ice cream in Lincoln

Lessons learned -
1) Know your start point when bushwacking, it'll make your life easier!
2) Don't wear your sunglasses on your hat, the forest will steal them!
3)If bushwacking, pants and boots required, maybe even a tougher top (like a safari shirt)
4) Bring the AMC Guide in the car or, read the trail description beforehand (optional depending on desire for adventure)
5) Keeping a bearing is tough and takes away from the general trail banter
6) In the Whites, you are never really far from civilization. At no point yesterday did I feel panicked or worried that we couldn't get out. It was either West or South to a road. However, I am glad we ultimately chose South because West looked really f-ing tough!!

1 comment:

  1. One of the pictures that the PM took of Mutha resembles one of the pictures from Steve Smith's pictures. Its the picture of Mutha doing looking at the cascade.