Member Trip report

Bigelow Avery Peak, West Peak, The Horns


Trip Report/Photos from Robert.L

Featured Photo

The pandemic is losing it's grip.... the world is easing into a new direction... what we once knew is no more... 
where we are going is guided by each foot step we take and each foot print we leave...  Most importantly the move
is complete!  To say Dave and I are settled is an overstatement but we are ready to indulge the natural beauty of
our new surroundings and for the past three weekends we have.  The pandemic being what it was - the decision to 
pull up roots, move north, having to work, employ risk mitigation strategies, follow test protocols between states,
among so much more, it necessitated a serious hiking hiatus.  Though readers of my trips know that David and I still
managed to find some out of the way places for the occasional hike and nekkid swim - lol.  It's been a long haul 
but we are ready to put social distancing into our past.

Two weekends ago we hiked Puzzle Mountain.  At 3,133 feet it gifts you a 7.5 mile lollipop hike just on the edge of Maine's
Grafton Notch State Park and part of the Grafton Loop Hike which I hope to backpack in the near future.  Once on the summit
you are rewarded with views of Sunday River, The New Hampshire Presidentials, and on a clear day, which we had, 360 degree views of the surrounding wildnerness clear north to Quebec - my home province.

Last weekend, having renewed energy for the joys of the trail we opted to hike Old Speck.  Old Speck sits squarely inside 
Grafton Notch State Park, is part of both the AT and the Grafton Loop Trail and tops out at 4,170 feet.  We opted to go up the eyebrow and down the traditional trail - super sweet day.  Although it was overcast we had awesome views of Lake Umbagog.  To have 360 degree views one needs to climb the fire tower via an open rung ladder - yours truly did not.

Having hiked two weekends, roughly each 7.5 miles, and feeling more adventurous then ever, the task of selecting this weekends adventure was the topic of the week.  The forecast being sketchy for points west and south we opted to go north and  venture into Maine's Bigelow Preserve. 

At two hours from our new home - this was just the right distance for a more strenous hike.  We were not disappointed.  The morning began wet, rainy and cloudy.  A quick check of the forecast indicated partial clearing and at it's worst, simply overcast, off we went.  We arrived at the trail head at 9am and by 9:15 were headed into the preserve.  The hike started from the Stratton Brook Pond Road where we linked up withthe Fire Warden's Trail passing Moose Falls Tentsite along the way.  The  trail offers you a moderate ascent all the way until shortly after the tent site you are greeted with a majestic series of stone stairs granting you 1,300 feet of elevation gain over 1.2 miles - AMAZING - until you reach the Myron Avery Tentsite where backpacking dreams come alive.  The best part - stunningly blue skies - a crips 61 degrees - a mild breeze with NO BUGS!

At this point - aside from taking a break - we explored the tent site.  We then scooted east to tag Avery Peak at 4,082 feet.
We found a sunny spot, out of the wind, lunched and chatted up a few hikers.  After lunch we scooted west, back from where 
we came then up to West Peak at 4,134 Feet.  SCORE - Two 4,000 footers in one day.  From there we traversed the wooded ridge to the Horns at 3,812 and 3,792 feet respectively.  These peaks overlook Flagstaff Lake and it was breathtaking.  Astonishing 360 degree views at each peak.

We then began the final descent passing by Horns Pond where more backpacking dreams come alive - what an amazing tent site with a sweet pond tailor made for a refreshing dip.  We passed on the dip - still a bit on the cool side.  We carried on down the Horns Pond Trail to intersect again with the Fire Warden's Trail where we casually made our way back towards Stratton Brook Pond (enough said... but seriously... top quality swimming hole) and back to the car.  All of the photos are from the Bigelow Preserve Trek.

A brilliant day - blue bird weather - topping out somewhere in the vicinity of 12 miles, four peaks, a few hikers and pure joy!!

On a lighter note.... I can't talk about settling into the new home without talking about Soleil.  I adopted Soleil when
she was three, I've had for 9 years and David overlaps by 3 plus years.  She made it to Maine and is doing ok but she is
a graying soul at 12.  She has declined and it's been most noticeable throughout this transition.  I hope it stalls but
we have begun a regimen of pain relief for she is dearly arthritic.  Many of you have my met our dog so send her puppy 
kisses and lots of doggie love - she needs all she can get these days.

Spring is off to a brilliant start and summer promises even more.  The spring in Maine has been amazing and this transition 
has been one of the best decisions we've embraced.  We'll be mixing up the outdoor adventure a bit and with the easing of the
pandemic I might venture back to leading a trek or two in the near future.  

Cheers to friends old and new and we hope to see you on the trails soon!!

Rob 'n Dave.
Photo Credits: Dave

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Lev Posted May 30, 2021 at 4:57 PM

When our dog was getting on in years - she lived to be 16+, and was having trouble with her joints and walking, we found a vet who did acupuncture on her. She loved it and it greatly improved and extended her life. Best wishes, Lev

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