11, 12 and 13

August 3, 2015 — Leave a comment

2015-08-03 14.10.03My plan was to climb three peaks to bring my total to thirteen. I thought I would finish in seven hours. Ten hours later I still had a few miles to go.

I started at the Garden trailhead and decided to take the Southside Trail ignoring the signs warning that it had been abandoned.

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The trail is an old forest road that for the most part is in remarkably good shape.

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But then it disappears, having been violently washed away and into the Johns Brook.

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The trail steepens after crossing Wolf Jaw Brook and I reach the Wolf Jaw Notch just before ten o’clock. I decide to turn right and head first to Upper Wolf Jaw Mountain. I am hiking alone today and am cautious at every tricky part. Others are not. I am passed by a young man running his way to the summit and I meet other groups heading up and down the trail at paces much quicker than mine.

I carry two forms of emergency communication, an ACR personal locator beacon and a signaling mirror that is a hold over from my days as a Boy Scout. It is doubtful that the mirror will be of much use in an emergency given the dense tree cover over head but I like having it and knowing how to use it. The locater beacon communicates with satellites. Although it is surprisingly heavy I always bring it because it provides me with the reassurance I need to hike these trails alone.

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In my earlier hikes I carried a day’s supply of water in a Camelback bladder. Now I bring two water bottles, a filter and a UV water purifier and drink water from the streams and brooks I pass along the way.

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There are two peaks on Upper Wolf Jaw Mountain, I reach the highest one at 10:56. It takes me another hour to reach Armstrong Mountain. I stop for just a minute and turn back, recrossing Upper Wolf Jaw on my way back down to the notch. I am very tired when I start the climb up Lower Wolf Jaw Mountain. I reach its summit at just before two o’clock and stop to enjoy my last sandwich.

Peering across the valley I spot Big Slide Mountain and remember fondly my hike there with two friends last Labor Day weekend and how we sat eating lunch staring at the mountaintop where I am now.

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During that hike we came upon a young deer just as we entered the trail. I think I may have met her again today.

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