MAUI, HAWAII … The Pipiwai Trail

MAUI, HAWAII … The Pipiwai Trail, above the Seven Sacred Pools, is supposed to be one of the best hikes on Maui.  There are several great waterfalls along the route with the final destination fall being Waimoku Falls, falling 400-feet down a sheer lava rock wall shaped like a horse shoe.  This is the second time we have completed this little hike … the last was February, 2011.

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Getting out of Halifax – Bluff

Laura, little Kasper and I needed a break from the city life and were able to duck out to the Bluff Wilderness Trail for a quick overnight.  We pitched halfway on the Hay Marsh Loop by Upper Five Marsh Lake.  Hay Marsh is about 15km in and we would complete about the same distance on the hike out the next day.  This is a great hike as it is so close to Halifax (only 10 minutes away) and because it is relatively easy terrain, you can get a late start in the day and still have a lots of time to set up camp and enjoy.

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katahdin RESCUE

Litter CarryMount Katahdin has claimed 19 lives since 1963, mostly from exposure in bad weather and falls from the Knife Edge.

This year we took part in the rescue of a hiker that became exhausted on top of Katahdin.  The hiker had to spend the night at tree line.  Unfortunately it rained about 3″ over night leading to a very tough night of exposure in Nature.  The hiker was exhausted and could not make the decent the following day.  A rescue was called to carry the hiker off the mountain.  Laura and I helped with the rescue along with a few other hikers and rangers.  It took the majority of the day to carry the hiker down by using a metal stretcher.

Although everything worked out for the best. I do want to share an interesting part to the story. During the early morning, Laura and I were checking the weather to decide on our hike for the day.  A Ranger asked us if we would help with a “Litter Carry” on Katahdin. Laura and I always want to give back and explained that we would like to help but give us more details. The Ranger then explained that we would need to carry about 100lbs of litter down the mountain. We both took a deep breath thinking this is a lot of garbage and Laura suggested that we could do this on our way down from the summit and it would probably work out. The Ranger looked at us really strange … we then heard a broadcast over the radio discussing vital signs and wondering how far away the “litter carriers” are. Laura and I both looked at each other and said to the Ranger “Do you need help getting someone down the mountain”? The Ranger said “yes, what do you think I am talking about”?  Well, to us Litter is Garbage and not a person … had you of told us you needed help with a rescue and a hiker is in trouble, we would have left an hour ago and not have wasted the time discussing our plan to pick up the garbage on our decent after bagging the peak.  Lesson learned … apparently in Maine, Litter is a person and not Garbage.

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North Brother Mountain, Maine

North Brother mountain is located in Baxter State Park, Maine.  North Brother is flanked to the northeast by Fort Mountain, and to the southwest by South Brother; collectively the two are called “The Brothers.”

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mount KATAHDIN

On Labour day weekend, Laura and I traveled to Baxter State Park to hike KATAHDIN.  We were always opposed to doing this hike as pets are not allowed and little Kasper hikes everywhere with us.  Baxter is a really unique park as it was a gift to the people of Maine and has more than 200,000 acres, encompassing its own mountain range.  Baxter State Park is tightly controlled and the amount of people allowed to enter each day is regulated.  Come early if you desire to climb the mountain (even 6AM is at some times too late!) or camp in one of the campgrounds at Katahdin’s base.  Katahdin is the highest mountain in Maine and the northern boundary of the Appalachian Trail.  There are 5 main peaks on the horseshoe, counterclockwise from the north they go: Howe Peak, Hamlin Peak, Baxter Peak (summit), South Peak and Pamola Peak. The most dominant and intimidating feature on Katahdin is the Knife Edge.

We arrived on Thursday night and stayed at the bunkhouse at the Roaring Brook Campground.  We basically touched down at dark and pretty much went straight to bed in our shared bunkhouse with 4 others.  We got an early start and ventured on the Helon Taylor trail to Pamola Peak.  From there we trekked across “The Knife’s Edge” towards the summit of Katahdin know as Baxter Peak.  “The Knife’s Edge” is the most famous hike to the summit, which traverses the ridge between Pamola Peak and Baxter Peak.   For almost 1/2 a mile … the trail is 3 feet wide, with a drop off on either side. Our decent consisted of the Saddle Trail to the Chimney Pond Trail and back to our start point.

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Pollett’s Cove

Pollett’s Cove is a wilderness estuary on the northwest coast of Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia. It is accessible only by boat or on foot via a simple 10 km hike along the coastline from Pleasant Bay, heading north (about 2 hours hike).  It is truly a place to get away from it all.  No cell reception and civilization.

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Mount Adams and Mount Madison

We climbed up the Valley Way trail to Madison Spring Hut nestled between Mount Madison and Mount Adams. There are many hiking trails on the mountains. A stretch of the Appalachian Trail traverses just below the Mount Madison summit on the Osgood Trail. Mount Adams, elevation 5,793 feet above sea level, the second highest peak in the Northeast United States. Like most of the Presidential Range, the summits are above treeline. Due to high winds and low temperatures, hypothermia is a danger even in the summer. The Randolph Mountain Club (RMC) maintains the trails and several huts and shelters high on Mount Adams’ north side, including “The Perch” … we love staying here. A large network of hiking and climbing paths lead south to the huts and ridges from several parking areas located on US Hwy #2.

On our decent we took a new to us trail … The Chemin Des Dames trail just off of the Airline trail descending from Mt. Adams. It is a short trail at only 1/2 mile long but it was a somewhat steep climb down over boulders and over loose rocks. It’s a classic Presidential Range sort of hike.

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Lion’s Head Trail

After completing Huntington’s Ravine Trail and crossing over Mt. Washington’s summit we decided to descend by route of the Lion’s Head Trail.  The Lion’s Head Trail is about the same length as the Tuckerman’s Ravine trail but it is steeper and rougher.  In exchange you get better views and less crowds.

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Huntington’s Ravine Trail

Huntington Ravine is a glacial cirque on Mount Washington in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.  This is our favorite route to Washington’s Summit.  It has the steepest and highest headwall, crosses a boulder field, ascends a collection of broken rock fragments (scree) at the base of a cliff.  Avalanches, icefalls, and hypothermia have killed climbers in Huntington repeatedly in recent years, and the hiking path is usually not passable until late May or early June.

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Franconia Notch (Flooded)

franconia notch mapLaura, Kasper, and I returned to the White Mountains of New Hampshire for our CANADA Day celebrations.  We decided to start our hiking with a traverse along the Franconia Notch.  This is a major mountain pass dominated by Cannon Mountain to the west and Mount Lafayette to the east.  This should take a couple days to complete and then we would continue on to do the Presidential Range.  We started late (3pm) on Sunday, June 30 and decided to climb from trail head to overnight at Liberty Spring Tent site.  We had a great night at Liberty and hit the trail early on CANADA Day Monday as we had a tough 21km trek before our next planned tent site of Guyot.  Unfortunately weather reports were taking a turn for the worse and at 1pm we had to shut it down as Thunder and Lightning were in our near future.  Being above treeline on a mountain ridge is not the place you want to be in a lightning storm.  This really changed our plans and we were only able to complete half of our planned distance.  We bunked down in our tent at the Garfield tent site.  That evening was the most rainfall I have ever experienced.  Reports for over night rainfall amounts were close to 4 inches.  Since we are on a mountain, all the rainfall above us … ran into us.  This was a major amount of water and it completely changed our agenda.  Water was now everywhere, the Appalachian Trail was now a waterfall, and brooks turned into rivers.

Based on how things were stacking up, we decided to bail and plan an escape route and head back up in a couple days after things dry out.  Having to stop early put us behind by 10km, and we would have to make up more ground in slow tough conditions.  Our 2 day plan through the Franconia Notch linking into a 3 day plan through the Presidential Range took a major detour.  We heard on the news of a few deaths in the area because of the tough conditions.  One lady drowned crossing a river and another was swept away without being found.  A fisherman also drowned as he was swept off his feet.

Here are a few pictures from our Franconia Notch Traverse from Liberty Spring Trail to Galehead Hut.

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