On Saturday, April 6th, Frosty and I went to Burnt Mountain. On that day, we were unable to finish our hike. We had gotten a phone call while hiking about a family problem. It wasn’t a serious problem, but was time consuming to deal with. We weighed our options at that time: continue on to the summit or turn around at that moment. Since, the summit was in the clouds, we decided to stop and head back.
The next weekend, April 13th, we headed back to Burnt Mountain. This time our friend, Christine, joined us.We parked at the Sugarloaf Mountain Ski Resort. We got there early because we knew it was going to be crowded. It was Reggae Fest at Sugarloaf. We decided not to take the shuttle, and walk up to the Base Lodge area. We walked through some condo parking lots to the trail head for Burnt Mountain.
We hiked in bare boots on the firmly packed trail. Last week, we missed the winter bypass that avoids the stream crossings. We found the bypass on our way down last weekend. We didn’t miss it this weekend. The bypass leads up to a ski trail.
We continued on the ski trail until we reached a sign for the Burnt Mountain Trail. I took a few steps and sunk into the snow. I tried to yank my foot out of the snow. It came out after a few pulls, but just my foot! My boot and gaiter were still in the snow! After Frosty pulled my boot out, we all put on our snowshoes.
The stream looked very picturesque tumbling through snow-covered boulders. Icicles hanging on the edges of the stream.
We kept trekking through the woods in the general direction of up and over toward the col. We saw the blue blazed trail in places, and in other areas we lost it for awhile. There are backcountry ski trails all through this area. Tracks go all over.
We stopped at an area that had a nice view of Sugarloaf. In this same spot, there was also a tree that was scraped bare on one side by a moose rubbing his antlers against it.
We kept skirting across toward the col for quite awhile. Then Frosty spotted “the rope” which ended the “where’s the trail portion of our hike.” The rope leads snowshoers up to the summit.
When we popped up above tree line, we were treated to a wonderful view of Sugarloaf and the Bigelows. There was a faint rainbow over the valley below.
Soon, we started feeling sporadic raindrops. The rain started in earnest. We stopped and put on layers for both the wind and rain. I think the rain would have been a light trickle, but the wind had really picked up. We were now being pelted with an annoying wind driven rain.
The snow was running out, so we took off our snowshoes and headed up the final stretch toward the summit following the rope. I walked mostly on the rocks, but I did step off the rocks onto what looked like firm gravel. It looked like firm gravel, but felt like melted ice cream when I stepped on it.
Luckily, the rain stopped before we got to the summit. With the wind, it dried our coats out pretty fast. The views at the summit were great. The clouds lifted off the mountaintops. We could see so many mountains from here.
The wind was wild! It was pushing us around. The winds were reported to be sustained at 45 miles an hour with gusts up to 50 mph. We were stumbling against it! My eyes were streaming with tears from the wind even though I had sunglasses. The tears made it hard to see the screen on my camera.
I quickly put on my face mask, and Frosty put goggles. Christine had to change out of her cap. It had blown off in the wind. Luckily, she was able to grab it back.
Burnt has an incredible view in every direction. We could see so many 4000 footers! We didn’t spend a super long time at the summit due to the wind. We headed back down to where we had left our snowshoes. This area was in the alpine zone, but the winds were less intense as we dropped off the knoll. Frosty looked over at me strangely. In my haste to put my face mask on, I had put it on upside down! We strapped our snowshoes back on and had a snack.
The temperatures were warming up fast. As we approached the wooded section again, we changed out of our rain/wind layers. Our snowshoes were sliding on some of the steep sections and postholing on some of our steps as the snow got softer and softer.
That’s another reason we started early, to avoid rotten snow. The trip down was much faster, since we weren’t playing where’s the trail. Some skiers had gone over our tracks in places. We saw a few backcountry skiers from afar, and a family skinning up. We didn’t see any other hikers. Last weekend, we had seen six, including a baby in a carry pack.
After returning to the vehicle and dropping our gear, we decided to head up to the lodge. We took a shuttle to the lodge this time, but first we had to tour the parking areas and access road. The parking lots were all full and cars were parked on the access road all the way to the highway. This being Maine, and mud season, the massive frost heaves made the bus ride like a carnival ride.
The base lodge area was bustling and crowded. Although, I heard the party grows as the day wanes. We ended up eating at the cafeteria. The other restaurants we checked out had a long wait. We enjoyed our view of the Bigelow range while eating. There were a number of people in fun costumes enjoying the music and fun atmosphere. As we were leaving, we met a 2018 thru hiker, Twister, camping in the parking lot with his friends. It was a great day!