Monday, November 5, 2012

Saddleback & Saddleback, The Horn - 11/3/2012

With 6 peaks left in our journey to complete the New England 4000 Footers, we hoped to knock them out this weekend, but a minor strain in my brother's abdomen at the end of this hike resulted in our weekend ending early. However, we thoroughly enjoyed a nice prelude to winter peakbagging on the Saddlebacks, as we did get to knock two good ones off the list.
Saddleback Mountain lodge
We started at the parking lot near the lodge. We walked up the gravel road, and the trail we were going up was the Green Weaver - we sported blaze orange articles at the start because its hunting season. It was a steady climb and a nice warm-up. From the looks of it, we knew we'd be heading into the clouds and whatever else that would have in store for us. As we climbed further, I couldn't help but think how weird it was to be hiking up a mountain as the snow is slowly starting to creep down the mountain (winter coming). It was like hiking in the true middle of fall and winter in the mountains.
Bill coming up into the clouds 
Snow capped trees and grass!
Once we made it to the road that crosses the top of the mountain, we knew we were close, and we just needed to go a bit further to see where exactly the summit would be. After another push upward we reached the top of the ridge as the wind ripped right over, and quickly we were in a different world. We could just see another incline a summit sign ahead through the fog. We made it to the summit of Saddleback Mountain, and it was awesome and white, and tough to stand still.
Reaching the top of Saddleback Mountain, summit ahead  
Saddleback Mountain summit
After enjoying a few minutes with the summit sign, there is a spot nearby where the trees provided a nice barrier from the wind coming over the mountain. We were able to take a nice break because coming up into cold wind and fog was like a rush, and we needed to re-situate ourselves for the ridge walk across. Once we got going, we realized that this was going to be a little different, as the trail had invisible spots of ice everywhere, but not quite enough to warrant micro-spikes (which we left in the car). Although we didn't get views from these peaks which are known for their views, we were being treated to a nice little teaser of above tree line hiking in winter, which I'm looking forward to, so we were loving it regardless of any views.

There are a few really good spots that offer shelter along the way for breaks, which was good. Shortly after the iron ladder, we reached the summit of Saddleback, the Horn, our 62nd 4000-footer.
Summit of Saddleback, the Horn 
The return trip back across the ridge was identical to the way out there - lots of fun, slips on the ice, and times of snow flurries. We walked a bit further past the summit this time in an effort to descend by the Grey Ghost ski trail, which seems to be the most used trail for this hike. That was evident from the path right down the middle. I must have mistakenly said Grey Goose about 5 times, oh well. We quickly scooted down the trail, back to the gravel road, and then back in front of the lodge. We saw a solo hiker and a pair on the way back from the Horn. All-in-all, it was a pretty fun and quick hike, and nice to get the feel again for these conditions. We drove to the Caribou Valley Road trail head, but as we were getting ready to head up to the Crockers, Bill made the call to postpone due to his pain, so we'll be back up here in a few weeks, and this will get finished before winter.
Grey Ghost ski trail 
Grey Ghost ski trail
Hike Stats
Trails: Grey Ghost ski trail, Tri Color ski trail, unnamed connector trail, Appalachian Trail
Distance: 5.4 miles
Elevation Gain: 3,003 ft.
Actual Book Time: 4hrs 15min


  1. Bummer that you guys couldn't do both hikes! Hope your brother heals up quickly and is back to hiking. Cool hike, though, I think we are all getting antsy for winter to really be here!