100 Mile Wilderness, Day 5 (Carl A. Newhall Lean-To to Logan Brook Lean-To)

White Cap
(Note: this is part five of a multi-part series on the summer 2017 attempt at the 100 Mile Wilderness by dad, 40, and daughter, 11)
The 4th of July, 2017 was our 5th day on the 100 Mile Wilderness, and we logged 7.2 miles.  We started tired, as we had ended late, the tent site was not level for sleeping, and the people around us got up very early and loudly.  Daughter had some stomach distress today, and we mentally went through what we had both eaten, as well as the water filtration system, but could not figure out the cause.  Either way, daughter said she was done with both oatmeal and pepperoni, two of our breakfast/lunch staples thus far.
We waited in the morning to have our coffee/hot chocolate, and brewed it when we got to the top of Gulf Hagas Mountain, which was a morale boost.  We refilled our water at a cold, clear spring by the Sidney Tappan Campsite, and enjoyed the cold drink.
A steady rain kicked in as we hiked West Mountain, Hay Mountain, and White Cap Mountain, and daughter hiked in her poncho (dad’s was useless- more on that later).
To mix things up, we made a hot lunch by substituting our dinner meals for the pepperoni/cheese roll-ups we had been eating.  We cooked the pouches during a break on Hay Mountain, and ate them at the top of White Cap.  We were both disappointed at being clouded in at White Cap, as we had been looking forward to the 4th of July views from the summit, which the MATC guide listed as “some of the best in the state.”
We didn’t see Katahdin, or anything else, due to the wet rain and clouds, but daughter flexed her muscles for a summit photo and we headed down the mountain to the Logan Brook Lean-To, arriving in the early afternoon.  The rain was intensifying, and we searched fruitlessly for a good, level campsite.  This was complicated by the massive amounts of moose droppings littering the area.
It began pouring, and daughter sat in the lean-to with some other hikers while dad set up the tent in the best spot he could find (still not very good).  Daughter got into the tent and immediately fell asleep, and I tried to set up our gear to dry out and pumped some filtered water into our hydration systems.  While daughter napped, dad wrote down our gear reviews thus far:
     – We both love our Osprey backpacks- just wish daughter’s had an external pouch for the hydration system like dad’s does.  Would also love a waterproof map case on one of the straps, for easy access.  Our pack rain covers are great for keeping everything dry.

 

– Our ponchos are awful.  Dad’s literally ripped (hood almost off) the first day, at the first campsite, and we would definitely spend more money on good raingear.

     – We both love the JetBoil stove, which doesn’t use much fuel, and heats water almost instantly.
     – Our Outdoor Research Stuff Sacks are awesome- we keep food and clothing in them, and the food bags can be suspended as bear bags- even in the rain, they keep everything dry.
     – Our beach towel-size PackTowls are perfect- lightweight and quick-drying, and we can wrap them around clothing at night to make makeshift pillows.
     – Our Kelty tent is extremely easy to set up, and has kept us dry in the rainy weather, even the crazy thunderstorms.
     The White Cap range was the last of the real mountains in our path, and we were excited to make some mileage on the flatter ground, with our packs lighter from food being eaten, and hoping for a break in the weather.  Dad’s handwritten notes for the day ended with “Wet weather has been a major factor so far.”

Megunticook Loop at Camden Hills State Park

Camden Harbor and West Penobscot Bay from Mount Megunticook
Camden Harbor and West Penobscot Bay from Mount Megunticook

Midcoast hiking means dramatic ocean views.  We first explored Camden Hills State Park in April 2017, when we started our 100 Mile Wilderness Training with a relatively short (5.4 mi) and moderate 3 hour hike- the Megunticook Loop at Camden Hills State Park, via the Mt. Megunticook (10 on map), Ridge (3 on map), Slope (9 on map), and Multi-Use (11 on map) Trails.  The idea for this hike (and many others) came from the indispensable 10th edition of the Maine Mountain Guide , which we have dog-eared and highlighted, as it is an incredible wealth of knowledge (Amazon link is to the new and improved 11th edition, and you can read about all the updates here).  Parking is easy, and a small fee is charged for entrance.

Camden Hills State Park map for Mount Megunticook
Camden Hills State Park map for Mount Megunticook

It was a good opportunity to test out some of our new equipment, in unexpectedly snowy conditions – the bulk of the hike was done through deep, crusty snow and sheets of ice.

Icy stream, Mount Megunticook
Icy stream, Mount Megunticook

In addition, we had our cousin, an experienced hiker, with us, as well as our wife/mom, a um, not-so-experienced hiker (her meal for the trail was a Ziploc bag of peapods, which she accidentally stepped on in the parking lot).

This loop had some great views along the way, particularly from Ocean Lookout, but not much to see at the top. It was a fairly easy climb, but we would recommend doing it in the late spring, summer, or fall. The trails were well-maintained and this loop had a gravel path for parts of the way. With an elevation of 1385 feet, it was a steady climb for most of the way up.

Camden Harbor and West Penobscot Bay from Mount Megunticook
Camden Harbor and West Penobscot Bay from Mount Megunticook

This was the first time we tried our packs. For dad, an Osprey Xenith 75L pack, with an Osprey UltraLight Raincover, XL. For daughter, an Osprey Ace 50 Night Youth 50L pack (it has a built-in raincover).  We equipped each with an Osprey Hydraulics 3L reservoir, for hydration.  Obviously, we didn’t need packs or a hydration bladder of that size for this hike, but they are so well made, we chose to just fill them with less water.

We also got to try out our JetBoil stove- a freeze-dried meal of Chili Mac at the top required heating.  Due to dad’s disdain for instruction manuals, the stove spewed gas noisily for several minutes before we figured it out (dad’s fault, not the stove, which we found to be excellent).

A brief cautionary tale- we have probably undersold the difficulty of hiking in the snow present on Megunticook.  Wife/mom had issues with wet shoes/socks, and our mountaintop dining was cut short by a speedy descent.  Dad/daughter agreed that the extra time heating/mixing made the Chili Mac better.

Either way, cheap food and good beer at Marshall Wharf Brewing Company made for a great after-hike stop on the Belfast waterfront.

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