Wednesday, June 9th.
It was pretty cold overnight. Dennis had another uncomfortable time of it.
Having been there twice before, but with no time to do anything, today was my
big chance to actually hike Mount Carleton. It's not real tall at 820 meters,
but its the tallest mountain in New Brunswick and I think the Maritimes in
general. This is what I was here for.
There are two trails to the top, the longer harder West trail and the shorter,
easier East trail. The park ranger had suggested West up, East down, which made
sense, so that's what we tried:
The lower part of the West trail was all rocks, roots, and mud:
After about a kilometer of this, Dennis decided to bail. He hadn't been hiking
in a while and felt like he was holding me up, so he wandered around for a bit
longer, went back to the start, and spent his day wandering around the rest of
the park on his bike and hanging out at the campsite.
He made a wise choice. The trail continued to be rocky, rooty, and muddy until
you got to this point, where you had to make a choice:
Naturally I chose the Massive, Hairy, Pendulous route over the Tiny Peckered
Nancy Boy route.
Well, like all good hikes, they made you work for it:
and when you got to this, you're really glad to be almost through the boulder
fields, with the summit in sight:
But they fool you. You get up to the top in the previous picture and discover
it's not the summit. You still have to get up here:
which entails hiking down into a saddle and then up this:
but you finally get to the top, where there's a fire tower that hasn't been in
use since 1968:
The view all around is spectacular:
that last one being from the grafittied upper windows of the fire tower, looking
back at the false summit.
I had caught up with the tail end of a school group from St. Leonard, NB, but
they had all left by the time I had lunch:
And of course there was no one there to take my picture by then, so I had to do
What was funny about that was that I had set up the camera on a little
Gorilla-Pod tripod and set the shutter delay for 10 seconds. Well, I damn near
killed myself trying to hop down the rocks to get into the picture in time and
get composed. Later I discovered I could set the delay for as much as 30
seconds, which would have been a lot safer!
As I started down, I ran into a young couple from Montreal who had been hiking
one of the spur trails. They said they had come up the "Fire Road," and I
thought "What? Road??" to myself. Turns out the shorter, East Trail that I was
on for the trip down was actually the old road that brought supplies to the
little cabin about 1/2 a kilometer down from the summit where the fire wardens
used to stay. It was incredibly gentle, especially compared to the West Trail:
It was also pretty boring, but it would have been a way for Dennis to get to the
top if we had known how easy it was ahead of time.
I was pretty tired and hot by the time I got down (I was still wearing my long
underwear from the chilly morning), so I walked fully clothed into Lake Nictau
and splashed around to cool off and "wash" my clothes. My reading glasses (which
were in my shirt pocket) are at the bottom of Lake Nictau as a result. It was
really cold, but really refreshing.
Dinner, some wine, some cribbage, and an early bedtime. I slept like a
rock. Dennis froze, again.
That was a great day and a great hike. (Only 22 miles of riding, just to the
trail head and back to camp.)
More to come.