Wednesday, August 24, 2011

2011.08.21 Mt. Carrigan

So is it Mt. Carrigan or Mt. Carrigain?  The evening before this hike we were at a steak fry dinner with about 50 members of our Church.  It was a great evening of fellowship and conversation!  A few in attendance know how Sue and I love to hike and so they were asking about our upcoming adventures.  Whenever I would tell one of them that we were going to hike Mt. Carrigain the following morning, the looks returned were questioning.  Frankly I was questioning the pronunciation of the name of this mountain, a mountain which I was not familiar with.  During the evening someone eventually told me it was pronounced Carrigan, regardless of its spelling.

Turns out I am not the only one confused.  Take a look at the following photos:
Note how this trail sign is clearly spelled CarriGAIN

 On the other hand, this trail sign is spelled CarriGAN.
But, look even closer. Someone has scratched an "i" into this wooden sign between the letters A and N.  Clearly I am not the only one confused.  And, it gets worse.  Check out the next photo.

Those two signs are on the same tree!
So the mystery remains.  Is it Carrigan or Carrigain?

Now more about our hike.

This was a 10-mile round trip hike where we went in and out on the same trail.  The summit elevation is 4,700' and we started at 1,400' for a 3,300' elevation gain.  The first 2.2 miles of this trail is essentially flat having an elevation gain of only 500 feet.  The real hike is the last 2.8 miles.  The entire hike took us exactly 8-hrs.  Conditions may have caused us to finish a little quicker than normal. 

Why you did I say we may have finished more quickly than normal?  One word, thunderstorms.  A strong storm began rolling in at about 3:30 PM and we could hear the thunder becoming closer and louder by the minute.  By 4:00 PM it began to rain and it grew from a mere sprinkle to an all out downpour within a few short minutes.  It was so bad for a time that the rain was coming in sheets.  The wind was blowing, my eyeglasses were fogging up, the trail was puddling and even my rain gear became ineffective.  We hiked as fast as we could and arrived at the car at about 4:45.

We made a bad choice along the way.  We carry backpack covers to keep our gear dry when it rains.  When we took out our rain gear (jackets) we decided to forgo the backpack covers.  Bad idea.  Every stinking thing in my pack became soaked.  The trials and tribulations of hiking in New England.

Let's look at a few photos:

During each hike I enjoy capturing a photo or two of some sort of vegetation.  This week it was some interesting green moss (at least I think it is moss versus grass).  The next photo zooms in on this patch.

This area of the forest was rather spooky.  These red pines made for an eerie backdrop.

Before reaching the summit of Mt. Carrigan you first reach Sawyer Ridge.  On this ridge I found our Christmas tree for next December.  A little garland, a few ornaments and a white angel on top and it will be awesome!

Our first open views from Sawyer Ridge.

We are going to cross the ridge straight ahead of us (you can see a portion of the trail in this photo) and then we will climb the rest of the way to the summit.  If you look closely at the peak you can see the fire tower we will later climb.  I wish we could go straight up to the tower but the trail will instead take us all the way around the left side of the mountain for the final ascent.

Here is a piece of the story that is somewhat disturbing.  The yellow highlighted trail in the image above is the trail in and out that we had taken.  See the other trail that loops way, way around and then arrives at the same summit from the other direction?  Well, that trail is 8-miles longer than the direction we took.  Why is that important?

Within a few minutes of our hike starting this morning, a group of five clearly experienced hikers passed us on the trail.  Several hours later I found we had arrived at the summit within minutes of each other.  I was feeling pretty good about myself.

We all sat on the upper deck of the fire tower and had lunch and conversed.  It was then that I learned they had taken the much longer hike around and still arrived at the same time we did.  How embarrassing!  How depressing!

What follows are several photos I took from the fire tower at the summit of Mt. Carrigan; or is it Mt. Carrigain?

I've always wondered about sections like that in the photo above.  It is a very rugged trail with large stones and boulders somewhat randomly laid.  The question is, were they laid or is this natural.  As I look left and right into the woods there are similar stones but seemingly only a few.  Did someone actually move all of these stones into the path?  Or, is it that stones like this exist in the woods but they are covered by a forest floor made up of decades worth of pine needles and leaves?  Certainly there are times where it is perfectly clear the stones were laid by man to make a long lasting trail but, in areas such as that above it is simply not clear to me.  Natural or man-made...

There were a number of switchbacks on this trail and in many cases some hard working crews had repositioned stones to literally make steps at the corners.  Who does this stuff?

Carrigan or Carrigain; that is the question.


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