View Northeast from the summit of Carrigain
Mount Carrigain 4700'
Sawyer River Road and Signal Ridge Trail
14 miles 3800' Elevation gain
Kevin, Judy, Emma and a cast of thousands!
This trip was punctuated with several exclamation points. It marked my third attempt at climbing this hill, third times the charm. It was a chance to get together with several trail acquaintances who we have met through the hiking forums, some old, some new. It was great to see everyone again and to meet the rest of you if even for only a moment. But... most notably, it was Jude's triumphant return to hiking the winter 4k's! Due to a home situation where we were not comfortable leaving my mom on her own and to Jude not feeling very well herself Emma and I had been left on our own to peck away at the list. We haven't done too well, bagging only two and turning back on Carrigain a few weeks ago, but that's the nature of the beast. Things have to go your way in the mountains, especially in winter.
Well, this day, they did. On the hike in along Sawyer River Road there was a nice hard crust to walk on and nary a snowmobile to smell or duck from. There were several groups on their way to Carrigain to pack trail and stop and chat with. The weather was cold and crisp, but not frigid, and the sky was a beautiful azure blue all day. Out of the wind the sun warmed you so it was not necessary to stay completely bundled up. The snowbridges were all solid and in place so no swimming this time.
Though it was long and hard, the views from Signal Ridge and from the summit were astounding. While crossing the ridge the gusting wind was freezing my face but I still lingered to take photos and take in the stark beauty. Back in the woods the wind couldn't reach me and the constant work and persistent sun quickly warmed me back up.
Five miles in at the start of the climb Jude had her moment of doubt where she thought maybe she could not go on. She took the car keys from me and gave me the dog's food. "Go on, I'm done. I'll wait for you at the car." I said I'd return with her. "No, you can't turn back again. You and Emma go get this one." We started away. After a few hundred feet I looked over my shoulder. There she was trudging along behind us. Tough as nails. Not only does she make it, but she beats me to the summit by several minutes. As I make the final approach I meet her and Emma a few minutes below the tower. She always beats me in winter. She goes into a zone. I spend too much time taking pictures and sucking wind.
I romped around the summit and took more pictures. Shared some laughs with some of the others and headed down to catch Jude and Emma. Crossing back across the ridge the wind was now at my back and I stopped again to take several more pictures. Dropping back down into the trees I stopped and got out some food and ate on the descent. I finally caught up with Jude and Emma at the bottom of the switchbacks. There, now we could hike together again!
The winter 4K's are full of challenges and today was no exception. Fortunately the mountain gods smiled on us and let us rise to the challenge of this long, difficult hike. Everything was back in place at the finish. The three of us could check off another W4K, and we did it more or less together! Kudos to all the folks that made this hike yesterday. It was a lot of work and took a lot of perseverance. Good job! The one negative to the day was Jude's camera fell off her pack.
If anyone found a Nikon Coolpix 5600 in a black case alongside Sawyer River Road please drop us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org Thanks!