Thursday, July 17, 2014

JMT Training Peak 17 of 21: Mt. Meader/Eagle Crag (52WAV). July 17, 2014

What a gorgeous day!  Low humidity, sunny skies...we took advantage of the perfect weather and hiked up Mt. Meader, across Meader Ridge to Eagle Crag, and down Bicknell Ridge Trail.  I'll post a trip report this weekend.

EDIT 7/19/2014 -- Trip report!

Mt. Meader Trail, Meader Ridge Trail, Bicknell Ridge Trail, road walk.  About ten miles total with about 2500 feet of elevation gain.

What a difference low humidity makes!  We've been hiking in hot and humid weather for the past week and a half, and we'd forgotten what it felt like to be comfortable while ascending a peak.  This day's hike was perfect.  I picked up the girls from their camp at noon and drove the two hours north to Evan's Notch.  We parked off Route 113 by the entrance to Mt. Meader Trail and got out of the car...lovely!  Very little humidity and only a few bugs.  We geared up and set off.

The trail begins on an old logging road.

We walked on easy grades and took the short detour 0.9 miles up the trail to check out Brickett Falls.

Mt. Meader Trail is gradual all the way up until the final half mile or so (switchbacks).  We enjoyed this ascent very much -- it never felt steep (except for the last half mile) and it was hard to believe we were ascending a mountain.

The forest felt peaceful up on the switchbacks...magical, even.  Perhaps it was the lack of bugs and heat.

After the last of the switchbacks, we walked through a serene patch of tall pines before hitting the final steep section.

Popping out on some ledges...

Mt. Meader!

We ate some snacks and downed some water, then we moved on.  It felt so lovely up cool and comfortable.  This is the kind of hiking we love best.  High on a ridge, in gorgeous weather, feeling like we're on top of the world.

I have to mention one negative, however, as a warning to others -- just southwest of the intersection on Meader, along Meader Ridge Trail, there is a small scramble in the woods.  Somewhere within those rocks, or along the trail, there is a hornets'/wasps' nest.  One of us must have disturbed it, because I was attacked halfway up that scramble.  Sage was ahead of me, and Alex was behind me...thankfully, Sage was not in the line of fire and the critters didn't seem interested in Alex (or Max)...they just wanted me.  I tossed Max up and over the scramble, shouted, "MOVE QUICKLY!" to the girls, and we launched ourselves up and over that section of trail in record time.  I was only stung twice, and the girls and Max weren't stung at all, so it wasn't that big of an ordeal.  However, to anyone hiking this section of trail in the near future...beware.

Not long afterward, we reached a short spur path to a view.

The view...

Back to the ridge, heading southwest...

I only have a few photos of Meader Ridge Trail, and they don't do the trail justice.  It's a beautiful walk, with viewpoints popping up every now and then.  The area feels peaceful...almost spiritual.  I don't know how else to describe it.  It was a lovely walk on a lovely day.

Here we are, approaching Eagle Crag...

Eagle Crag!

The view toward South Baldface...

We took another break here.  This was such a wonderful moment.  Food, water, scenery, good company.  We didn't want to come down.

Eventually, we meandered over to the intersection with Baldface Circle Trail.

I had been down this trail once before, so I asked the girls if they would mind hiking another 0.2 miles over to Bicknell Ridge Trail, which I hadn't yet experienced.  Alex and Sage were up for it, so we continued along the ridge until we reached the appropriate intersection.

Looking at North Baldface

Bicknell Ridge Trail was GORGEOUS!  We LOVED this descent!  The upper portion has constant views of the ledges on South Baldface...and there were blueberries all over the place!  We soaked in the scenery and ate our way down the mountain.

Once in the trees, the footing on Bicknell Ridge Trail is good and the grades feel moderate to easy.  It's an enjoyable path.

Bicknell Ridge Trail joins Baldface Circle Trail 0.7 of a mile from Emerald Pool.  We stopped by the Pool for a fifteen minute wade.

We reached the trailhead for Baldface Circle Trail at 7:45...

...walked the 0.6 of a mile to our parking spot...

...and were back at our car at 8pm.

This was such a great hike.  The girls loved it, I felt strong, Max was happy, and the wasp stings only hurt for a few minutes.  This was such a nice change from what we've been doing lately (hiking in heat and rushing to get down off the mountain because of incoming storms).  I highly recommend this hike to everyone on the planet.

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