Sunday, October 21, 2018
Start/end: GPS pin
So after having to deal with three very drunk wedding guests returning to the bunk room at 11pm and attempting to loudly camp out on the floor drinking wine from the bottle… I was up at 6am this morning. I packed up and headed out by 6:30am.
I drove the hour and a quarter to the border and then crossed into Canada with little trouble (‘No sir, that’s not a beer I just drank. That’s a blueberry soda from last night’). However, after driving another 20 minutes to get to the ranger station, 10 miles from where I would start my hike, the ranger laconically told me that the park was closed to hikers for hunting season, but I could return when they opened again tomorrow. I left, a bit shell-shocked, and drove further down the road to see if I could sneak in; however, there was a locked gate so no dice.
I drove back to the border crossing, and then spent the next 30 minutes answering the invasive questions of Homeland Security goons. Our casual chats included them grilling me (where did I live, did I meet up with anyone in Canada, why was I only there for 45 minutes, had I ever been stopped before, etc) and searching the truck; apparently, they were suspicious of me driving a rental pickup truck, even after I handed them the complete rental agreement and receipt and explained why. It was incredibly stressful, and I was already wound really tight.
Once they allowed me to reenter the country, I then spent the next two hours trying to find a place on the US side that I could bushwhack up to the border swath. I retraced my drive, and fought with Google Maps, which kept trying to send me down gated private logging roads.
I finally found a logging road that went within ~0.5 mile of the border swath; I parked the truck there around 11am, and using a combination of my GPS app and Google Maps, I bushwhacked up to the border swath and then started hiking towards the peak.
I had to go up three sharp inclines (think double black diamond steep) before the final climb up to Boundary Peak. Along the way, there was a long flat area that was very swampy and wet; I broke through once into mud up to my shin. Thankfully, because it was so cold, the mud was thick enough that it didn’t penetrate my boot and get my foot wet. I saw more than 2 dozen moose blinds/tree stands; thankfully, I saw no hunters. I think it was because it was the last day of moose season, on a Sunday, and had been very nice (50s) the past two days. Also, at the base of the mountain, it was 25 degrees and at the top of the mountain, it was 18 degrees. To add to the fun, the wind was blowing at 35 miles an hour, and there were snow flurries all day. With wind chill factored in, it was -3 degrees at the summit. I did have the unfortunate experience of learning exactly what decomposing moose carcass smells like, from the remains of a field dressed moose (I did take pictures, but I won’t include them here…).
Once I finally got to the summit, I took a few pictures, and then scurried back the way I’d come, trying to stay warm (my water bottle froze shut by the time I got back to the truck). I still had to reclimb the opposite side of all the elevation I’d lost on my way there. The final incline was incredibly steep and I was so very tired, but I made it up and then hoofed it back to my car, after finding a much nicer way to bushwhack back down. I got back to the truck around 3pm, and then started driving back to Portland Airport to drop off the truck and pick up my car.
I managed to average 2.4 MPH, which felt amazingly speedy, given the alternating of very marshy flat areas and very steep climbs on the boundary swath. Perhaps it was my terrified adrenaline spikes as I worried about border patrol and potentially being shot by hunters thinking I was a moose. See the orange backpack? Moose don’t have orange backpacks. And I’d like to think I’m not that clumsy!
Over 48 hours, I hiked 28.6 miles and climbed 9399′ of elevation gain, and drove for 12 hours on backcountry logging roads. But I finished the New England Hundred Highest! It’s been a wild ride.