Sunday, February 7, 2021
Start/end: Saddleback ski resort
Elevation gain: 2971′
Saddleback was a wonderfully easy experience compared with Sugarloaf. The parking lot was close to the lodge, with portable toilets in the parking lot by the lodge. I quickly bought my ticket at the window, and the uphill access signs started right by the lodge and were easy to follow.
Saddleback’s uphill route was lovely. It’s fully packed down (skis or snowshoes required, with frequent signs reminding you of the fact) and a nice walk through the woods without having to worry about uphill traffic. From the top of the ski area, it’s very clear where the trail up to Saddleback starts, with a handy sign telling you that beyond this sign is out of bounds for the ski area. It was fully packed out to the summit of Saddleback, due to backcountry skiers. From Saddleback over to the Horn, it was hard, but possible, to follow the tracks from yesterday’s hikers. It was a mix of drifted power, ice, and partially packed powder. The winds on the Horn and Saddleback were ~35 MPH, but in the col between the wind was fairly calm. And heading back down the Uphill Access trail on the ski mountain was a relaxing way to end the day.
On my way to the summit, just before I left the ski resort boundary, I ran into Jessica – she had hiked to the summit of Sugarloaf but was hesitant to hike over to the Horn without a companion. I asked her if she’d like to come with me and she enthusiastically said yes. So we hiked together from Saddleback over to the Horn and then waved goodbye just shy of the summit of Saddleback, since I was hiking out at a much faster pace. We were able to connect later through a Maine hiking Facebook group and share our joy at finding a hiking buddy out on the mountain!