Monday, February 8, 2021
Start/end: Appalachian Trail crossing, Stratton, ME
Elevation gain: 3970′
After a day of remote work, I headed to the trailhead and hiked out from the AT trailhead nearby Stratton. There’d been a group of 4 hikers who had broken out the trail the day before, so snowshoes were needed but it was a quick trail (though the track was somewhat narrow and not quite wide enough for my snowshoes). It was perhaps 5 degrees absolute temperature when I left the trailhead, and by the time I made it to the summit of South Crocker in the dark, it was -25 degrees windchill.
I have Raynaud’s in my fingers and toes and I’d had a hard time keeping my hands from staying numb far too long. Raynaud’s puts me at higher risk of frostbite and I’m always painfully aware of this. I was able to get my hands warm again, but it took perhaps 20 minutes of hard hiking and scared me a bit. Once at the summit, I wandered around for 20 minutes, trying to find the bushwhack over to Redington. I eventually found some orange ribbons and yellow paint but wasn’t able to stay on the trail for long before I lost it due to the heavy snow sticking to the trees. Wayfinding was slow work in winter and it was taking me too long, and my feet were starting to go numb along with my hands. I decided that bushwhacking in the dark alone in -25 was a bad idea. So I made the hard decision to turn around and head back without Redington. I’ll have to head back later, but hopefully, I’ll have a full sunny day, warmer temperatures, and a more visible trail.
On my way back down, I fell three times from the narrow trail making me step on my snowshoe straps. I had to slow down to navigate without falling, so it took me a bit longer than usual to get back to the trailhead. Without wind at my car it was -2 when I got to the parking lot, tossed my pack in the car, and drove back to town.