Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Wilson and Breadloaf - July 20, 2013

This day was originally slated to be the day I finished the New England 4000-Footer List, on Mounts Abraham and Ellen in Vermont. But Mother Nature had other ideas, with a large front line slated to move through during the day and threatening to contain heavy and severe thunderstorms, which would pop up off and on all day. Come Friday afternoon, the forecast had improved a little, but not much, so that was put off a day.

Instead, Saturday would be a trek to Mount Wilson and Breadloaf Mountain, 2 peaks on the New England 100-Highest that were only a few miles from Abraham and Ellen. Being wooded peaks close together on a ridgeline, with a shelter situated in between them, this was a good plan B for a potentially sketchy day. The plan was to use the Emily Proctor Trail, which ascends to the ridge and the Emily Proctor Shelter, with less than 1 mile of ridge walking to each peak (in opposite directions along the Long Trail).

Waking up Saturday morning, the forecast had improved a bit more. Theresa had come along again for both hikes, as she needed all 4 peaks scheduled on her pursuit of the Hundred Highest. We were a bit late getting to the trailhead, thanks in part to a missed turn, and then a very rough 0.3-mile section of road leading to the trailhead, but at 10AM we were on-trail, under clear sunny skies. Haha!

Parking lot at the Emily Proctor Trail

There are some primitive campsites at the Emily Proctor Trailhead, free to stay at

At the trailhead, there is a sign pointing up a small hill that says "toilet". This is indeed a toilet...

Entering the Breadloaf Wilderness early on the Emily Proctor Trail. But I wanted to bring my hanglider!
Hanging a right immediately out of the parking lot (straight goes up the Cooley Glen Trail, which goes way far down the ridge from our goal), we made good time on the early portion of the trail. It is easily graded, has good footing, and was a pleasant walk in the woods. As we hiked, we noticed the sky was clouding up, but we had expected to get wet on this hike and there was a shelter ahead if it got really heavy.

Looking upstream at the only major stream crossing on the trail

With a new camera, I played with the shutter speed to blur the water some. I need more practice :)

Another slowed-shutter speed shot of the stream

Trailside artifact, from the logging days perhaps. This thing was 18-24" in diameter.

Looks like some sort of sprocket for a large chain

The last 1.5 or so miles of the trail is where the major elevation gain is. But it is never overly steep, the footing is good, and the trail was in great shape. Before long, we were approaching the shelter, as it started to lightly rain. Arriving to an empty shelter shortly before noon (wow, did we really climb 2000 feet in 3.5 miles in under 2 hours!?), we sat down to have a snack, and as we ate the skies opened up. It rained HARD, so hard we could barely see across the shelter clearing, but we were dry thanks to the shelter. I'm not sure we could have timed that any more perfectly.

Emily Proctor Shelter

Interestingly, I had a decent cell signal at the shelter, and was able to check the radar and see that this was indeed a passing pop-up cell, and that the main front line was still and hour or more behind, in NY state. So once the rain stopped, we packed up from our 45-minute break, and headed off on the Long Trail to Mount Wilson. The Long Trail Guide says that this is a 0.9-mile one-way trip, but it is way less than that (and looks way less on the maps too), we measured around 0.5 miles on the GPS. There is no summit marker aside from a small cairn, but checking the map and the GPS confirmed that this was indeed the summit. There is supposed to be a spur nearby to some views, but we didn't bother looking for it as we could tell there was not going to be anything to see but the inside of a cloud, something we've both seen plenty of times before.

Mount Wilson

At the summit of Mount Wilson

Long Trail at the summit of Mount Wilson - nice treadway
Taking a quick u-turn after the summit photos, we returned to the Emily Proctor Shelter, then continued South on the Long Trail the 0.6 miles to the short spur to the summit of Breadloaf Mountain. A bit rougher of a trail segment than that to Wilson, but still not bad as it was short-lived. Again, another peak in the woods, but we did continue to the abrupt end of the spur as it descends a short way to a limited view point. The clouds were slightly breaking, and we had a couple fleeting views here.

Another u-turn, and another arrival at the Emily Proctor Shelter yielded our first people sighting since we left the trailhead. 2 members of Vermont's Youth Conservation Corps were there, cleaning up trash other hikers/backpackers had left (we had planned to pick some of it up on our way out). We had a nice conversation with these young folks, who seemed to be really loving their summer job. They were also planning to brush in a few false herd paths on their way back down the Emily Proctor Trail. A group of 4 dayhikers also arrived as we were talking, on their way to Breadloaf. That was the extent of the people we saw on this day, a quiet one on the trails.

We took another look at the radar as the front should have been passing about this time, and we were pleasantly surprised to see the front had mostly dissolved in Vermont, and it was in fact right over us at this time (and noticably NOT raining). So, we headed down, and while we felt a brief light sprinkle of rain, by the time we returned to the car, the sun was starting to come back out again. We lucked out nicely on this one, and thanks to some really nice trails, we made great time despite the long stop to wait out the rain cell at lunch time. In fact, we completed this hike in 6 hours, which would be "book time"!

And 2 more checkmarks for both of us. But the next day was to be a nice day, free of the heat wave we've been stuck in, and I was scheduled to finish my New England 4000-Footers!

Route: Emily Proctor Trail, Long Trail (to both Wilson and the Breadloaf Spur), Breadloaf Spur
Peaks: Mount Wilson (3790', NEHH), Breadloaf Mountain (3835', NEHH)
Mileage: 9.4 miles
Elevation Gain: 2700ft
Book Time: 6hr 5 min

No comments:

Post a Comment