The downside to staying at Bear Brook is that everything except the Katahdin trailheads is a long drive. The Marston trailhead at Slide Dam for this hike is over 20 miles and we got an early start in hopes of beating the heat. We left the campground a bit after 5:30 and were on the trail before 7am. Kelly and Peter had decided to sleep in and start later. Knowing how fast they are we knew it wouldn't take long for them to catch up. We did the loop the "usual" way - going counterclockwise so that we'd hit the Coe Slide going up rather than down.
The gang is ready for Coe and the Brothers
The walk in on Marston
Following the brook on the Mt Coe trail
Mt Coe Trail
Hole in the clouds
We can see the Coe Slide ahead
I'm always a bit nervous about anything steep and exposed. I like scrambling and have enjoyed going up almost all of the slide trails that we've done so far (with the exception of O-J-I last year). Everything that I'd read made the Coe slide seem pretty reasonable as long as it was dry. That was definitely the case on this day and it turned out to be much easier than I'd figured. There is just one part near the top where you have to traverse the slabs from left to right that got my attention a bit, but it was fine too. We were at the top of the slide much quicker than we'd expected and soon were on the beautiful open summit of Coe.
Bottom of the slide. Looks greasy. Glad it was dry!
Doubletop peeking out over O-J-I
On the Coe Slide
This part is easier than the slabs
Squaw's Bosom behind Doubletop
Tree hugging is allowed
Top of the slide! Easier than we thought
Still a ways to go to the summit
Roberta doing a little trail maintenance
Mt Coe summit
Doubletop and beyond
The Brothers ahead
Katahdin over the Klondike and the Owl
Nat enjoying the views
First group summit shot of the day
We hung out on Coe for a while taking in the views and figuring that Kelly and Peter would probably show up while we were there. With lots of trail still ahead we decided not to wait too long and headed for South Brother. The hike down the ridge from Coe was just beautiful, as was the walk through the col. It seemed like it took longer than it should to get to the South Brother spur, but we were soon there and scrambling up the few tenths to the summit. We were once again greeted by incredible 360 degree views and our first looks at North Brother and the rest of the route ahead. We took an even longer break up here - it was just so beautiful. Kelly and Peter still hadn't caught us and we were beginning to wonder if they'd changed their plans.
Heading for South Brother
Tons of Mountain Cranberries up here
Brothers from the Coe ridge
Beautiful walk through the col
Nat nearing the summit of South Brother
North Brother ahead
Through the scrub
Julie with Doubletop in the background
Summit sign could use some help
Nat on South Brother
Mt Coe behind us...
...and North Brother ahead
South Brother summit
Here come Roberta and Lori
Lori claiming the summit
The gang on South Brother
Nat looking for the high point
Head in the clouds
A bit of rock hopping
Nat and Mt Coe
Nat and I on South Brother
Show off ;-)
Julie on the high point
The hike was still less than half done, so we gave in and abandoned out views to head for North Brother. On the way down the spur we ran into Kelly and Peter for the first time. They had started two hours after us and were taking their time (and still caught us half way into the hike). They headed up South Brother while we continued on. The section between the Brothers is another nice col with many pretty sections. When we hit the Marston Trail junction the conditions deteriorated a bit. There are many parts that are quite grown in and really need to be brushed. There were a few times that we felt more like we were bushwhacking (well, not really). The climb up North Brother from the col is only about 700' but there's quite a bit of boulder scrambling and it goes somewhat slowly. The last couple of tenths is through the alpine scrub and then up the rockpile to the summit - just beautiful! The views from the summit were perhaps the best of the day. These are three really gorgeous peaks to be able to hit on the same day.
Heading for North Brother
Another pretty col
North Brother ahead
Starting up the rock pile
Last steps into the sky
Nat on North Brother
We fixed the sign!
Roberta, Julie and Lori arrive at the top
Fort ahead and the Travelers in the distance
Lori having "second lunch"
Northwest Basin and Klondike Pond (?)
Julie on North Brother
Lori on North Brother
Nat and I on North Brother (NE67 #62 for her and #61 for me)
The gang on North Brother
We looked at Fort from the summit of North Brother and sort of half heartedly talked about the idea of going over. Nobody really had any desire for it though. Perhaps someday if we decide to the the hundred highest we'll wish we had, but I didn't feel any need that day. We had expected Kelly and Peter to show up while we were still on the summit of North Brother, but they had apparently taken a long break on South (and why not). About half way back down from the summit we met them again on their way up. Would have been nice to get some summit time with the whole gang together, but it just didn't work on that way. It's still almost 5 miles to go from North Brother back to the trailhead, so we pushed on. It was a bit hotter during the afternoon but still much better than I'd expected. I usually hate long downhill sections, but somehow I got my second wind (and legs) and was actually leading the way for a bit near the bottom (which never happens). We made it back to the car just before 4:30 - making the total time about 9-1/2 hours. Within 5 minutes Kelly and Peter showed up, beating our time by two hours (as I would have expected). I'm not really sure about the total mileage for this loop - there are known mistakes on a couple of the maps and even the trail signs don't agree. My GPS said that it was 10.5 miles with about 4100' of elevation gain, which seems about right. It wound up being an awesome day and the perfect warm-up for our Hamlin hike that was still to come...
Still a few miles to go
No-name pond on the Marston Trail
North Brother over the pond
Nice section of Marston
Good place to cool off on a hot day
The interactive GPS track is here: http://www.gpsies.com/map.do?fileId=rswzhazjlpniwtxb