Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Coe and the Brothers

When we came to Baxter Bash this year we only had two specific hikes in mind.  Nat and I have been working our way through the NE67 since we finished the NH48 last fall and we had Hamlin and North Brother still on the list in Baxter.  They're both long hikes with considerable steep rocky sections (this is Baxter after all) so the weather would be the deciding factor as to whether we got them in.  There was definitely not a weather problem on this week though - not a single day of rain.  We decided to go for Coe and the Brothers on Wednesday, hoping to get an even nicer day for Hamlin toward the end of the week as it was supposed to get cooler and drier by then.  The forecast for Wednesday was sunny with highs in the mid-80s which was going to make for a long hot day.  As it turned out, the heat wasn't that much of a factor as we had a good breeze on all the summits and temps were not bad in the trees.

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

Pretty steep!

Squaw's Bosom behind Doubletop

Almost there...

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

Katahdin views

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

Getting close

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...

Headin' down

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

Heading out...

The interactive GPS track is here:

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