Tuesday, February 5, 2013

East Haven Mountain

From our East Burke camp on any cold morning, a large frost covered mountain occupies the landscape off to the northeast. Before finding its official name on the topo map, Kevin and I referred to it as Frost Mountain. It is actually 3031 foot East Haven Mountain. It lies in the middle of heavily wooded hilly  terrain and there are no maintained trails to its summit.

Kevin and I have been exploring the woods between our camp and this mountain for some time now. Last Sunday, Scout and I left camp early to get some running miles in on the hard packed snow. We ran old logging roads, a short bushwhack, and snowmobile trails. It was hillier than I remembered so I was worried we wouldn't make it back to our rendezvous point in time to meet Kevin, who was doing a more direct bushwhack hike in. So I pushed the pace and enjoyed hearing my heart thumping in my chest for a change (I don't usually push very hard out on the trails). Scout and I made it to the meet up spot but saw no sign of Kevin so we started slowly back along the tote road, listening for tell-tale crunching off in the woods. And there it was, almost immediately, crunching of snow and snapping of twigs. These woods are so still and quiet we could hear him from a long way off. We kept moving slowly along the road in hopes of intercepting him as he stepped out onto the road. We only missed him by about 15 feet!

From there we set off for East Haven Mountain. The temperature was a mild 20 degrees, the sky was clear and blue, and the woods were beautiful. Scout scampered about with energy to spare. There had been a dusting of snow the night before so we saw a million snowshoe hare tracks, fox tracks, deer and moose tracks, and ground bird tracks. We followed the snowmobile trail in a direction we hadn't been before and then branched off onto an old tote road which seemed to head in the right direction. We were gaining altitude steadily and definitely moving closer and closer to the mountain!

Then we started noticing a few drops of blood in Scout's paw prints. We are having trouble finding booties that will stay on his feet. His feet are too big for the extra large size! So this day he was out without booties. He would have been fine if he stayed on the hard packed snow, but he likes to go crashing around on the brambles and brush where the crusty snow beaks away under his feet. Soon we noticed BIG drops of blood and called him back to us. He was happy as ever and not limping at all, but he had torn a nail off one of his paws and it was oozing blood pretty badly. I took off my hat and used it to hold pressure until the bleeding slowed down. Kevin checked our altitude and saw it was 2200 feet. We took one last look up at the summit, sighed, and  started back.

And that's the way it is with these hikes off the beaten trail. But at least we know how to get there now. The topo map shows the tote road not going all the way to the summit, but it will get us pretty darned close. Next time Scout will have something on his feet, even if its only duct tape!

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