9/21 Poplar Ridge Lean-to (8.9)

October 16, 2013 at 1:19 pm

IMG_20130921_101824_732Today was amazing!  We crossed the Saddleback range, which had some of the best views of the entire trip.  Maine has been even more beautiful than NH, in a way, because of how wild it is.  The views of the landscape from Maine’s peaks are uninterrupted by the visual noise of highways running like veins across the terrain and developed settlements pockmarking the land.  The panoramas are sweeping and broken only by the rivers and lakes that create natural divisions.

IMG_20130921_103706_580We ascended Saddleback early with the whole group, and climbed above the morning clouds, which still lingered in the valleys.  The cloud sea was the best one we have seen yet, covering the whole East side of the range as if the world ended there.  As we came down the other side towards the Horn, we got to witness the clouds commuting through the pass in the mountains.  The wind was blowing strong from the East and was pushing the clouds through the notch in the mountains so that they made a great white arc like a rainbow over the lowest point.  We stood there for a long time watching as one valley filled and the other emptied, creating a surreal effect.

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The ridge was exposed and reminded us of Franconia, only more gradual and forgiving in its terrain.  We spent so much time taking pictures and exploring on top that, despite our early start, we reached Poplar Ridge in the later afternoon.

IMG_20130921_115341_081We were torn about what to do – everyone at the shelter was hunkered down looking cozy, and there was a forecast of rain tonight.  If we pushed on, it would mean more miles but we would probably be hiking in the rain and wake up to a wet tent.  So, we decided to stay.  Good thing, because Greenlite and First Gear finally caught us!  They had done a few long days to catch up to us, and now they were blowing by to meet up with a friend at the next road crossing.  They fearlessly hiked on into the night rain while we stayed warm and dry in the packed shelter.

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