Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Return to Ethan Pond Blackfly edition

Yes I was here 2 weeks ago. Read about it here,

Never a dull moment when shopping for THE Beginner Backpack

New sign
Yeah, I know you want to know all about my trip to Greenleaf and why you should never drive slow when surrounded by hungry state troopers.  But first let’s talk about the need for Permethrin and long pants/shirts.  And a head net for good measure.  Blackflies are out and DEET is more of an attractant than repellent.  Blackfly don’t care.  Blackfly don’t give a shit.  But if your clothes are treated with Permethrin they will not bother you there.  And you can watch them die when they invade your treated tent.  Treated headnet, again attractant.  Yes, it is blackfly season.  Add in mosquitoes, ticks, and other things and you wonder why anyone would leave the house.  As someone who had to make ER visits due to bug bites, you would think that was where I was this weekend.  NOPE.  I returned to Ethan Pond and stayed the night.  In between, I had a view of my FAVORITE section of the Whites.  All part of the Beginner Backpack.

Happy campers
I always do the slow group because, well, I am slow.  Last year was Coppermine Shelter behind Cannon.  We took 3 people (it was more, but you know...rain.)  Up to Ethan Pond on a sunny, warm, humid day.  FUN.  My back was a good 5+ pounds heavier than the trip a few weeks back.  And if you know this trail, it starts steep.  No nice warm up.  Just up.  But I made it and was pretty good at figuring out where the junctions were.  I had most of them down cold.  You know, like I had been there before or something.  The trip to the campsite was not so bad, but the bugs were.  OH MY GOD THE BUGS.  They were everywhere.  DEET, Picaridin, Lemon Eucalyptus, all completely ineffective.  I had to resort to the headnet.  We stored food, set up tents and headed to Thoreau Falls.  Few people enjoyed the beauty of Ethan Pond.  Oh, well except for the shelter caretakers and a conservation officer/angler.  

With the bugs, it was in tents.
Painted Trilliums were everywhere.  And some Trout Lilies were opening too.  And the score of the trip...a yellow Lady Slipper.  There was Bunchberry and some purple thing too.  We had a slip on the way to the falls, so 2 went back.  The rest of us cruised on the mostly flat trail.  Green, lovely, bug laden.  The best part, aside from the terrain, Thoreau Falls is in the Pemi.  Yes, the Pemigewasset.  Only the best wilderness EVAH.  The ankle twister rocks were worth it.  The bog bridges were worth it.  Did I ever mention all the bog bridges?   

Remember this?

Now, you are probably thinking to yourself, aren’t you at war with Thoreau?  Impossible, he is a passivist. Confused? Katahdin trip.  But something about the Pemi cures all.  The falls are not roaring cascades like other places in the Whites, but the view more than makes up for it.  I easily recognized Bond, Guyot, I am not too sure of the others, but South Twin and Zealand had to be in there somewhere.  We just chilled for a while and enjoyed some awesome Falls brownies that Stephanie made.  It was wonderful...just wonderful.  Sadly, we had to leave to make dinner.  Headnet went back on as we raced back to camp.

I LOVE the Pemi


Stephanie gives the falls two thumbs up

Obligatory Pemi pose, minus 3K feet

Hannah walks over the wobbly bridge

We were honored to be joined by this year’s shelter caretakers.  They are a great bunch of kids.  One, I believe she is at Guyot, is in NH for the first time.  And they actually brought more heavy food than we did.  And their stove...a cast iron beast.  We warmed sausages, made curry, and cooked noodles, beans, and veggies. The point of lugging all the heavy food was to show people that there are better ways to make meals.  We discussed different types of freeze dried meals, lighter variations, and other options for next year.  I finally learned how to use a Whisperlite.  PITA, but much better in the cold.  And after my Pocket Rocket failure at Guyot, I know it will see use, especially in winter when canisters are useless.  We ate all the food, but had no fun cleaning up after the sausages.  Worst part of the meal, clean up.  Another vote for the freezer bag life.  We could not get rid of the sausage grease.  And the pushpins I put in the sign for the cooking area where still there :) Should I count that as backcountry patrol?

Stephanie supervises the water pumping

A few hot beverages, and off to bed we went.  I fought for my tent which turned out to be a blessing as I had a few sweat attacks.  It was not hot or anything, but blackfly reaction.  As I lay soaking wet in my sleeping bag, I wondered if I could get back down to the car.  I was miserable.  But I woke up, peed, and went back to sleep.  If this keeps up, the 40 bag will be replaced with a 50 bag.  They say it will be a hot summer.  So it will be do as I say, not as I do as I tell people to buy 30 bags when I sleep in a liner.  I mean, this is New England.  It can be all four seasons in 24 hours.

HMMM Icelandic Lamb sticks
For breakfast, we had omelets, well, they did.  And oatmeal.  I should mention , if you are packing loose oatmeal, you may want to double bag.  We had an incident and almost had to pack out some dirt flavored oatmeal.  Luckily, one of the caretakers took it for compost.  We made the omelets in freezer bags, complete with leftover veggies, beans, and cheese.  The caretakers had spinach and kale and percolated coffee.  OH I was eyeing that coffee as I had my Nescafe packet.  Now here is where I had my first Whisperlite incident.  I knocked over the stove and some omelets.  I really have to find a good way to stabilize the stove.  Luckily, they were almost done.  Minimal cleanup and time to break camp.  Our Grand Poobah, Mark, showed up right after breakfast.  Pictures were taken, goodbyes were said, and off we went.  A few sprinkles and almost no bugs.  We passed on Ripley Falls and headed for the Willey House for running water and apparently a post hike luxury, Apricot face scrub.  

Roots and rocks and root and rocks and roots and rocks and roots and rocks

Trailhead picture of survival with Grand Poobah
A trip to the Ashland Common Man, carpool switch, and off I went.  Man, gas is expensive up there.  I must just be spoiled.  Ok, I am spoiled.  I rarely spend more than 2.15.  But it was chilly and the gas light was on, so being on the side of the road was not an option.  Should have gotten a coffee.  I was tired.  Real tired.  But I made it home after a nap break.  All in all a good trip.  Recover from this week’s bites.  Ben Gay.  Best way to stop itching.  I may do this trip again with the Tortoises.  Have to see who my summer goes.  I plan on being very busy in the woods.

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