May 11, 2012

Every year at this time, we hear from hikers who want to start their season with a hike of Katahdin. 
With azaleas blooming and lawns being mowed, it is hard for hikers to understand why we have Katahdin trails closed.  Every 5 days or so at this time of year, BSP Rangers hike Katahdin trails to check conditions.  We are looking for trail conditions that are dry enough and firm enough to allow hikers to walk in the trail without damaging the treadway.  When the trail treadway is too wet, hikers tend to walk outside of the trail - on the tableland of Katahdin, this will result in permanent damage to adjacent vegetation.  We also don't want to invite hikers who are expecting summer conditions to get themselves in trouble.  BSP Rangers checked conditions on the Tableland today and I've included below their reports  and photos.  Take a look, it's pretty clear why Katahdin trails should remain closed for alittle while longer.

BSP Ranger Isaac Needell patrolled and inspected the Hunt and Abol trails on Friday, May 11.  Here's what he found:

Thoreau Spring on the Hunt Trail 5/11/12
Abol Trail:
o   Not bad up as far as the tableland.  The last 100 vertical feet had some recent accumulation of snow and ice.

Hunt Trail:
o   Below the tableland, there was a recent accumulation of ice / rime up high.
o   The ground at elevation was still a bit soft
o   Considerable running water between tableland and falls

o   Softness / mud = most all exposed soil areas footsteps sinking at least an inch into soft sand & mud.
o   1” – 6” standing water in trail
o   No way to navigate trail without venturing out onto tundra / stay within string fencing.
         §  Seemingly recent accumulation of wet / sleety snow that ranged from a few inches to 18”
         §  Snow nearly the whole way on the tableland was snow covered … combo of old snow / new   snow.

These east side Katahdin Trails will remain closed another week.  Assessments will occur on Thursday / Friday of next week.

Ranger Needell at Baxter Peak 5/11/12

BSP Ranger Mike Winslow patrolled the Chimney Pond Trail, Dudley Trail and Helon Taylor Trail on Friday, May 11.  Here's what he found: 
Chimney Pond Trail
o   “Is a mess”
o   Basin Pond to Dry Brook:
   §  Quite a bit of snow / ice, soft and breaking through.
o   Dry Brook to Chimney:
   §  Considerable snow, up to 4 foot depth, soft areas undermined and breaking through.
Dudley Trail:
    o   Extensive snowfields at lower to middle mountain elevation that required steps to be kicked in and long run-outs into boulders if one slips.
Helon Taylor Trail:
o   Quite a bit of running water / erosion occurring below tree- line that will force hikers out of the trail.
Chimney Pond Trail 5/11/12
Chimney Pond Trail 5//11/12

Chimney Pond and Helon Taylor Trail conditions 5/11/12