Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Stratton, the Crockers and the Saddlebacks

Sue runs the Stratton Motel & Hostel in Stratton, and she shuttles hikers all over the region. I gave her a call when I reached my point of frustration trying to hitch into town, and she came out to pick me up.

Stratton is a good resupply town. There's a grocery store across the street from the hostel, along with a diner open for breakfast and lunch.  Other places in town offer options for dinner, and there's a hardware store offering some supplies hikers may need. And Sue's hostel has a full kitchen, showers, and a living room with TV and a closet full of DVDs.

Out of Stratton, there are several 4000 footers to cross. Right out of the gate there's a five mile climb to the Crockers. Then drop back down 2000' into Caribou Valley, and right back up Sugarloaf Mountain.

Our efforts are rewarded by a milestone in the form of a plaque 200 miles from Katahdin. The plaque commemorates the day the trail was completed near this spot, and the efforts off the CCC in helping to build it.

Saddleback is the next major range, with three peaks, two of which are 4000 footers, before an opportunity to get into town. The trail doesn't descend as much between peaks, making for a great transit with spectacular views above the tree line. For southbounders, this is the first time we stand on one peak, and can see the trail leading to the next peak along a ridge.

Dropping down off Saddleback the trail descends over a series of tablelands, marked by cairns that are gorgeous in the afternoon sun.

Piazza Rock Lean-to is at the bottom of a long descent, and another two miles gets you to the highway leading into Rangely where one can get authentic BBQ with sides of slaw and mac & cheese.

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