My camera battery died right as the trip started, so I have no pictures. I’ll post Gary’s pictures when he gets them onto his computer. Here is the account of our backpacking trip on the Grafton Loop Trail.
The anticipation for this trip was huge, since Jeremy, Gary and I had been planning the Grafton Loop for months. It would be Jeremy’s first lightweight backpacking trip, my first time through the GLT in one shot (I’d done all of it in sections) and Gary’s second time through it in one shot. We all knew it was going to be a good time.
We arrived at the Eddy Road parking lot by noon. The parking area was blocked by a lake-sized puddle, but luckily it was shallow enough for my car to get through without getting stuck. I took my camera out of my pack to get a picture to start the trip, but the battery was dead. Great. At least Gary had a camera. The dead battery set the bar for the rest of the trip, though.
The rain came down steadily throughout the day until we neared camp. Our first stretch of trail brought us up Puzzle Mountain, which is a steep, rocky, exposed summit with delightful views. I’ve never seen the views from the summit, but I assume they must be good. It was clouded in when we arrived at the top. No views, but the terrain was challenging and exciting.
Gary broke one of his REI Peak UL hiking poles on the way up the mountain, only two miles into our weekend. This marks the sixth time he’s snapped them since buying them two or three years ago. Tally for the trip: one camera and one hiking pole down.
The backside of Puzzle Mountain brought us through some lush and beautiful woods, but the trail was flowing like a river in places. The heavy rains throughout the summer have made Vermont’s trails muddy and wet, and it looks like Maine has the same problem. However, it seems the Grafton Loop Trail has less traffic, so the trail was generally in better condition. Plenty wet, but fairly little sucking mud.
We crossed two streams in the afternoon that were probably easy to walk across on rocks in low water, but we had to completely submerge our feet this time. I’m getting so used to wet feet that a dip into the moving water is refreshing, rather than something to completely avoid.
We made camp at the Knoll Campsite after about twelve miles. There are about half a dozen campsites on the East half of the loop, so it’s not hard to set a good mileage for the first day. The campsite consisted of four flat spots for tents, a privy, and an open area for cooking. Nobody there but us. After setting up camp, I found my headlamp batteries were dead, and Jeremy found a pencil-diameter hole in his tent. Add to the trip tally for bum gear: one tent, one headlamp.