#46 Paugus: Excerpt

One of the “easier” blowdown sections on the Old Paugus Trail.

There is no getting around the blowdowns. Four hours into what is supposed to be a three-peak circuit in the Sandwich Wilderness, Janelle and I are faced with a seemingly impossible-to-solve puzzle. We are too far into the hike to turn around, especially since going back would require a steep decent in choppy conditions off the south end of Paugus cliff. But ahead of us the trail is destroyed.

Hurricane Sandy had swirled through two days earlier and the Old Paugus Trail is, in this section, gone; as though the hand of a giant had swished across the range, brushing over four and five-inch thick trees like toothpicks. I cannot not see the continuation of the trail on the other side of the enormous, perhaps valley-wide, blowdown.

“What do we do?” Janelle asks. I sense her frustration, and feel my own. It has already been a tiring hike. The day is raw and windy. Three summits is now out of the question, which puts our pre-Thanksgiving finish in danger.

But even more disturbing is the problem immediately facing us in the form of what appears to be the obliteration of the trail.

I slip off my pack and gulp down some water. Then, I push on the cluster of fallen trees in front of us, checking for give. There is none, which is good. It means the blowdown directly in front at least is fully down and won’t collapse on us.

“Take off your pack,” I say. “We have to create a path.”

The slope to our right is too steep to go down and back around and the up-slope to our left is too dangerous to attempt. So, the girl and I slowly begin snapping off branches on the trees in our path, trying to create a window among the trunks. That’s grueling work. After a while we have enough of an opening to slip through. We zig and zag in and out and under the trees, snapping branches in some places, crawling on our hands and knees in others, until an opening appears ahead.

After 30 minutes of work we step through onto the path and come face to face with another, bigger, section of blowdown. And beyond that, more.

“Well, at least if anybody hikes this after us, they’ll have an easier time,” Janelle says.

“Yup, let’s get to work.”

Mt. Paugus (11/3/12)

Height: 3,198 feet

Location: Sandwich. I-93 north to Exit 24 to Route 3 east to Route 113 east to Route 113A north to trailhead on left.

Our trailhead: Big Rock Cave Trail to Old Paugus Trail to Lawrence Trail to Cabin Trail, loop.

Distance: 8.4 miles.

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Categories: Excerpts and 52WAV Mountain Stats | Tags: , , | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “#46 Paugus: Excerpt

  1. Aunt Nancy

    Oh, her attitude! The “let’s just do it” will get her through so very much in life – again, we couldn’t be more proud of her! I admit – I think I’d have sat down & had a good cry, if it had been me, facing all of that!

    • Hi Nancy, yup, all through this journey she’s been able to just put her head down and get done what needs to be done. That’s not to say she LOVED hiking through blowdowns, but she did it!

  2. Patti Chappell

    Tom and I went that exact same route long before Hurricane Sandy and even then it was full of blowdowns. I can’t imagine it worse! We joked that that loop was the only trail that we’d ever hiked where we started and ended in the same place but that there was definitely more uphill than there was downhill. Physically impossible, we knew, but we swore it was so!

    • Hi Patti, that was by far the worst trail of our entire journey. Very, very tiring. And yes, by the end, every little up seemed like a brand new mountain!

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