The five of us met at the Stevensville Road Trailhead (Underhill) at 8 am. Good thing we arrived at the earlier time because after our arrival the parking lot was full with us taking the remaining spots.
After brief review of Covid hiking guidelines we began our hike at 8:10 am up the Butler Lodge Trail reaching Butler Lodge at 9:10. After a snack break and enjoying the view we travelled up Wampahoofus a tenth of a mile where turned onto Rock Garden. Rock Garden is truly a great adventure with some lemon squeezers, crawling over or under a huge boulder, and plenty of other great up, down, and around rocks of all sorts! Trail conditions were excellent today with only a few spots where moisture made a slight difference in traction.
Plenty of mushrooms sprouting in comparison to a hike from a couple weeks ago but no slugs like last year. From there we turned up Maple Ridge to begin our ascent to the forehead, arriving at approximately 11:15. Maple Ridge has two unique features, one being an approximately 5 foot gap about 7 feet deep to jump over followed shortly up the trail by steep graded rock face to climb by getting a hand grab on the crevice as scampering along the face until able to transfer feet to the crevice ledge walking along the rock face until reaching a point where able to reach your leg up onto the plateau of the trail above. Awesome!
After reaching the summit, we took a break over by the beginning of the LT South trail since other summit area was full of people breaking/taking in the views. Perfect views of all surrounding summits such as Camels Hump, Bolton Mountain, Dewey Mountain, and many others as no cloud cover and excellent temperatures for hiking. While breaking for lunch we discussed whether to descend on Maple Ridge to Wampahoofus or head down the LT South to Wallace Cut Off and back to Butler Lodge Trail with LT South being the trail of choice.
We began our descent about 12 pm to enjoy some ladders that were a nice addition to the hike. After the ladders, there was a steep ledge area which David discussed could be a difficult edge to navigate in the winter due to knowing where the edge is located due to the snow cover. After reaching Butler Lodge, we took another break and David had a good chat with a Long Trail Patrol member about work being done on the trail while we jokingly chatted at the trail juncture about how nice the privy was at Butler Lodge! After about a 20 minute break we resumed our hike and encountered quite a few hikers in this section of the trail where we had to navigate using our physical distancing and masks the most in comparison to the rest of the hike. We arrived back at the trailhead at approximately 2 pm. After a brief discussion that another successful hike with great company and great group of hikers, nobody from group lost, and no injuries! My first hike as a group leader and will always be a special memory for me so thanks to everyone who joined the hike! Hike
Participants: Marcus “Einstein” Keely, Jill George, David Hathaway, Susan Tobin. Trip Leader: Dale “Rockhopper” Schmit. Photos: David Hathaway, Marcus Keely, Dale Schmit (leader).