Ascent of Hamlin Peak on 2011-10-09

Climber: Gabriel Couët

Others in Party:Myriam Chênevert
Brigitte Benoit
Date:Sunday, October 9, 2011
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Hamlin Peak
    Elevation:4756 ft / 1449 m

Ascent Trip Report

Having just crossed Table Lands and climbed up to South Howe Peak, we were now backtracking and on our way to Hamlin Peak. It was very windy and in some places could let ourselves rest in the wind without falling down. Getting to the summit was a formality and 15 minutes later we head reached it.

This was our last summit for the day and we would now descend via Hamlin Ridge trail. According to one hiker we had crossed during the day this ridge wasn't as easy as it looked from afar. I was still enthusiastic as we reached the first pitch. The view is amazing, the whole ridge gently slithering down to the basin floor. From here we could see people further down the ridge that were basking in the sun. We started towards them and about 15 minutes later reached their location. They were Quebecers and we chatted for a while.

Up to now, the trail had been very easy and I was starting to question the earlier hiker's description. Indeed the whole ridge was very easy to navigate. It was still tricky but almost no difficult scrambling was required. There was also almost no exposure as the slopes were going down at a 45° angle on either sides.

It wasn't long before we reached treeline and now the trail looked much more like what is usually found in New England. A little bit further we linked with North Basin trail and from there it was only very easy hiking on almost level ground all the way to Chimney Pond. There we found our lean-to unoccupied. As I was wondering where Luiza was, she came back from filtering water at the pond. It was now around 4:30pm.

Myriam and Philippe set up in the lean-to next to ours as we had made a deal with the ranger earlier that morning. It would be unoccupied tonight so we could take it instead of another lean-to further away for which we had reservations. When we got ready for dinner, Myriam told us they were out of fuel. I knew my canister was at least half empty so I wasn't sure we'd have enough for everyone. Myriam and Brigitte went to ask the ranger. They came back with a small 100g Jetboil canister that we barely used as melting the cheese fondue was extremely quick after all. We didn't even have to use my canister.

Later, as the sun was setting, we went to the pond to watch the stars appear. As we reached Brigitte, who was already there, she asked if we had seen the lights on Pamola. We couldn't see anything and soon two dim stars transited over the ridge line. That must have been what she saw. We spent some time there and then returned to the lean-to.

Myriam and Philippe had already gone to sleep so the three of us prepared for the night. Brigitte went to brush her teeth some distance away and came back in a hurry saying there were definitely headlamps on Pamola. It was now past 8:00pm and already very dark. We looked and for sure there were two lights moving up there. We watched for a minute as they didn't move much and I decided to go alert the ranger.

At her cabin, she was poring over some paperwork and made a slight 'dammit' face when I told her we had seen lights up the mountain. She thanked me and I returned to our lean-to. We watched for a little while and could see the hikers were moving seemingly along the trail. At some point they disappeared behind cover so we went to bed. It was around 9:00pm.

It took a while for me to start getting to sleep. I was slowly dozing off when I heard the first shout. I was still comatose and didn't grasp the reality of it. Then came a second shout that got me very awake and at the third I rose from my sleeping bag. They were very clear and it was a guy and a girl. All three of us were standing now and we could see the lights in the mountain a little bit further than they were before, but not by much. It was now around 10:30pm.

We went to the clearing at the gazebo as the rangers were scrambling to the crew hut. SAR was already engaged so I returned to the lean-to. Brigitte stayed there and talked a bit with the crew as they were getting ready. When they left she came back and reported on what was going on. Less than 10 minutes after the first shouts (the hikers kept shouting periodically and waving their headlamps) the rangers were away on the trail. We could see their powerful lamps light up the ridge as they climbed it, very quickly, probably quicker than we had during the day.

We went back to the gazebo where the best view was and now there were tons of people awake and going to and fro. It took around 40 minutes for the rangers to reach the couple. When they did, Chimney Pond was filled with cheers from everyone. Then, as everything was now fine, we went back to bed.

The next morning, we woke up around 7:30am. We only had the hike back to Roaring Brook to do and then the drive home, so we weren't on a schedule that much. Breakfast was quick and we packed pretty fast. By 10:15 we were checking out at the ranger station where we got news from last night's events. It turns out the couple had lost the trail and didn't want to wander around cliffs. At least they had some food and good clothing. They could have hiked back down without trouble if they hadn't lost the trail. Better headlamps would have helped.

From there we hiked the 3 miles to Roaring Brook in about an hour and 15 minutes. We found the car, changed and packed everything. The drive out of the park was uneventful and in Millinocket we went for a quick lunch at the Appalachian Trail Café.

The rest of the journey was nice and sunny and we got back in Québec around 6:00pm. All in all a very nice weekend, perfect weather, and a very nice group.

Hamlin Ridge as seen from close to Hamlin Peak (photo by Myriam Chênevert).

Hamlin Ridge (left) and hamlin Peak as seen from Blueberry Knob.
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:221 ft / 67 m
    Elevation Loss:1967 ft / 599 m
    Distance:5.1 mi / 8.2 km
    Grade/Class:Class 1, 2
    Quality:10 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Scramble
    Gear Used:
Tent Camp
    Weather:Cool, Very Windy, Clear
Ascent Statistics
    Elevation Gain:96 ft / 29 m
    Distance:0.3 mi / 0.5 km
    Route:Howe peaks trail
    Trailhead:South Howe key col  4660 ft / 1420 m
    Time Up:15 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Elevation Loss:1967 ft / 599 m
    Extra Gain:125 ft / 38 m
    Distance:4.8 mi / 7.7 km
    Route:Hamlin Ridge trail
    Trailhead:Chimney Pond Lean-to's  2914 ft / 888 m
    Time Down:2 Hours 55 Minutes
Ascent Part of Trip: Baxter State Park (October 2011) (2 nights total away from roads)

Complete Trip Sequence:
1Pamola Peak2011-10-08 a
2Chimney Peak2011-10-08 b
3Katahdin-South Peak2011-10-08 c
4Katahdin2011-10-08 d
5South Howe Peak2011-10-09 a
6Hamlin Peak2011-10-09 b
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Gabriel Couët
Click Here for a Full Screen Map
Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

Download this GPS track as a GPX file

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