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Mount Kearsage 2937’ (Winter) 3/?/02

5 Miles 1300’ Elevation gain

Kevin, Judy and Emma

This mountain was more or less Jude’s idea and something easy sounded good to me after pushing myself to my limits and beyond and nearly finishing off Bob F. for good on the last trip. I didn’t want any of the same things to happen to Jude and Emma on this trip that happened on the last two, so a short trip that we could get out of easily seemed the right thing to do. As it turned out it was a great hike. The weather was cold and clear, but nothing near as cold as on Lafayette. We started from the Winslow State Park side of the mountain. The first mile or so in is an unplowed road that leads up to the picnic area of the state park. From ther the climb becomes a little steeper and enters the trees. Quickly we find ourselves climbing out into scrub and what must be ledges, but they are covered with frozen ice crusted snow. Luckily it can be walked on top of. I had my crampons on, but Jude was in the snow cleats and they wouldn’t bite into the ice. Another problem with them is if they are not on just right snow can get between them and your boot and build up causing problems. When you put your foot down it will roll forward or backward over the lump of snow under your boot. We decided real crampons were the way to go and would get Jude a pair before our next winter hike. Soon we made it up to the summit, Jude having more trouble than me because of the ice, but she trudged on. There is an active smoke tower that was closed for winter and some radio and TV antennas and the like. There were a few different mounds which appeared to be summits so we hiked around a bit taking in the landscape. Mount Manadnock was just to our southwest. There is also a road coming up from the Rollins State Park side and several snowmobilers had made they’re way up and were milling about. I was glad we hadn’t decided to come up that way. While eating lunch we noticed a pair of White-winged Crossbills were coming down and accepting treats off of a rock from a couple. They wouldn’t land in your hand like a Gray Jay, but I was surprised to see them otherwise acting like the bold Jays. The male is a rosy blush like a purple finch and the female is grayish with an olive tint and when they come in close you can see that the bills cross like swords rather than resting on top of one another. Unless you see the bill you may mistake them for Pine Grosbeaks. The crossed bill makes it easier for them to pick the seeds from the cones of pines and spruces. I couldn’t manage to get a decent picture of them so I’m including pictures I took of some in Rangeley. We took a more northerly trail down which brought us back to the same picnic area. From here you could ski back down to the bottom of the road if you were so inclined. This one was a lot of fun with the Crossbill sighting topping it off.
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Return Trip 12/2/06