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Date Posted: 01:32:54 10/12/04 Tue
Author: Nate
Subject: Final Word on Mount Mendon
In reply to: Mohamed Ellozy 's message, "Re: Mount Mendon" on 12:11:19 10/06/04 Wed

Mohamed, thank you for your comments. I managed to bag Mendon over the weekend, and for anyone else planning to conquer this peak I would like to offer the following bits of advice. First of all, regardless of what the description says in Gene Daniels' "Routes to New England's Hundred Highest Peaks," I think the best way to go is to follow the logging road (labeled as the AMC Trail on the Delorme map) past the fourth brook crossing (just like what Mohamed's trip report describes). After that last crossing, the tote road begins to climb steeply, but once you reach the hairpin turn (actually a very hard left turn) the first cairn is obvious. From this point, the main choice is whether you want a longer bushwhack but making more elevation gain on the trail, or vice versa. After all, from the first cairn the trail continues to climb at least another three hundred feet before basically leveling off. The main thing to remember (especially if you're a naive trail hiker like myself who doesn't know how to use a compass) is that regardless of where you enter the woods from the tote road, once you reach the top of the ridge (which is fairly immediate if you start your bushwhack from the second or third cairn) the summits of Mendon will be on your right (i.e. west along the ridge). Unfortunately I learned this the hard way on my first attempt to take Mendon, as I assumed that once I started my bushwhack the peaks would be straight ahead, and it would just be a matter of heading toward where there appeared to be the greatest elevation gain. For my first attempt, I commenced my bushwhack by the third cairn, and from there I kept going roughly straight, and I was going for quite awhile, and once it appeared I was about to drop off the ridge I started heading right, and over an hour into my bushwhack (it might have been closer to ninety minutes) I finally came upon a minor peak that did not rise very much from the ridge. There was a slight clearing, and climbing one of the trees I quickly observed there was no immediate second peak. Looking over at one of the nearby summits, I soon realized I was observing Killington, which was bare toward the summit, and on the upper slopes on the right side there was a large box-like structure that appeared to be either a concrete building or a large, squarish boulder (I was too far away for determine which). Looking at the map later, I can only guess that I had found Little Killington, since there wasn't much of a climb coming up from the ridge, and Killington didn't look too far way. However, based on the direction I seemed to be taking at the time, it seems I would have hit Robinson Hill instead, but I never dropped off the ridge and I think I just entered the woods at a weird angle from the tote road and got turned around enough that I began to head east. Anyway, once I discovered I was on the wrong peak I decided I'd gotten lost enough for one day and headed back. Considering my befuddlement and complete lack of navigational aids, I managed to pop out of the woods about 150 meters from where I started my bushwhack. Anyway, once I had determined my errors, the next day I embarked upon my second attempt, this time entering the woods at the first cairn. Climbing to the top of the ridge, I then turned right, and eventually the grade becaome inclined toward the summit of the east peak. Once I began that climb, I hadn't gone far before I encounted the herd path, which made the remaining climb much easier than bushwhacking through the dense trees. Reaching the first summit, there wasn't much of a view because I was in a cloud, but at least where the herd path over to west peak was apparent (if you think of east's summit clearing as a rectangle, I had reached it at the lower right-hand corner, while the path continuing on to west departs from the upper right-hand corner, behind a slight blowdown). As the herd path makes its descent into the col, it forks, the right fork going toward Mendon's true summit, while the left fork goes to a rocky outlook on west. Not knowing any better, I thought the left branch was the clearer, and hence correct, path, and soon enough I came out at the outlook, where the herd path basically ended. At that point, I thought I was at the summit, and due to the lack of visibility I couldn't see far enough to know differently. I really thought I'd conquered Mendon, but even after much searching of that area I wasn't able to find the canister. Uh-oh. I knew I was at least close, so even though it really seemed like I was at the highest point on that summit, just for giggles I explored further westward, and passing through a little dip, I finally discovered the canister, at the way western end of the Mendon's west peak. "Mendon 3840" was easily the most beautiful sight I beheld all day (although on an overcast morning that probably wasn't saying much). Anyway, once I basked enough in the presence of the hard won canister I began heading back, the herd path leading back to east peak proving not too difficult to locate in the cannister's clearing (if you look, it's basically the only continuous gap between the trees). En route back to east peak I observed where the herd path forked and where I had taken the wrong branch. Clearing the east summit, I continued along the herd path. In some descriptions of Mendon, they make it sound like the herd path basically leads back to the tote road, but my progress soon proved this impression to be incorrect. Once it had descended the east peak down to the ridge, it had not gone very far before it became so faint that I was no longer able to follow it. Hence, I still had some bushwhacking to do in order to return to the tote road. Interestingly enough, I finally came out not far from where I had emerged from the woods during my first attempt at Mendon. Anyway, long story short, if you'd like to do Mendon, I recommend following the tote road past the fourth brook crossing and up to the first cairn (you can go on to the second or third cairn, but just be cognizant that after the first cairn you'll be trading off easier elevation gain on the trail for a longer bushwhack). Once you enter the woods to begin your bushwhack, you want to gain the top of the ridge, then TURN RIGHT. Proceeding west from there should get you to Mendon's summits. Some descriptions make this relatively flat ridge portion sound easy, but I found those woods to be full of blow downs and trees that were too densely placed for easy travel, so good luck and happy trails.

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