Mt Parker

December 3, 2016.

This is one of those hikes that grew as I went along. Whatever the trails would give me was going to determine what I was going to do. Returning to the Rocky Branch Trail head to get the section from the shelter to the ridge, Stairs Col Trail. Anything beyond that would be a bonus. If decent then it will be an out and back to Mt Parker leaving behind a hanging chad, the section from Mt Parker to Mt Langdon Trail.

Hoping the road was still opened and thankfully it was. A bit more snow on the ground than a week ago but passable as I drove up to the trailhead for Rocky Branch Trail. Off again on familiar territory and a quick forty-five minutes later I am back at the split where Stairs Col Trail leads off to the left just beyond the shelter spur.

 

It's a pretty easy trail down in the valley as I make my way to the Wilderness Boundary. At the boundary sign I get a look at Mt Resolution thanks to the leafless trees.

 

The grade increases a bit after that but nothing that is thigh burning steep. Further up the ascent steepens some as I pace myself up the trail. Reaching the col that separates Resolution and Stairs I get the first up close look at the cliffs on Stairs Mt.

 

There is a yellow birch tree in the col with a blank placard that probably once held the quarter mile sign for the now gone Resolution Shelter. Stairs Col Trail ends where Davis Path intersects. To the right, Davis Path, leads to a spur for Stairs Mt and then onto Mt Isolation. I will have to come back another time for that portion of the trail. Besides I want the views when I climb up onto Stairs Mt. To the right, Davis Path, leads down to Route 302 after the next intersection with Mt Parker Trail.

 

I pass by the old spur trail that led down to the shelter site and will check it out when I come back this way for the rest of Davis Path. Just after is the left hand turn onto Mt Parker Trail. It's a short climb up through the woods where the trail breaks out onto the open ledges. For the first time today I get the full blast of the chilling wind. Finding the trail is a challenge as I head straight across the sloped ledge.

 

Reaching the other side there is no evidence of the trail leading back into the woods. I retrace my steps and look around for the entrance and head more uphill this time finally finding an opening in the scrub. Back out onto some more ledges and I skip trying to find the actual highpoint of Mt Resolution which is off to my left somewhere. The views up here must be spectacular so when I get the missing pieces of Davis Path I might make a return when the weather and views are better.

 

Back into the safety of the woods as I make my way across the ridge. It is an up and down roller coaster and I missed a spur that leads out onto SW Resolution. Fortunately it is not on the redlining list. Along the way I start rethinking my plan for the day. Originally it was going to be an out and back. But coming back this way with the rolling trail doesn't hold my interest. I pull out the map and look at other options to get back to where I parked. If I head up and over Mt Parker then over to Mt Langdon Shelter I could bushwhack straight across northeast and hit Jericho Road just below the trailhead. The unknown of the terrain is the only thing holding me back. On the map it does not look too bad but who knows how the woods are. The outside shot is I meet up with someone on Mt Parker and see if I can get a ride back assuming they are parked down at the bottom of Mt Langdon Trail. Otherwise I just suck it up and head back the way I came.

 

A little bit after noon and I break out onto Mt Parker. Ahead of me in the woods I hear voices and my hopes go up. A quick couple of pictures on the exposed windy summit as there really isn't much to see today. A look back and I can see Mt Resolution and the up and down trip I just made.

 

The voices lift my spirits as I enter the woods and two guys are standing there having a break after just summiting Parker. I stop and talk to them and asked where they came up from, the Mt Langdon Trail down by Route 302. Eureka! I ask them if they would mind giving me a ride back to the Rocky Branch Trail head and they agree but assumed I came in from the Route 16 portion of the trail. No the southern trailhead I reply and the offer is still out there. Lifesavers as I don't have to worry about whacking through the unknown woods! We chat some more as I fuel up for the descent down. As we get ready to leave they insist I go ahead of them as they aren't that fast and to just wait at the parking lot for them describing their car to me. I start heading down the woods and can hear them behind me as I make my way through the varied woods. In the hardwoods section I get a peek through the trees at Mt Langdon.

 

A forty-five minute trip down and I reach the junction with Mt Langdon Trail and Mt Parker Trail is redlined! What I thought would have taken two trips to get is done with one stroke of luck. It was just this past January that I was at this spot when I did the traverse across Langdon, The Crippies, Pickering and Stanton then a long roadwalk along 302. Maybe this is the hiking gods paying me back for that day when noone offered me a ride. The trip down goes pretty smoothly but I have lost the voices behind me and I just take my time making my way through the familiar woods.

 

Down in another hardwood section a large oak tree is lying across the trail. At a stream crossing there is a nice little cascade I don't remember. Out of the Wilderness Area and finally at the trailhead where I spot the car.

 

Thirty minutes later and my saviors come out of the woods as they just saved me a long walk. We talk about hiking while driving the ten mile road trip. One of them has tried to do the 3000K and I mention my younger brother has done them. Later on during the week I notice a comment on one of the hiking boards about someone hiking Mt Parker this past Saturday and checking with my brother discover he knows the guy that gave me a ride. Small world and a huge thank you for the ride guys!


Final numbers: 10.9 miles, 6 hours and 55 minutes.

Redline Miles: 6.4, Total to Date: 1285.9