In any case, they arrived eventually and traffic wasn't actually all that bad heading up I95 to I295 to Route 1. We stopped once for caffeine and a bathroom break but otherwise drove straight up to Camden. We were going to be arriving close to the check-in time of 10pm at the Camden Riverhouse Hotel, so I gave them a call before my phone lost signal and got the late check in instructions. Another party was also driving up from Boston, for a little bit I thought we were behind her, but the truck turned off a different way. There was another hotel just up Tannery Lane that confused us for a bit, but another half block away Forest spotted ours. The promised envelope with key and papers was on the desk and we were soon settled into our room at just past 10pm.
The guys were starting to pull out maps and plan routes for tomorrow when I asked if they wanted to do it in a bar instead. There was universal consensus, so off down the street we went, to the Smokestack Grill on Mechanic St., with a view of a waterfall through the large windows. The bar proper was mostly full but the rest of the establishment was pretty empty. Cris offered to get the first round and I just asked for a gin and tonic. He came back with three pint glasses: two beers and my drink. Oops. Plus it was only $6 and not mostly ice. The grill part had stopped serving dessert, so I'll blame a well digetsted supper and a lack of more food on my decision to join in on Forest's round with another pint of G&T. Oddly enough I wasn't destroyed, the extra pint glass of water probably helped, though I was super careful on the walk back to the hotel. The bar had served up a load of nostalgia as well with lots of 90's tunes. We were definitely out before midnight, and I got a bed to myself due to my stupid eye infection and not wanting to risk passing it along.
We left the extra water behind since it wasn't all that far to come back to get it, and set up off the multi use trail. We also left the snow shoes behind since the trail was a mix of packed snow and mud/rocks. It was a pretty flat wide road, a mix of gravel, mud, and snow, fairly easy to walk on. At Frohock Mountain Trail we turned off the road to get into the woods. We took it to Bald Rock trail and turned there to climb up to the lean-to's just below the peak of Bald Rock Mountain (1200 feet, so not a huge climb, but hard enough in some deep snow, slippery mud, rain, and with a 50lb pack). We made it to the first lean-to at around 11:30am in the rain. The floor ... wasn't really intact. There wasn't enough room for the three of us in the area where the boards weren't broken or warped. I stayed behind to rest a bit and the guys went ahead without their packs to check out the second lean-to. I pulled out my rain pants and pack cover finally and of course that made the rain stop. :-) They said the other shelter was much more intact, and had a better view, so we hauled our packs the 100 yards further and started to set up (aka take out everything we didn't want to haul on a day hike up another peak). Forest climbed up on the roof of the lean-to to try and block the open knot in one board from letting rain through.
We left at 12:45pm to head out on the out and back to Frohock Mountain via Derry. The sun was really out, it was much warmer (we were all shedding layers). I'm glad that I had my gaiters, some of the snow was close to knee deep. Derry Mountain was more implied than seen, a wooded hump we climbed before going down and up again to Frohock. Not much of a view there either when we got there at around 2, it was a pile of rocks with a peak sign, but since there were places to sit and we were hungry, we ate our lunches there. I'd spaced out and left my intended lunch food in the hung food bag at camp, so had some Luna bars and some of their cheese. Since we were going to pass by the spur trail to head back to the parking lot on the way back to the lean-to, and had empty-ish packs now, we decided to head back to pick up the extra gallons of water before going back to camp.
We made it back to junction by 3:45 I think, it was a bit faster despite having to climb up from Frohock to Derry since we'd broken out the trail (not a lot of traffic on the dead end trail). We were back at the car by 4:15, retracing our steps from this morning. We saw a man walking his dog, pacing us up the multi use trail. The 10 pounds of water and a lack of calories slowed me down but we were up to the lean-to again by 5 I think. I dug out my intended lunch and had it as a pick me up snack, sitting on the rocks at the peak of Bald Rock mountain. The guy and his dog had also come there, going up mostly via the multi use trail then cutting back on the other part of the Bald Rock trail.
Then Cris and Forest and I all cooked there, enjoying the view out over Camden and Lincolnville, and out toward Acadia. I had cowboy pasta and pretty much inhaled it, I was pretty hungry. :-) I cleaned up and layered up back in the lean-to, then went up on the rock again for sunset, after a failed attempt at getting a fire going. A group of teens rampaged up, then got quiet when they saw me up there taking pictures by myself. Forest had put his tent up to enjoy the sunrise view, but Cris and I were in the shelter. The teens settled in to camp in a clearish area on the other part of Bald Rock trail, made their dinner and ate up on the peak and were mostly quiet, just a bit of guitar and singing floating up as the night got darker. We saw lots of satellites and the International Space Station, and it was neat watching the stars slowly appear (no moon that night). I went down the out-cropping to the lean-to at 9 to get ready for bed. I had a moment of disorientation when I looked down at my blue jacket in the post sunset plus headlamp light, it looked absolutely gold! I kept blinking at it and trying to see the blue I knew, but had to give up, it was just always looking like a yellow/gold colour. Cris and Forest had pointed out the second outhouse behind our lean-to and two downed trees, so I grabbed my poles and went back down to the other one to retrieve the roll of toilet paper that I'd left there. I almost freaked myself out, my headlamp isn't all that bright and has a small beam, and the wind was making the trees rustle ominously. 200 counted steps back to the lean-to we were using and I was soon safely inside my sleeping bag + bivy. I was fine with just long underwear and a wool hat, though I probably had my pashmina in the bag with me to use as an extra layer of warmth.
I grabbed my kitchen stuff and took it up the rock again. I ate the last of my bean dip with my spork and then made cowboy pasta and tea. Forest rec-hecked the forecast, rain had re-appeared in it, though I had suspected as much from the clouds - they said that they looked too high for rain, I joked that they might produce snow instead. I rushed a bit to finish my meal, lean up, and hit the outhouse and brushed my teeth as it was starting to rain. Then it started to come down harder. Cris adjusted the tarp to try and reduce the amount of rain coming through, but we still had 5 or 6 pots and mugs out to catch drips. But then the leaking seams seeped down to the cross beams and dripped off of the bumps on those, changing the drip pattern. And then it started to snow. But it went back to rain and only accumulated a little bit. We went back to the lean-to at 6pm, and Cris challenged me to stay awake until sunset, which I just managed. :-)
We'd agreed to go down the rest of the Bald Rock Trail to the multi use path and out from there as the descent was less treacherous, especially with packs on. We passed a few people heading up the trail jogging as we made our way out. There was a tall white van in the trail head lot with a nice wooden canoe strapped to the top, and a ladder strapped to the side so that they could climb up to the canoe. :-) We stuffed our packs into the car and were soon on the road in search of caffeine. We were a bit worried that we'd be out and about too early for things on a Sunday, but when Cris pulled into Green Tree Coffee and Tea of Maine they were open though with just a lone person behind the till. She brewed up coffee for the guys and after some confusion, a mug of Fogcutter tea for me. I also grabbed a tin of Maine blueberry black tea.
Cris pulled into the main park entrance and we paid the auto road use fee ($13.50 for all of us, it was per person) to drive up to the top of Mount Battie. There was a small stone tower there that we promptly climbed (though coming down was a bit nerve wracking due to the open design). Reading a sign on the headland looking out over a sun drenched Camden harbour, I found out that the view inspired Edna St. Vincent Millay's poem "Renascence". The wind was picking up a bit and we were dressed for inside the car rather than outside in the weather, so we soon headed back down and back to Camden for second breakfast.
We went back to Boynton Mckay, and we all swapped around the meals we'd
had before camping. I had Cris' skillet number 1, he had Foe's brisket
hash, Foe had my huevos rancheros. The skillet was delicious, glad we got
to go back, I'd be willing to go and hang out there again and day hike in
the park. Back up route 1 to 295 and 95 to NH. We made a quick stop at the
NH liquor store by a roundabout, finding an exotic car rally in the
parking lot. Traffic was fairly light, I was home by 3, and promptly
unpacked all my wet stuff to lay it out to dry on the porch. A friend had
tried to organise a training run at 4pm and I somehow found motivation to
get ready for it, since I'd been using the backpacking as substitute
strength work outs but I needed to keep up on my running. It was a slow 3
miles, but the extensive stretching and foam rolling afterward really
helped the hiking soreness. I also finally got around to making the split
pea and chicken sausage soup that I'd meant to make for camping, ah the
luxury of standing up to cook. :-) I was out like a light by 10pm though,
tired out from my outdoor weekend.