Stealth Camping - Caribou-Speckled Mountain Wilderness

For my first 3-season backpacking trip of 2012 I decided to head over to the Caribou - Speckled Mountain Wilderness and stealth camp. My reasons where two fold, first I had no idea if the trails where snow free yet. Even though we had a mild winter it was, after all, only March. Secondly, I wanted to evaluate my 3-season lightweight backpacking gear at the extreme end of its intended range.

The approach to the trail head involved a drive of a mile or so along a gravel forest service road. This was my first indication of thing to come. The road, although open, was still very soft. Think early mud season.

Leaving my car I had no idea exactly how far up Caribou Mountain I would be able to hike. I brought no winter specific gear with me. No snowshoes, ice traction, or winter boots. Just my three season backpacking gear and trail runners.

Caribou-Speckled Mountain Wilderness

Caribou_Speckled Mountain WildernessI was surprised to find the trail was snow free all the way up to the col between Caribou and Gammon Mountains. I also found, as expected, that the trail was very wet and in need of maintenance. Being a designated Federal Wilderness though, neither condition surprised me. It was after all very early in the non-winter hiking season, and trail maintenance in Wilderness areas is kept to a minimum in order to enhance the experience.

At the col I decided to bushwhack up Gammon Mountain. Even though the peak had been on my radar for a while I hadn't planned on doing it this trip. The timing just seemed right though. A lightweight pack had allowed me to make better time than I expected. I took off my pack, took a compass bearing, and headed uphill!

Once back at the col I filled up my water bottles with enough water to get me through breakfast. I headed up the Mud Brook trail towards the summit of Caribou Mountain. Not only did I find mud, but the trail still had snow on it. Not a lot, just enough to make it interesting.

Stealth Camping

A few hundred feet below the summit I decided to search out a site to stealth camp for the night. After a bit of off-trail wandering I came across a perfect spot. It was on a small bump. Being higher than the immediate area water would not puddle below me if the showers that where forecast arrive. Also, the site was on soft ground. If it rained water would be absorbed and not puddle as it does on hardened sites.

Well it did rain that night and I did stay warm and dry. In the morning it was 38 degrees and drizzly. I cooked breakfast, broke camp, and hiked back out to my car. My three season gear evaluation in the Caribou-Speckled Mountain Wilderness was a success.

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