I decided to take a day off and hunt on Friday, 12/4. I was up at 4:10 AM and on my way to Red Hill. The prior week I saw a sign for Teedie Trail and though I would take that up the hill to hunt. I parked near the trailhead (elevation 565 ft) and waited until it was light enough to see the trail (6:45AM). I would hunt but also check out the trail for a potential hike with Kevin.
The trail basically went straight up the side of the hill. It leveled off (elevation 1350ft) and I came to a sign saying Eagle Cliff .4 mile to the left or the Red Hill Fire Tower to the right. I continued to Eagle Cliff (elevation 1410ft) and spent 30 minutes there.
The view from Eagle Cliff was wonderful. It was a clear day with some wind so I bet I could see 100 miles. Squam Lake looked spectacular with the leaves off the trees. I went back down the trail to the sign. I wanted to go to the Red Hill Fire Tower and I thought old sign said 1.6 miles to the fire tower. Turns out it was 2.6 miles. The trail was well marked with yellow markers. It went from 1350ft down a bit, then to 1800ft, then down a bit, then to 2040ft. I hurt my right foot when going up a steep section of the trail on the climb up. The ball of my foot felt swollen and my toes kept cramping up.
When I arrived at the Fire Tower I was pretty tired. (elevation 2040ft) I relaxed for 30 minutes or so and decided climb up the Fire Tower. I could feel the tower wiggle in the wind so only made it to the second platform. I was able to get one picture on the fire tower when the batteries in the camera died. EEK … It was a bit much for me so I wasn’t about to change batteries and go back up the tower. Before heading down the hill I took off my boot which felt wonderful. It could be that my thick hunting socks made my boots too tight for this hike. My foot would make my descent more difficult.
From the fire tower I was around 3 miles southeast of my truck and 1500 feet higher. The main trail coming up on the fire tower side was descending the wrong direction. I was told there was a second trail ¼ mile down the hill with white markers which would take me closer to where I needed to go. My other option was to go back the way I came. Even with a hurt foot I remembered I was hunting and thought my chances of seeing a deer was better lower down as all I had seen on top was an older scrape. I took the White trail and saw some beautiful cuts with a view of Squam Lake on the way down the hill (you will have to take my word for it.) I also saw bear scat and one set of tracks.
I made 3 BIG MISTAKES.
1) With my hunting gear on I wasn’t dressed properly for a long steep hike on what turned out to be a 50 degree day. I should have thought more about the terrain and planned accordingly.
2) I ran out of water. (one bicycle water bottle is all I brought) I could have finished my water when I reached Eagle Cliff a mile or so into the trek. I was unprepared for the elevation and distance. Instead of heading back down the hill I stayed on top and continued to go farther away from my truck. I could have really been in trouble. I have no water purification backup and may buy a SteriPEN for the future. I could have used the SteriPEN on stream water.
3) I ran out of batteries. I always carry extra AA batteries as most everything I have uses them. I also make it a point to carry out what I bring in to the woods. I had 6 extra batteries I brought in a baggie. The WRONG baggie as they were the expired batteries from previous hunting.
I did a quick inventory and had 2 headlamps ready to go (they use different batteries) so I could descend in the dark. I had one small flashlight with 2 marginal AA batteries not strong enough to power my camera. In essence, I was down to the 2 batteries in my GPS. If the GPS went down I could use my ball compass so I was ok there.
On my descent down the white trail I intersected several other trails that weren't marked on my GPS. Looking at the topo made decisions easier to get me down the hill while continuing toward my truck. 2 miles later I ended up in an area where I hunted the previous weekend. By 3:45PM I was 1/3 mile from my truck in the woods. I was so tired and thirsty I headed for the road. Hobbling, I reached my truck at 4:10PM.
LEARN from my mistakes: Wear the right clothing for what you have planned. WATER, WATER, WATER, WATER, WATER !! (I now have a water bladder for my pack.) Know what you have in your pack and make sure you have a back-up plan.
I ended up hiking 6.25 miles with a total ascent of 2545 feet. Beautiful scenery but not so fun when dehydrated. My day of hunting turned into a long hike holding a rifle.
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