Bushwhacking a High Peak... or Two
When I left you last we had come down from a half-day adventure of three peaks and settled in for the night after planning this days adventure: a bushwhack up Street and Nye. The route we were about to take, although not totally unheard of, was a bit of a mystery to most people we talked to. Apparently it’s a very scenic and relatively easy approach to the two mountains.
Rise and shine was very early, by the sound of rushing waters over Wanika Falls. I can’t imagine a better sound to wake up to or fall asleep by. We cooked up some eggs and pancakes before we set off, filling our belly with the energy we would need for a day’s adventure.
Day two at Wanika Falls
We would go right over the top of Wanika Falls and follow the brook up the northwest side of Street first. Of course we didn’t go right up the falls, which in my mind would have been pretty cool, but well beyond my comfort zone and ability; after all, I am not a “Bumble,” I don’t bounce. We weaved our way through the slippery rocks and sketchy slopes along the left side of the walls until we reached the top, which wasn’t all that far away, and we started to follow the brook, mostly right in it. The water level was rather low and all the rocks that filled the course were exposed, allowing us to rock-hop where we needed. Several sections of solid slab rock was also exposed giving us a rather lovely ramp to walk up; Mother Nature’s natural pathway. The rocks and slab were sticky, meaning they had great grip from their coarse construction making it a fast approach up the brook, without even an inkling of a fear of slipping. We simply used our hiking boots, which had decent grips, but we could have used even less if we wanted.
Quickly the lower summit of Nye stared down upon us with a massive spruce covered cliff. It seemed similar to someplace else I had been, maybe in a former life, or maybe it was just last weekend, I couldn’t place it, but surely it would eat at me for hours. The sun was burning off the layer of clouds that often hang so low in the High Peaks, and with this came the humidity and the deer flies. Deer flies are kind of my kryptonite, my personal foe you might say, often leaving me in some kind of flailing, violent exercise that sort of resembles something you might see in a Richard Simmons workout video.
We pressed on over the boulders and slab rock, and occasional dead fall of some rather large spruce over the drainage. Kind of like an obstacle course, we were enjoying the mostly open scramble upon the flanks of the mountain. We passed the split in the brook that leads to Nye Mountain, we would venture that for our exit strategy. The brook we followed toward Street Mountain started to get smaller and smaller, quieter and quieter, before it pretty much disappeared into the thick duff of the open balsam and spruce forest around us. The crooked development of the old-growth forest was kind of eerie as we passed through, but beautiful in the same breath. The last little bit was a tad scratchy from the dense growth and the dead branches that seemed to be even stronger than the live ones. We soon topped out on Street. After a brief break and snack at the viewing platform just below the summit, we made the tough decision to give up our balcony seating and continue on.
Now over to Nye Mountain
We used the developed path over to Nye, it's an easy hike over to the twin mountain. We stood atop Nye about 30-minutes later and didn’t really hesitate making a bearing for our course back to camp. The views on Nye, as many of you may know, are lacking, not too noteworthy for sitting around when other views await. Our bearing set us on a course of directly west, we could even cheat a bit north and that would be OK for hitting the drainage.
The forest was more of the same, boasting narrow stems of spruce and balsam, but much more open than that of Street. We stepped out to the edge of the drainage in fifteen minutes flat, a bit south of where we had anticipated, but on it none-the-less. It was but a trickle through the deep duff of bright green moss, nothing large enough to walk in, but soon we knew it would gain momentum from smaller feeder streams coming in. The descent was fast as we hopped from one side of the water source to the other, and eventually we were rock-hopping once again. This fork of the stream seemed to take no time at all leading us back to the main stream we followed earlier in the day, a familiar spot in the landscape, and that cliff still looking down upon us.
Now, at a blistering mid-80’s with an equal amount of humidity, we opted for a dip in the brook as we neared camp. Clothes and all (boots off, of course), we went in. Shockingly cool at first it soon became a comfort zone we didn’t want to get out of. Like kids at a waterpark we made the most of our time here. Now a bit squishy we finished off the last quarter mile or so to camp, where we would dry out, clean up, cook up some well-deserved dinner, and relax the evening away in front of a crackling campfire.
Day three would be us packing up camp and the realization that a perfect weekend was coming to an end, and that the realities of life would stream back in the closer we got to the trailhead. Monday would be another day at the grindstone, our 9-5 life that gives us the opportunity to enjoy such treasures as these. When we would go next, was an easy question to answer: as soon as possible. Where, well, that was the true question. But speaking for myself, I couldn’t wait to find out.