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SWIMMING THROUGH TREES: Kees Hill: A short scramble

Summit of Kees Hill (Provided photo — Spencer Morrissey)

As many of you may know, I like to get off the beaten path once in a while and explore new places that many don’t see or even think about twice. One weekend, I left Sunday to be my play day. Wouldn’t you know it, it rained most of the day, with a couple small windows of opportunity, which I missed.

I headed over to Wilmington to do a bit of scouting and thought about hiking up Catamount or going back to Copper Kiln Pond, but the weather just wouldn’t break and I didn’t want to get soaked or be out for a long period of time in bad conditions. That just didn’t appeal to me.

So, I drove by all these trailheads and eventually found myself over near Taylor Pond, then Silver Lake, then Union Falls, so broke out the quad map. The raindrops were a bit smaller and more spread out, not that I could dodge them, but mentally it was more acceptable. I saw Kees Hill on the map and I hadn’t been there in a while so I decided to do a revisit. It was a short bushwhack of only about 0.25 miles from the road, but it was very steep as I remembered. I was sure to get wet, as the trees were already soaked, so it could rain all it wanted, and I wouldn’t feel it.

I wedged my car off the road as much as I could, took a big drink of water, threw on my pack, turned on the GPS and off I went. The climb basically started from the road, and quickly I was fighting the steep slopes that were running wet with water, slippery leaves and liquid mud sauce. I was soaked almost instantly from the first balsam I touched, but it was hot and humid. The steep slopes eventually offered some rock scrambling and a few downed trees. The rocky areas proved to be the trickiest, since they too were soaked and slippery. The downed trees were of no issue except in one spot where a bunch had accumulated. Eventually, I stood on the summit ridge. Decent views from the top would be better on a nice day. Colors were decent as well, at least in the immediate area.

I decided to find a bit less steep descent to remove any risk of a fruitless slip and two weeks of healing. I headed a farther north and caught a delicate line that kind of fed me down a narrow passageway of nice footing. The grade was much less steep and quickly I came out to the road about 200 to 300 feet from the car.

Spencer: 1, Mountain: 0. It was another great day in the forest.