The weather’s been cooling off lately, so Andy, Heather, and I took a trip back up to the Middle Settlement Lake area yesterday for another attempt at finding new boulders.
Arriving at the trailhead, we expected another onslaught of horse flies, but a mild breeze and cooler temperatures kept them at bay. The trail started out heading West on a logging trail, which made for easy walking. Our previous attempts had barely taken us into the woods, so this quickly became our most successful trip to date. Along the way, we investigated a couple of large glacial erratics in the woods, which unfortunately lay on private property. We continued on, hoping they were a sign of more to come.
We also saw signs of recent wildlife activity, including some very fresh black bear tracks. Bears are common in the area, so it was a good reminder to keep our voices loud to avoid surprising any.
After about ten minutes of easy walking on the logging trail, we found the corner of the private property boundary, and headed North, directly toward the boulders. We skirted the property line on what appeared to be old truck tracks. It was overgrown, but still much easier than the bushwhacking I’d expected.
This proved to be a huge red herring, because ten minutes later, the trail was abruptly replaced by a large swamp surrounding a creek. I’d seen the creek on aerial photos, but hoped it would be dry and passable. Still optimistic about finding boulders, we all agreed to try finding a way through. As it turned out, the swamp wasn’t as damp as it appeared, and we were able to hop and tiptoe our way through on logs and grassy tuffets with mostly dry feet.
Having forded the swamp, we headed back into the woods and continued uphill toward the supposed boulders. The first cluster appeared exactly where I had expected, but were disappointingly small and unfeatured. The humidity and bugs were increasing, and we were dripping with sweat, so our optimism started to fade. But we’d invested too much at this point to turn back, and decided to try the next spot.
Ten minutes later, we stumbled into a huge wall of rock. Dozens of climbable faces appeared, most highballs. One climb looked particularly appealing: a 12-foot slab topping out into a sharp overhanging prow. Most of the faces were covered in lichen, so climbing them before cleaning was out of the question, but there was plenty of potential.
Continuing on, we encountered dozens more boulders littered throughout the woods. A few clusters had climbing potential, but most were too sparsely-clustered or featureless to bother with. As we picked our way through the maze of rock, I photographed and marked GPS waypoints, but with the nagging feeling that there wasn’t quite enough quality rock to make development worth the effort.
Overall, the trip wasn’t a success—we found plenty of rock, but the quality is questionable and the approach is too difficult to attract many climbers. Still, I’m not convinced that we found much of the potential this area has to offer, and I know I’ll be tempted to go back in drier conditions.