Crane Mountain (Again, with the Family!)

Posted on 16 Apr 2022 by Steve Markham

Devin and Drew invited us on a Spring backpacking trip. Drew wanted to go to a mountain. I saw an opportunity to see a less cloudy view from the summit of Crane and suggested we go there. It was WONDERFUL. And rainy and snowy and steep and slick and perhaps a little chilly. But mostly WONDERFUL.

James came, too (he's behind the camera); the boys were way ahead of us at this point
James came, too (he's behind the camera); the boys were way ahead of us at this point

We met at the exit 12 park and ride and caravaned/carpooled up, arriving at the trailhead shortly after noon. Andy and Nancy have had colds, so we were pleasantly surprised when Andy showed up, too.

It was muddy or steep the whole way up, occasionally both
It was muddy or steep the whole way up, occasionally both

Lewis, Adele, and Janet were planning to tent, so they had sleeping pads strapped onto the backs of their packs. I thought it looked adorable, but it did make some of the rocks tricky for the kiddies, who felt like they were tipping backward.

Lewis and Drew love hiking together
Lewis and Drew love hiking together
Lewis and Kyle also love hiking together
Lewis and Kyle also love hiking together
At the 45-minute mark we had great views and took a break
At the 45-minute mark we had great views and took a break
Some of us took more of a break than others
Some of us took more of a break than others

The site I stayed near in March was taken (by a rather large group of people, at least 4 tents), so we headed around the pond looking for the other two sites.

For me, the path around the pond was the highlight of the trip
For me, the path around the pond was the highlight of the trip

After about two hours of hiking, we found our site!

The girls talked about where they would do art
The girls talked about where they would do art
The boys played hide and seek and other games
The boys played hide and seek and other games

We set up tents and hammocks, and then some of us hiked up to the summit. Janet stayed behind with Lewis and the girls. We hiked halfway around the pond to get to the trail up to the summit. I saw Janet from across the pond, and waved to her. She waved back!

Janet is in this picture, almost right in the middle
Janet is in this picture, almost right in the middle

It took about 45 minutes to get to the summit from camp.

The view from the top was much better than March
The view from the top was much better than March

There are lots of views near the top, and we hiked from one to the next. At times the wind was strong enough to blow you over if you weren’t careful with your footing.

I saw Janet again on the way back to camp
I saw Janet again on the way back to camp

At this point, Devin, Drew, and Kyle went left (the way we came) while Andy, James, and I went right. The Thunderforest map doesn’t show a path around the pond, but the older CalTopo maps do. We were hoping to meet them back at camp, and to find the third tent site along the way.

Tent site #3 looked even better than where we stayed, just a few minutes past to the turnoff for the summit trail
Tent site #3 looked even better than where we stayed, just a few minutes past to the turnoff for the summit trail

After tent site #3, the trail got a little harder to follow, and we ended up on some hills.

This view rivals the one from the summit, imho
This view rivals the one from the summit, imho
At the end of the trail, we could see Gore Mountian, a popular ski area
At the end of the trail, we could see Gore Mountian, a popular ski area

Yes, you read that right, the end of the trail. We hunted around to see how to get to camp with backtracking, but in the end, we backtracked. The next morning we some some people fishing off the island in the previous picture. We wondered how they got there. A trail we missed? A canoe? When they were done, they walked through the water at the base of the cliffs we were on when I took the earlier picture. Maybe there’s a submerged trail, or maybe bushwhacking is easier with waders on:)

Dinner was alfredo chicken with carrots and broccoli, and it was yummy. Then Kyle roasted marshmallows and Janet prepared s’mores. It was too cold for the chocolate to melt, but still a delightful treat. I think the party wound down around sunset at 8, and everyone was in bed by 8:30. Except me. I enjoyed some quiet alone time.

The moon didn't look quite this bright in real life, but it captures the mood overall
The moon didn't look quite this bright in real life, but it captures the mood overall

I woke up a little before 7. I often sleep better in the woods than at home, and this was one of those times. I could hear Drew talking to Devin (Devin was presumably responding, but in a quieter voice), but none of my kiddies. I went hunting. Kyle appeared asleep, though perhaps he was awake and still. Camille was definitely asleep. Janet and Lewis were quietly chatting, and Adele was sound asleep right next to them. I think we started breakfast around 8. Hot cocoa, and then pancakes (Sorry Janet, again, that I forgot your oatmeal). Eventually scrambled eggs, too.

We got a few drips Friday afternoon, but nothing too serious. The forecast called for rain after 5pm, and most of this morning, too, so we were happy that yesterday was dry. The morning was cold, and the rain, though still light, was steadier.

Halfway through breakfast it started snowing
Halfway through breakfast it started snowing

Drew had an Easter egg hunt to go to at the barn where he takes horse riding lessons, so we packed up and headed out. We were shooting for 10, and hit the trail by 11, so that’s not too bad:)

It was steep and slick, but there were no hospital visits, so we're calling it a success
It was steep and slick, but there were no hospital visits, so we're calling it a success
Not gonna lie, I was expecting lots of muddy bottoms and tears. There were neither!
Not gonna lie, I was expecting lots of muddy bottoms and tears. There were neither!
After 3/4 mile of steep downhill it flattened out, and then I had trouble keeping up
After 3/4 mile of steep downhill it flattened out, and then I had trouble keeping up

We got to the cars a little before 1 and had lunch on the ride home. James rode with us to the park and ride so that Devin and Drew could head straight home. My next trip is Monday night, to Black, and then the whole family goes to Assateague on Wednesday. I love camping season!

Update:

James shared some of his pictures, and I can’t resist adding a few of them.

A map of the trip
A map of the trip
A typical steep part
A typical steep part
Janet likes this picture. So do I.
Janet likes this picture. So do I.
Most of the ice from March was gone, but there were cools channels cut into what was left. From rain, I suppose.
Most of the ice from March was gone, but there were cools channels cut into what was left. From rain, I suppose.