Albany Mountain

My spouse on the trail (click to enlarge)

After this week’s snowfall we realized our opportunities for  “normal” hiking will soon come to an end; the next time outdoors will probably involve snowshoes.  So we decided to make the most of it and went to Albany Mountain, located in Albany, Maine.

Getting there was almost as fun as the hike itself.  Besides slipping and sliding  on unplowed snowy forest roads, right before we got to the base of Albany Mountain  a huge Eastern Coyote suddenly jumped out from the forest directly in front of our vehicle,  narrowly avoiding a collision.

I grew up in California, and coyotes are not uncommon in the hills there.  But this looked nothing like those coyotes, which tend to have a scroungy, lean look.  The Eastern Coyote is twice the size of his western cousin, and looks much more wolf-like, with a huge head, very thick fur, a plush, bushy tail, and a solid, muscular body.  Many people in Maine blame the decrease in the deer population on Maine coyotes, and by all appearances, this coyote had certainly been eating well.

A typical cairn trail marker (click to enlarge)

Because of the snow covering the ground, it was challenging to locate the trail.  The usual yellow blazes painted onto the trees were faded or non-existent, but other hikers before us had left cairn markers to indicate the path.   A cairn is a pile of stacked rocks.  These were helpful only as long as they weren’t covered by snow.  It was certainly not difficult to retrace our steps if we walked the wrong way, since our footprints were visible in the snow, and there were no other human tracks to confuse us, since we were the only ones on the mountain that day.

An all-too-rare trail sign (click to enlarge)

We were dressed warmly, since temperatures were in the high 20s and low 30s, before windchill, and the distance of the trail  (4.6 miles roundtrip) and elevation (1,200′ climb  from the base) ensured we never felt the cold. My husband carried a topo GPS which not only identified the trail and surrounding area, but marked our path as we made our way.   You can click on this link to follow our journey:  AlbanyMtnTrail

One thing nice about hiking in snow is that you can see the presence of wildlife, even if you don’t see the actual animals themselves.  We were amazed by the 7″ size of the tracks of a snowshoe hare!

Track of a Snowshoe Hare: the round part at the top of the picture is the size of a balled fist (click to enlarge)

By the end of the hike I was feeling my age (sigh) but overall, it had been a great day!

View from atop Albany Mountain (click to enlarge)

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