Archive for January 2nd, 2012

First Hike of 2012

On today's hike we never got above treeline so we didn't see any amazing views. But sometimes it's just as nice to focus on the smaller picture. Look at the complexity of these fungi! To me they look like semi-precious agates. Another example of the wondrous miracle and detail of Creation. (click to enlarge)

Today was an absolutely wonderful day, mostly because it was so atypical of a January day in Maine.  The sky was brilliant blue; there is almost no snow left on the ground (usually we’d have 3 feet by now); and the sun warmed the woods to the high 40s.  Miraculously, it was an official holiday and my husband had off, so we could actually make the most of this glorious day together!  We opted for a hike, to maximize our exposure to the wonderful fresh air while getting some much-needed exercise.

The bright glare of silvery winter light along the trail (click to enlarge)

Our nemesis, Speckled Mountain, beckoned.  We had no intention of attempting a summit climb; rather, we wanted to scour the many trails that we’ve discovered in our wanderings that aren’t necessarily recorded on our topo map or GPS, and learn which was the most efficient way to the summit so we can attempt a climb this coming summer.  We only walked a total of 5 miles of many steep ups and downs, but we did get better oriented to the various trail possibilities and now feel much more familiar with the terrain.  I was so happy to have finally located the proper trails and avoid bushwhacking.

The faded yellow trail marker on the tree in the foreground helps us stay on the correct path.

These Microspikes crampons slipped right over our hiking boots. The sharp metal protrusions on the bottom provide extreme traction when negotiating icy trails. (click to enlarge)

At the highest point of our climb, we literally ran into a wall of rather unstable ice. Even with the crampons, we didn't feel it was safe to attempt to climb these steep granite cliffs, so we turned back. (click to enlarge)

The only path we didn’t get to explore (now that the winter days are so short, we ran out of time, even though we had been hiking at a decent clip for a few hours) was what appeared to be a snowmobile trail that led off somewhere into the woods, but on our final descent of the day, when our trail merged with this one, we found out from other climbers returning to base that this snowmobile trail was in fact the easiest and most direct way to reach the top!  Based on the other hikers’ descriptions, we could have made it to the top and back in under 3 hours, avoiding the icy cliffs altogether.  We were disappointed we didn’t know about this route earlier, but we are looking forward to a future attempt to the reach the summit!


Postscript:  The following day we returned to hike the shortcut snowmobile trail.  It was about 4.5 miles roundtrip.  We did in fact reach the summit, but it was not Speckled Mountain, it was the much smaller mountain to its left, Adams Mountain, site of the old Evergreen Valley ski resort.  Moral of the story:  There are no shortcuts in real life for the things that matter.