Big Bald Peak

Having whetted our appetites with the pleasant walk up Bradbury Mountain the other day, our middle daughter and I were looking for another hiking experience on Father’s Day, something a little more challenging. We found it.

Pleasant Mountain isn’t a long drive from where we are, but it’s interesting to note the change in decorative motifs. In about an hour you go from coastal/nautical, to country, to alpine. Since Pleasant Mountain is home to the Shawnee Peak ski area and not much more than a stone’s throw from Conway, New Hampshire and the White Mountains it doesn’t take long for old buoys as wall decor to give way to skis crossed on the gable ends of a faux Swiss chalet.

The point of our trip wasn’t to study people’s choices in decor, but to explore the landscape. It’s easy to overlook places like Pleasant Mountain because they’re so close to home. Even though I had never really been there I thought, “Oh, it’s only Pleasant Mountain. How exciting could that be?” The answer is, pretty exciting.

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Bradbury Mountain

As promised, today was the hike. For the first time in several years I put on my hiking boots and took to the trail. Okay, granted, it was only Bradbury Mountain State Park, the summit of the mountain for which the park is named is only 485 feet, and the Northern Loop and Tote Road trails are little more than a walk in the woods. Still, it was nice to actually take that walk in the woods, instead of just talk about it.

Given the weather lately I wasn’t absolutely certain we’d really want to go out today, but the morning was sunny and warm, and the showers were supposed to hold off until afternoon anyway. I got a little turned around in North Yarmouth and Pownal, but eventually found my way back to Route 9 and the park. No one was in the gatehouse, but we went and parked anyway.

We (our middle daughter went with me) met a few other hikers along the way, including people with small children, and group of mountain bikers, though it wasn’t anything like crowded, or even busy. The Northern Loop trail is one of the easiest routes to the summit and was a very pleasant walk, not even half an hour. Once there, we looked around, took some pictures, sat on the bare rock in the sunshine, and just enjoyed being there for a bit. We took the Tote Road trail back to the parking lot, looked at each other, and said, “That was fun. What’s next?”

Because it’s so close, we’ll probably go back to Bradbury Mountain to explore some of its other trails, but I’m already setting my sights on longer trails and a little – just a little for now – more challenge.

In the Zone

The latter part of May in Maine, and much of the Northeast, was dismal. Drizmal, even. Upper level low pressure kept pulling in cool, moist air for the better part of two weeks and only just barely let up in time for Memorial Day. After a week or so of warm, even hot, and sunny weather – just long enough to mow the jungle that used to be a lawn – we seem to be back in the zone. All things considered, I think I’d rather be in this zone than the stormy midsection of the eastern U.S., or the sweltering south, but that doesn’t seem like much.

Zoning Out

Not much of a post, I suppose, complaining about the weather. And here’s another thing: As it turns out, Mark Twain probably didn’t come up with, “Everyone talks about the weather, but no one does anything about it.”

Bzzt. Pop! (Smoke.)

Among the things your computer isn’t supposed to do:

Unfortunately, mine did. Well, at least the one I use for work did. That means part of today was spent trying to get the old laptop updated enough to be usable, failing, and being set up with a temporary computer while “Smokey” goes in for service.

Technology. Wonderful when it works.

Take a Hike!

Among the things my wife and I used to enjoy way back when, in the years BC (as in Before Children), was an occasional hike. We were never serious hikers, but enjoyed being outdoors, the challenge of the climb (as modest as they were), and the reward of the views. Returning home tired and sore in a good way and relaxing over a dinner that had been cooking slowly all day long made these hikes something to remember.

The upside of my recent medical excursion is that I have no health-related reasons not to take a hike, and plenty of reasons to get more exercise. And with a free day pass to a Maine state park of my choosing from a recent Red Cross blood donation, I’ve set my sights on this coming Friday.

The Other Route 1: Part 2

Not so long ago I set out to ride and write about travels along the length of Maine’s Route 11, its “other Route 1.” The weather hasn’t been terribly cooperative, nor has my schedule, but I hope to correct that in the days to come .

Despite dreary, drippy weather through most of May and being overloaded with other things I managed to ride a couple more sections of Route 11; from Poland to Limington, and Auburn to Poland.

One problem – well, not really a problem, but if you’re trying to get a sense of how the landscape changes, it is – is that I have not been riding Route 11 in a more continuous or consistent manner. My first ride, from Limington to Sanford, was toward the south and the New Hampshire line, but left out the section from Sanford to Lebanon. Though I got that section in on a mostly rainy ride to and from Conway a week or so later, riding a route this way breaks it up and doesn’t provide a sense of continuity. It takes away the sense of the changes as you travel from one part of the state to another. My last rides took in two sections that I had ridden before, and had ridden both north to south and vice versa.

Another issue is that most of Route 11 from Poland to Augusta is pretty familiar, having ridden or driven sections of it for the last forty-plus years. The challenge here will be to look at it like I haven’t seen it before. And I still have to figure out how to take photos to help tell the story without stopping every two and a half minutes.