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.
We found descriptions of trails on Pleasant Mountain in AMC‘s Maine Mountain Guide and settled on one, though it might be a good idea to pay more attention to the write-up in advance of the hike next time. With a vertical gain seven or eight times as great as Bradbury Mountain over the same distance (one mile, according to trail maps), Bald Peak trail was a real workout, especially for me. The trail to Big Bald Peak is a steep, wooded path with only a few scrambles over rocks, and roughly follows a stream down the mountainside.
From Big Bald Peak the best view is to the northeast and Moose Pond (see photo). Had we started earlier in the day we might have hiked another 1.2 miles to Pleasant Mountain’s main summit. As it was, we spent about an hour and a half climbing, about half an hour at the summit to rest, snack, and take pictures, and about an hour on our descent.
Remembering that the descent can be almost as strenuous as the climb, though in different ways, is not the same as experiencing it again. Today my legs are complaining, but they’ll get used to it soon enough. Yesterday I was glad to get home and take my boots off, as comfortable as they are, and just sit on the porch. I was sweaty, tired, and a bit sore, and quite pleased with myself.
This is exactly what I had in mind.