Sunday, March 11, 2012

Hiking Interlude/Trail Update

Summit of Beech Mountain

Dovetailing with last month's fiasco climbing up Bernard Mountain over on the Western Mountain end of MDI, conditions sure have changed for the better. That includes recovering from a nasty bout of illness over the last week: an important health lesson for the uninsured is to never try "toughing it out" with anything that turns out to be strep throat. Nevertheless yesterday's outing was a good excuse to work off a literal side of dead-ass that resulted from getting nailed by a full dosage of penicillin, coupled with a round of steroids that finally unclenched my throat enough to eat. But nothing makes you better appreciate a beautiful day than being cooped up and sick, so Bird-Dog and I both thoroughly enjoyed being unleashed for a few gorgeous hours.

Mansell Mountain (from Long Pond)

Temps were just hitting the higher forties in the late afternoon, without a cloud in sight, and a brisk wind pushed across the surface of Long Pond. 99% of the route was free of any snow or ice (the one area of serious overflow easily bushwhacked around), and Bird-Dog only needed some coaxing encouragement over a few steeper spots (and a couple strategic boosts from behind). So plenty of breaks to catch our wind + catch some exceptional shots of the gradually opening views as we ascended 800' to the top of Beech Mountain. The West Ridge Trail followed alongside the length of Long Pond, which in turn sprawled out underneath Mansell Mountain to the immediate west. A semi-retired fire-tower sits on the summit of Beech, around which were now kicking up enough sustained gusts that it mean a chance to try out the new windbreaker and plushy fleece liner. Easterly views commanded over the rest of MDI, including the overlapping front-to-back ridgetops of St Sauveur/Acadia/Norumbega/Sargent Mtns + the very tip of Cadillac peeking out on the farthest horizon point. Like I've mentioned before, it is a different sense of perspective now having personally hoofed it over virtually everything within sight of any given high spot in Acadia. Or at least, in our decidedly out-of-shape opinion, it means regardless of the weather from here on out, spring training has officially begun for the both of us.

Beech Mountain/West Ridge Trail (view of Long Pond + Mansell Mtn.)

We encountered only one single person + a couple pairs of people, everybody with their own pooches in tow, so many friendly tails and trails were shared along the way. No doubt the increased traffic (yeah, three's a crowd after such solitude this past season) was due in part to the Park Service temporarily closing the more popular carriage road system, this on account of all the recent rainfall thawing out the surface and making for quite the muddy mess. Loved the scenery as always, even peppered with population centers and denuded of the hallmark foliage: one irony in looking back over all the adventures in this area is the glaring absence of any examples from the much-photographed fall season. I've grown to personally enjoy the more raw and comparatively revealing side of New England.
Switchbacking down the South Ridge Trail was a much more gradual descent into quieter, deeper woods, the twilight calls of mourning doves filtering through the mossy hemlock, cedar and pine. Exposed passages of gnarled and twisty roots interspersed with stretches of groomed granite flagstones, occasionally arranged into rough-hewn stair-steps. To a transplanted Alaskan it's all pretty civilized, but for a familiar croaking call; the reminder from a random raven, heard while winging its way to the evening roost somewhere else across the island. All told it was a pleasant 2.5 mile outing in just under a few hours. Still aim to run up the other side of Beech Mountain via the more strenuous Canada Cliffs route, which would actually be a serendipitous closure of sorts, since that was the first little hike we took in Acadia upon arriving just over a year ago.

As usual, a handful more images (including a recent 5.8 mile hike around Eagle Lake in it's entirety) are uploaded to the Picasa web-album linked here.

View South across Eagle Lake

1 comment: