Saturday, August 11, 2012

Baldpate Mountain splendor

Saturday, August 4, 2012:

It hasn't happened very often - maybe once a month.  I emerge from the woods to a vista that just takes my breath away.  All I can say is 'Wow', then, after taking it in for a moment, another 'Wow'.  I think this was a 4 or 5 'Wow' view.  This is E. Baldpate Mountain as seen from the more forested west peak on a bright, clear day when Mount Washington was back in clear view despite its increasing distance.

The bright sun made it a hot day.  There was not a breath of wind even on these open summits until late in the day, nor were there any clouds of significance to provide some shade.

I hiked east from Grafton Notch, up over Baldpate, down the other side and then up to a smaller mountain called Surplus Mountain (as if it was one more mountain than Maine could hold?) and then back the same way.  This was the first section of AT maintained by the Maine Appalachian Trail Club (MATC), and it showed me that they care about stabilizing their trail.  There was extensive stone step work - hundreds of freshly installed steps between about 3250 and 3600 feet elevation on the south (west) slopes of Baldpate.  These had been installed in the past year or two and the old 'dead zone' trail could be seen through the woods right beside the new meandering route (not quite switch-backs, but the meandering helps to facilitate drainage and prevent erosion).

What I mean by 'dead zone' is trail that has been worn down to smooth bedrock where there is no good place to put your feet and no place for plants to grow.  Here's a typical example, not an extreme one.  Hikers then hike along the fringe of this unhikeable bedrock, using the roots of surviving trees for footholds and grabbing the trunks for support.  This causes more erosion and eventually kills the trees, so the dead zone steadily widens with time.  The stone step work ends this rape of the mountains.

Not only did I witness the great new reroutes, but I had the pleasure of meeting up with two Maine Conservation Corps crews at work.  They are funded by the state through a process of competitive proposals, so that the best plans addressing the places with most need are where the work gets done.  These kids are summer employees, not highly paid (but hey, you can't beat the job location), and very proud of their work:

Do other states have programs like this?  I haven't heard of any, but I sure hope so.


Here's today's hike on a map, with a link to more photos:

AT Day 195 - Baldpate Mtn at EveryTrail
EveryTrail - Find the best Hiking in Maine

1 comment:

  1. My hands hurt after moving patio bricks... I can't imagine the work it takes to move all those stones. WOW! Awesome program <3