Thursday, August 30, 2012

The better part of valor

... discretion, indeed.  She dictated a short hiking day today, and I had to stifle my drive to push on.   Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrr ...

(And ahhhh ... where would our language be today without Shakespeare?)

Thursday, August 23, 2012:

It's all about logistics and the limited number of trail access points here in Maine.  I had to swallow my macho ambitions and get off the trail after just 5 1/2 hours of hiking.  Covering only 4.9 miles of new trail really bugs me when I had the energy to do much more.  But there's those logistics to consider.  I'll let my personal journal entry do the heavy lifting today:


I got up at 5:30 and drove back up to Bingham and then west 5.5 miles to Town Line Road and then north on that road as it changed names and forked and intersected but headed pretty much straight north for 11.4 miles to Moxie Pond. The parking area was not hard to find. It was tiny, with room for just two vehicles and one was already there. I parked, got ready and headed south for the uneven ascent to the summit of Pleasant Pond Mountain. The hike begins with a road walk alongside of 'Joe's Hole', a small section of the 8-mile long Moxie Pond:

Leaving the road after less than a quarter mile, the trail climbs gradually, following a ridge, rarely a good choice for easy walking. The glaciers carve ridges into knobs and notches.  Even down south ridges are there because they are made of the hardest rock - which translates to the toughest walking.  So there were lots of small steep ups and downs, though some easy trail as well. I did enjoy the sections where the trail walked on fairly gradually sloped bedrock, sometimes with views.

It took me 3 hours to get to the summit of Pleasant Pond Mountain, where I found that all the really good views were on the north side, so I had missed them yesterday. Below is one of the nice views (Hedgehog Hill and the north end of Moxie Pond) and an AT survey marker that is on a nice viewpoint knob but well off the actual trail.

American Red Squirrel
The return trip took less time and I met this cute little guy.  I love the way the red squirrels trill and chirp - it's as good as any bird song.  This gal or fellow perked up and stood still, looking right at me when I did my imitation of that sound.

I was back at the parking lot at 12:30, having seriously pondered what to do with the rest of the day. There was a 30% chance of storms in the forecast for the afternoon with a weak frontal boundary, but more importantly, it made no sense to hike less than five miles north, to at least the summit of Moxie Bald, if I did anything at all. And if that summit climb is tough, then that could get me back near or after dark, and the last thing I would have to do was ford the very wide Baker Stream right on the other side of the road from where I had parked. (On first look this morning I couldn’t see a way across without getting wet.)

Before I got back, I had decided that the only smart choice was to end my hike and make the leg north tomorrow, hiking by the clock to see how far I can get – thus not dependent on how difficult the trail would be. And that option sets up well for the next few road crossings, which are fairly closely spaced on the way to Monson.

So when I got back to the parking lot I changed into my Crocs and went to Baker Stream to do a preparatory ‘practice’ crossing. I only had to get wet on three submerged stepping stones on the way across, and then studying the rocks on the way back I found a dry route that was fairly easy that I had failed to see from the other side. So the little scouting trip paid off. Assuming that tonight’s rain (which did come) hasn’t raised the stream level tomorrow morning, the stream crossing will be quick.


So I'll end by paraphrasing another, not-quite-so-long-ago English author (Dickens):  'Tis a far, far better thing I do this day than I might have else-wise done.  'Tis a far, far better rest I go to this afternoon than I have known in many a day.


Here's the map of today's hike and a link to more photos:

AT Day 213 at EveryTrail
EveryTrail - Find the best Hiking in Maine

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