At work I was part of a hiking group and although I ‘d planned several hikes I hadn’t actually attended one. So in June I put together a hike of Tumbledown Mountain and lead the hike. We met at work shortly before 7:00 am and took a couple of cars up to Weld, Maine. There were five of us from work as well as a couple of our kids, including both of mine.
We arrived at the parking lot for Loop Trail on Byron Road at 9:30 am. There were plenty of cars at both lots, but neither were full yet. We dropped everyone off and returned to the parking lot at Brook Trail in order to plant a vehicle at the end of our hike. Once it was secured we returned to the others waiting at the Loop Trail.
The hike started off flat with a fairly difficult brook crossing due to a downed tree. We stopped at the giant boulder about a half a mile into the hike where my older son proceeded to climb it and nervously shimmy back down.
Soon after the boulder the trail began to climb moderately up the rocky southern face of Tumbledown Mountain. We took a short break at a vista and then continued up.
The trail climbed steeply for a while before making it to a flat ridge halfway up the mountain. We took a snack break while taking in our first good view of the mountain above.
After our snack break we pushed up the steep and rocky chimney route toward the summit. Just short of the chimney was a tight climb between boulders called Fat Man’s Demise. My younger son was a bit freaked out by it, but I lifted him and urged him on. Once through he was glad that he did it. We all made it through without the slightest bit of demise.
Once on the upper ridge of Tumbledown we made the easy hike to the West peak and arrived at 11:50 am.
That was where I showed my inexperience as a hike leader. I wanted to make the hike over to the north peak of Tumbledown. I had hiked the mountain once before and did not hit the north peak, the true high point of the mountain. It looked to be a short and easy hike to the peak and I figured I could do it in a half an hour. I did not anticipate that everyone else except for one of the adults and all of the kids would want to go as well.
I set my kids up with lunch and then four of us headed a short way back down the trail to where the herd path to the north peak splits off.
It was easy going to the north peak, clearly marked by herd paths through the trees and by cairns over the rocky sections. We made it to the peak by 12:25 pm and enjoyed the view overlooking Tumbledown Pond and looking up to Little Jackson. After a brief respite we turned back and hustled to the rest of our group.
We got back to the west peak at 12:45 pm, just under an hour (not half an hour) after we started. I immediately felt terrible that we had left one adult alone with the kids on the cold summit for so long. You have to learn from your mistakes, and I know I will not be planning optional side hikes in the future. I scarfed down half my lunch and we set off toward the east peak.
The hike from west to east peak was easy and interesting. There were views the entire way with lots of climbing around on bald granite faces. We got down to Tumbledown Pond at 1:45 pm where I finished my lunch.
Although it was quite cold and overcast, I had worn my swimming suit under my hiking pants and wasn’t going to miss out on the opportunity to use them. I jumped into the pond despite the frigid temperature. This prompted one other person (not in our group) to strip down to his shorts and jump in, followed by cheers from those sitting around the pond. When I got out my younger son said: “You’re famous now.”
The hike down Brook Trail started off arduous, following the moderately steep rocks alongside the brook that drained Tumbledown Pond. It mellowed out over time, switchbacked through the woods and finished its meandering to trail head following an old and rocky road. We got out to Byron Road at 3:45 pm where we saw the remnants of the crowds that had showed up and left since we had arrived. The cars sporadically lined both sides of the road as far as we could see.
We retrieved my car from the Loop Trail parking lot and then headed back to southern Maine exhausted and satisfied by the full day hike. It was awesome to hike with some of my colleagues, all of whom I’d talked with over lunch about hiking but had never hit the trail with any of them. I also learned a lesson about planning an executing a group hike. Don’t do optional side hikes as it will likely leave some people sitting and waiting.
Without great solitude no serious work is possible.
Video of Tumbledown Mountain hike
Music from Free Music Archive: “Summer Spliffs” by Broke for Free
MAPS & STATS
Date Hiked: 11 June 2016
Trail Conditions: dry, muddy
Weather: partly sunny, sprinkling
Wind: NE 20 mph
Highest Elevation: 3054′
Elevation Gain: 2100′
Distance: 5.8 miles
Book Time: 4:00
Actual Time: 6:15
Hike: Tumbledown/Little Jackson – 12 December 2015
Tumbledown Mountain in other blogs:
Smudge Ink – 24 July 2015
Writing for Myself – 29 June 2015
1 Happy Hiker – 22 September 2013
Living in Portland – 1 August 2012
Northeast Adventures – 17 October 2009
“Tumbledown Mountain.” summitpost.org. SummitPot.org. Web. 28 November 2016.