As part of our 50k training, my partner and I had a 14-mile long run to complete and decided to visit Camden Hills State Park to get in a combination of trail running and hiking. We’d been stuck in Portland for the previous two months due to Covid-19, and this was our first day-trip to get away and forgot things for a few hours.
In early November 2016 a friend and I camped out near Grafton Notch in western Maine. The next morning we hiked the two peaks of Baldpate Mountain. Baldpate was supposed to be a great hike above treeline, so we had to check it out.
We parked at the Old Speck parking lot and crossed the street to follow the Appalachian Trail north. We took the side trail to Table Rock and rejoined the Appalachian Trail to both peaks of Baldpate Mountain. We returned along the Appalachian Trail with a short side trip to see Baldpate lean-to. The hike was just short of 8 miles with 3800 feet of elevation gain and took us a little less than 6 hours.
Map of hike
At around 9:30 am we pulled into the parking lot along the Appalachian Trail on Maine Route 26 at the Old Speck Trail head. It was mostly cloudy, 30 degrees and there was only one other car in the lot.
I had been running on trails most of the year as I found them more enjoyable than road running, and easier on my legs. I typically stuck to flat trails around my house, but on a whim I decided to run up a mountain. If a very small mountain.
From the small parking lot on Webbs Mills Road I followed the Bri-Mar Trail to the summit of Rattlesnake Mountain and part way down the far side. The trails branched out in several places and crossed what were likely old roads, so some guesswork was needed. The run was just under 3 miles with 700′ elevation gain and took me less than 40 minutes to complete.
I have been trail running for a year or so but on mostly flat trails near my house. After a few excursions to small mountains in my area, I decided I wanted to try out a long run with more serious climb. I picked out an area on my White Mountain National Forest maps that looked good (I had heard Blueberry Mountain was nice) and headed out.
After having some trouble finding the trail head (pro-tip: the road is called Stone House Road, Google Maps says Shell Pond Road) I parked in the lot by the Stone House gate and started my run.
We started this hike from our campsite at Nesowadnehunk Field Campground, which is about 16 miles north of the Baxter State Park south entrance. We took Doubletop Trail to the summit of the north peak and then returned to our campsite.
This hike was around 6.25 miles with 2400′ of elevation gain. It took us just about 5 hours to hike to the northern summit of Doubletop Mountain and back.
We began and finished from the Marston Trail parking area off Park Tote Road in Baxter State Park, about 13 miles north of the park’s south entrance. We hiked Marston Trail to the junction with Mount Coe Trail. We headed north on Marston Trail around Teardrop Pond to the junction with North Brother Trail. We followed North Brother Trail to the summit of North Brother and returned the way we came.
The hike totaled 9 miles with 3000 feet of elevation gain and took us just under 5 and a half hours to complete.
With all that was separating me from the mountains was a few hours of state highways, I had no excuse not to leave for a hike when I would normally be getting ready for bed. Knowing that Crocker Cirque Campsite was just a short hike in the woods, it was a non-decision to pack up and head out for a hike in the middle of the night. Normal people would call this behavior crazy, but that’s okay, I’ve never pretended to be normal.
I arrived at the hiker’s parking lot on the Caribou Pond Road just after 12:00 am. With it being a clear and cool Friday night I was not surprised to see three other cars in the lot. I threw my gear on and headed up the road on foot to where it crossed the Appalachian Trail. I headed north on the AT and after about an hour of hiking by headlamp I started to keep an eye out for the side trail to the Crocker Cirque Campsite.
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.
I knew when I hiked Mount Abraham in May I would want to return to explore the alpine area more thoroughly. It boasted the second largest alpine area in Maine by square acreage after Mount Katahdin. What I didn’t was that it would be less than two weeks later when I returned.
A friend and I drove up to Mount Abraham after work on a Friday evening. We got to the trail head clearing at 8:35 pm as daylight was fading. The temperature was mild and the sky mostly clear as we started up the Fire Warden’s Trail by headlamp. We made the mostly easy hike to the Abraham tent site by 10:35 pm. After setting up camp we ate dinner by a campfire and retired for the night at midnight. I remembered drifting to sleep as my hammock slowly swayed below the glittering stars.
Since seeing Mount Abraham from the top of Sugarloaf Mountain last October and after hearing it hosts the second largest alpine zone in Maine (after Mount Katahdin), I’d been hankering to hike it. I was a little put off by the difficult access to the mountain though, so I waited until Spring was mostly over to avoid high water. I had read online that the road to the Fire Warden’s Trail was awful at best and that a bridge had been washed out a few years ago forcing you to make a deep water crossing.
In late May I left home fairly early in the morning and got to River Road around 9:15 am. Reusing a trick from my previous hike, I marked the turns I needed to make in Google Maps and even though I lost signal, the GPS was still working. Much to my surprise I came around a turn in the road (which had a handmade sign for the AT) and found two new, concrete bridges crossing the river. I later learned that they had been replaced the previous summer, so spread the word. I took a right after the bridges and drove up the narrow ATV road to the trailhead. There were two other cars parked at the intersection of two ATV roads. I pulled in behind them and hopped out.