In June, I finally accomplished my goal of a solo hike to the summit of Bald Rock Mountain. Although the experienced hiker would not consider this a difficult climb, it has presented some challenges to me. For one thing, my previous solo hikes were always on trails that had been relatively flat. I felt that there were some risks to solo adventures up mountains. There was usually the possibility of roots or stones catching one off guard, which could have resulted in a rather nasty fall. On steeper angles, I have been uncertain of my foot placement during the descent, sometimes just giving up and resorting to the sit and slide method. And although most descriptions of this trail have called this a “gradual ascent”, I have found myself wheezing on the sudden incline after the Frohock trailhead and again on the incline shortly after turning on to the Bald Rock trailhead just before reaching the stone steps.
On that particular day in June, I decided if I was going to turn my walk up the multi-use trail into a success story of a solo hike I needed to significantly reduce my walking speed. Too often I would start this hike at a pace I could not possibly maintain, leaving me seriously out of breath by the time I made it to the stairs. It was hard but I slowed down to what seemed to be a crawl; slow enough that I was able to make it from the Frohock trail to the mile marker without stopping or wheezing.
Our best time for reaching the Bald Rock Mountain trailhead has been about 25 minutes but with my slower pace I added 5 minutes to that time. The trailhead has been another stopping point for me but I continued on, slowing my pace a bit more in order to make it through the next section that has always given me breathing troubles. I successfully made it to the steps, chose to avoid my 3rd stopping place and marched up the stairs.
At the top of the steps, the trail turned left. I rested here for a minute to catch my breath and to take a few sips of water. As I looked through the trees, I spotted a lone Lady Slipper in a small clearing, the only such flower I had seen on this trail.
From here, the trail would level out a bit before the last section towards the summit. When I reached this last steep portion of the trail I stepped slowly and carefully. This would require even more care on the descent due to the erosion that had occurred over the years. I was almost there.
In a few more minutes, I turned right on to the trail that would take me to the ledge on top of Bald Rock Mountain. I had done it! Ultimately, the trip that usually took us about 50 minutes took me an hour but that didn’t matter. I had decided to reach the summit alone and I had accomplished that goal. Hurray for me! I sat for a few minutes looking out across the water, past the islands below me and the mountains of Acadia beyond that. Then I took one last look at the harbors of Camden, Rockport and Rockland before returning home.