Late August we decided to stretch our limits a bit with a hike up the Ragged Mountain trailhead from Route 17. Learning from our mistakes during the Acadia hike, we made sure we had plenty of water but water was the only thing we packed. We knew the length of the hike and could estimate that it would take us about 2 hours just to reach the summit but we did no such thing. If we had thought about this some more, we would have packed food as well. Probably falls under the category of live and learn.
Once we reached the parking area, we had to descend several steps to reach the wooded trail. Not far from the parking area, I found a Jack-in-the-Pulpit with a nice cluster of red berries foretelling the end of the summer. We continued our downward trend for a time before the trail levelled out.
The path remained level for quite some time which gave me an opportunity to observe the plant life in this section of forest. The lady slippers now held a rather plump seed pod where the pink slipper used to hang. Further along, the top leaves of the Wild Cucumber Root displayed a red center. I found this plant rather interesting with its two sets of whorled leaves; a lower set of 5 or more leaves with an upper set of 3 leaves.
Soon, we had to climb up some boulders to continue our journey but things levelled out again shortly. We made our way through a small open area of blueberry bushes before entering the woods once more. Here we found a log with bright red fungus. We got close enough to observe the individual tubular strands. I have not been able to identify it but I thought it was interesting.
After about an hour, the trail began to rise towards the summit. Parts of it started to get steep, so I was obliged to make frequent stops for rest and observation. Along this part of our adventure, a small snake quickly disappeared underneath a rock. A little further along, a tiny frog searched for a place to hide.
Several times along our ascent we had views of Mirror Lake. Even though there had been some significant rain during the previous two weeks, the water level appeared low. In fact, several lakes in our area seemed low and my daughter had commented that the Duck Trap River was almost dry when she hiked that area. Guess, whatever rain we had just wasn’t enough.
As we continued our ascent, the woods gave way to open ledge and soon things got a little nerve wracking for me. Looking across to the next cairn I wondered how I was going to get across the ledge without falling (my husband will tell you it was nothing but I have always been a little nervous about heights). Somehow I made it across, then had to climb up some rocks in order to reach the summit.
While I sat contemplating the lunch we did not bring, I studied Mirror Lake below and Spruce Mountain on the other side of Route 17. I ignored the communication tower behind me, meditating on the scenery before me. After my husband was done exploring, we headed back down. Once again, I was confronted with a challenge, how to get down the rocks I just climbed. I studied the problem for a minute before deciding that when all else fails, sitting down on the rock and sliding down is usually the best approach. I needed to use this approach a few times more during our descent.
Making our way back from a hike that had over-extended my ability a bit, I thought that it was just cruel to have to finish by going uphill. But I made it back to the steps and somehow managed to climb them back to the car.