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Little Ragged Mountain 2022

On December 5th, my husband and I decided to hike up Little Ragged using the Barnestown Road trail. We got a bit of a late start since my husband got lost in something else, and it wasn’t until I reminded him late morning that we had agreed to hike that day. At this time of the year, with sunset around 4, I really liked to be out of the woods by 3. We arrived at the trailhead at 11:30, so hopefully we had enough time to reach our goal.

The first section of trail was used to get to both the Bald Mountain trail and the Georges Highland Path that would take us up to Little Ragged. We started out following the path that went around a field and into the woods. With almost 2 inches of rain just a day or two earlier, even the flat areas were a bit wet and muddy. In fact, I slipped a bit walking around the field.

Once in the woods, the trail consisted of a lot of tree roots and boulders. In fact, this section was essentially a boulder field. You can get a sense of this by the stream flowing down Bald Mountain over the rocks in the first picture of this post. It wasn’t too far beyond this point that we reached an intersection. Turning towards the left would take us up Bald Mountain. We continued straight towards the Georges Highland Path.

With all that rain, there was enough water rushing over the rocks to create some impressive waterfalls. We paused at a few of these to admire nature’s power. At one of these, we actually stopped above and below the falls to study the flowing water from 2 different perspectives.

We continued maneuvering around boulders until we came to a stream crossing. There were no planks or bridges across this stream and with all the rain in the past few weeks, the water covered the rocks.  We made it across without any mishaps and continued to follow the trail up to the road. We crossed Barnestown Road to continue on the Georges Highland Path towards Little Ragged.

Across the road, the trail continued in a steady uphill direction. We discovered that there was a lot of mud hidden under the leaves, so we both did a bit of slipping and sliding as we made our way up the mountain. We also found that coming from this direction, it was sometimes difficult to find the next trail marker, but when we turned around the markers were quite clear. From this direction, the signs definitely needed a new coat of paint. In fact, at one of these markers some lichen had grown just above the paint forming a question mark. Even nature was questioning where we were supposed to go.

Our path continued to switchback uphill and at some point took us very close to a ravine. Eventually, we reached a new intersection with a sign post pointing out the new Round the Mountain Trail. Heading towards the left, we made our way up to the first ledge.

This granite section was surrounded by trees but there were still some views of Bald Mountain through the vegetation. I wanted to get to the bald ledge that had unobstructed views but it was already 1:00 and the sun was getting ready to go behind the ridge. We decided to have lunch where we were and then make it downhill before we lost light in the woods.

It was a bit colder than in recent days and we could see some patches of ice on the ledge where the rain had frozen. As we headed back downhill after lunch, I reminded my husband to watch out for the ice. Instead of watching, he stepped right on the ice and fell, landing on his side. As a result of the fall, his leg cramped and he spent a few minutes on the ground until his leg loosened up. I did wonder if he was taking a nap or if I would actually need to call for help. Eventually, he got up and we made it slowly down the mountain. This time, he listened as I called out to him where the patches of ice or mud were located and we made it safely down the hill. Although, we only went about a mile in one direction, this hike took between 2 to 3 hours due to the boulder field, roots, and the muddy, icy conditions; not to mention an injury. We made it safely home by 2:30.

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Sunrise Hike on Beech Hill

I had been wanting to do a sunrise hike for quite some time, but the problem with hiking up a hill to watch the sun come up is getting out of bed at some ungodly hour in order to enjoy the show. Heading up our favorite mountain for this event, means getting to the trailhead at least an hour and a half ahead a time. Knowing that it takes us at least an hour to reach the summit and we really need to be up there 30 minutes before the sun is actually visible. That means for an October sunrise time of 6:30, we have to be at the trailhead no later than 5. No thanks! So I need to either find a shorter hill to climb or make this trip closer to the shortest day of the year.

Eureka! I push my husband for a hike the day before the winter solstice, when sunrise is at 7:07. We will call it a Solstice celebration, where we can say goodbye to the short, dark days of winter and watch for the lengthening of days. To make this journey even easier, I suggest we walk up Beech Hill which is at most a 25 minute walk. This means we can get to the preserve by 6:15 and be at the top of the hill in plenty of time to enjoy the pre-show.

As we drive towards Beech Hill, I notice that the moon is not that far above the horizon. Perhaps, because it is not that far from the sun’s location, there is a brightness about the crescent moon, enough for me to see a shadowy outline of the entire sphere. It seems magical!

We arrive at the trailhead by 6:10. As we make our way along the path, we discover that the trail is completely covered in hard-packed snow that is more like ice. Not realizing that it was the time of year to keep the micro-spikes in the car, we need to make our way cautiously up the hill without them. The journey is also bitter cold and very windy. I did not count on this either. Despite all this, we reach our destination in 20 minutes.

Once we reach the summit, we seek the shelter of the hut located there. It is not open, but the porch of the building blocks the wind a bit. The sky is just beginning to show some color and I notice that the moon is about 45 degrees above the horizon. I pull off my mittens to take some pictures of the moon greeting the sunrise, and by the time I put my mittens back on my fingers hurt from the cold.

As we watch the sky get lighter, we realize that there are quite a few clouds along the horizon. This is not going to be the best sunrise we witness, but I take it in stride and decide that the clouds will be my focus today. Early on, I notice three separate layers of cloud; a smooth layer, a layer of wispy clouds beneath this and finally a layer of clouds with fluffy tops. I risk getting frostbite to get some pictures.

Finally, the sun sends a yellow-orange greeting above the cloud cover. A new day has arrived. We contemplate the new day, close to the Winter Solstice and a New Year, and wonder what new adventures and experience we will meet in the coming year.

Happy New Year to all!

Christmas 2022

Is it just me, or is Christmas approaching way too fast this year? It does seem like things have gotten away from me this year. I am in no way ready for Christmas, so it is now time to try and get into the spirit of the holiday.

On a whim, I encourage my husband to join me on a trip into town for a photo shoot. My goal is to see what is happening as the Christmas by the Sea event winds down and to see if the holiday decorations will put me in the mood. The lack of wintry weather is not helping here, but who knows, maybe I will be inspired.

The decorations in the flower boxes outside of all the shops certainly helps a bit. I particularly like the silvery ones, the closest thing to snow that I can see. Since I generally get more animated by nature, I find more spirit in the bright, red berries against the greenery in the background. This to me is Christmas.

It is too early in the day, to dig up the special Christmas feeling that comes with seeing the trees on the green lit up, or the star on top of Mount Battie. But the star, is visible for miles around, and I can even catch a glimpse of it from my home, so that helps as well.

Later in the week, I begin to put up the decorations. My Dickens village is carefully constructed first, then the holiday music comes out. The next day, we purchase our tree, to be put up a week later. I am probably, one of the few people who leaves everything up until the twelfth day of Christmas (January 6th). It just keeps the holidays going a little longer.

With all of these preparations, I can finally finish up my Christmas shopping and bake the cookies for our neighbors. Things are coming together. The only thing left is to listen to the holiday music in front of a warm fire.

May you all have a very Merry Christmas.

Hosmer Brook 2022

Sunday, October 16th was a perfect autumn day. Unfortunately, that meant that everyone would be in the Camden Hills State Park, so we had to find a place where the trail would not be too crowded. After thinking about it for a bit, we decided to try the Hosmer Brook trail at the Camden Snow Bowl. What we completely forgot, was that during the Sundays in October the Snow Bowl was running lift rides up the mountain for people to enjoy the fall colors. However, once we found parking, the Hosmer Brook trail was completely empty.

The Hosmer Brook trail has always give me trouble. This time my husband was determined that not only would I make it up to the George’s Highland Trail, but we would make it over towards Little Ragged Mountain and Buzzard’s Ledge. With just the two of us heading up the trail, we could take it slow and I could stop whenever I needed a breather. I still thought that it was an ambitious goal.

Our first two stops occurred before we even made it up the slope to the actual trailhead. I just had to stop and admire the yellows and oranges heading up the hill next to the ski lift. We really were at peak color season! Once we had gone up the hill a little ways, we took a detour to view Hosmer Brook. With three inches of rain just a few days ago, the brook had plenty of water flowing over the rocks.

Leaving the brook, we continued up the slope until we reached the trail where we entered the woods. If we weren’t moving slowly already, I really slowed down heading up this path. There were several stream crossings that we had to cross and I was a little nervous that the wet rocks might be slippery.

After all the stream crossings and reaching the top of the Hosmer Brook Loop, the trail began to switchback up the mountain. I finally figured out why this particular path gave me so much trouble; the switchbacks deceived me into thinking it wasn’t that bad, but this road was steep! We stopped a lot, but after a while I could see that we were getting close to the ledge that was part of the George’s Highland Path. Not far from the top, I noticed two openings in the midst of a boulder field. Small caves, perhaps?

 I paused for a few seconds to look at them before climbing up to the ledge. Now, the hiker could either turn left towards Ragged or right towards Little Ragged. Our destination was to the right. As we continued our journey, we went through some pretty wet areas that required some work arounds.

Once we got around these areas, we walked past a ledge (Buzzard’s Ledge perhaps?) and continued our hunt for Little Ragged. Since our Gaia app claimed that Little Ragged was not far from where we were standing, it soon became evident that the summit of Little Ragged was not actually part of the trail but somewhere off-trail. When the route began to head in a serious downward direction, we opted to turn around and enjoy our lunch on the ledge. From this vantage point we had excellent views of the fall foliage, the town and the bay in the distance. There was no better place to enjoy our meal. When we finished taking in the views, we headed back towards the Snow Bowl, reaching our starting point 4 hours from when we began. Given what our trail map had told us, I assumed that we had successfully reached our goal.

End of Summer 2022

After taking a few weeks to decompress from my photography class, I decided it was time to get outside and practice some of the things I had learned, especially doing everything in manual mode. It was also the end of summer, and I wanted to get some pictures of Barrett’s Cove. I had been composing a few photos in my mind all summer, so I knew that by September 14th I needed to do this before all the boats and docks were removed from the lake.

Since I was walking to the cove, I didn’t want to load myself down with too much camera gear. I grabbed my camera with my go-to lens and took off towards the beach.  The first dock I studied, was just about ready to be removed from the lake. All the summer gear was gone and the ladder was flipped up on to the platform.  These owners were definitely ready for Autumn.

The next float I approached, stated “heck no! Summer is not over yet”! This one was all about color with its red, yellow and blue kayaks arranged across the dock.  I really liked the arrangement of the boats, their color and the dark water in the background. I think that by keeping my camera set to taking RAW files, it really made the colors stand out.

As I got closer to the beach, I tried to take a picture of the swimming dock framed by the branches of the trees in front of me. This is where my laziness went against me. I knew before I left the house that I should have brought my long lens with me but I just didn’t want to carry it. Going through the pictures after I got home verified that I needed a closer shot of the swimming platform. Alas, when I switched to my long lens and returned the next day, the town had already been there to remove the dock for the season. Summer was truly over as far as the town was concerned.

At the beach, I was lucky to find that there were still kayaks on the public boat racks. It was clear, however, that people were starting to collect their boats and store them away for the winter. I took a few different angles of this shot, but, I liked the trees framing the picture.

Finally, I took a few pictures of three boats moored out on the lake. This was another one that I had to come back for a re-shoot because I needed the long lens. The wind was really blowing these boats around, so I waited until I could get more than just their tail end. A few days later, 2 of the 3 boats were out of the water. Glad, I got out on my photo shoot before everything was put away for the winter.