Failed attempt at Cameron

By the end of April, we had settled into a pattern of one very warm, humid day followed by a week of cold, rainy weather. When the last day of April promised to be that one sunny day for the foreseeable future, we decided to be a little bit more ambitious and attempt to summit Cameron Mountain. The Cameron Mountain trail-head is directly across from our favorite hiking route up Bald Rock Mountain and since the state park map indicated that this would be a moderate hike, we had no doubt that we would be able to make our way up the trail to the spur that would take us across the blueberry fields towards the summit. Unfortunately, we did not take in to account the humid weather or how our stamina had deteriorated after weeks of rain.

As we began our ascent up the Multi-use Trail, we enjoyed the sights and sounds of a new season. I stopped to examine some red flowers scattered along the side of the trail. It took us some time before we realized that these were the flowers shed by the surrounding maple trees prior to displaying the new leaves of the year. We paused to listen to the water running down the hills through the gullies on either side of the trail, while a wood thrush called in the distance.

When we reached the Cameron Mountain trail-head, we had to stop for a few minutes. We had done this portion of the trail many times, but on this particular day we seemed to have expended a great amount of effort to get this far. Still, we decided to soldier on. The trail took us downhill for a bit before taking a left-hand turn and leveling out.

Shortly after this turn, I spied movement in one of the nearby trees. I stopped and admired the meanderings of a black and white warbler as it made its way around the tree. I had always been told that to see warblers one must look high but this one was at eye level. It was a treat to have such a close up view of this interesting little bird. Further on we crossed a brook with a stone wall running alongside. The view was magical and it seemed like another good spot to rest.

We were both beginning to feel the effects of the humid conditions now, stopping repeatedly to regain the strength to go on. At one stopping point, I noticed how a broken spot on a twig of a tree looked like a “bird of paradise”. We went on looking for the spur towards the mountain, until I finally had to call it quits. The wood sign at the trail-head had indicated that the branch off for the mountain was about a mile from that point, but we had walked about a mile and found no evidence of the spur.

We were hot, exhausted and everything seemed to hurt. It was time to turn around. As we trudged back towards the Multi-use trail, we noticed that someone with a sense of humor had carved a smiley face into a stump, or perhaps it was meant as encouragement for the weary traveler. Once on the Multi-use trail, we sat on the foundation remains on the Bald Rock Mountain trail before heading back to the car. We will summit Cameron some day, hopefully later this summer.

La Verna Preserve

Early lavernadec16-1December brought cloudy skies and snow showers, evidence that winter weather would soon be here to stay awhile. By mid-morning the snow showers departed and we decided to head towards Bristol and the La Verna preserve. I purposely left my sunglasses at home to insure that we would have sunny skies by the time we reached La Verna. Now one of the interesting things to note about the finger peninsulas of Maine, is that the traveler is often deceived about the length of time it takes to reach the final destination. On this occasion we turned off Route 1 and lavernadec16-4travelled another half hour down a winding road before reaching the preserve.

After reaching the parking area, we pulled a trail map from the kiosk and crossed the street towards the preserve. We walked along the wooded Hoyt Trail, which is actually a narrow-right-of way, past stone walls and a variety of hardwoods. The trail was clearly marked with blue blazes with the occasional sign pointing out turns to keep hikers on the right-of-way. Every once in a while we discovered a random boardwalk had been placed to allow the wanderer to meander more easily through the wet sections of the trail. I stopped to admire the artistic form of the remnants of a spent fern. Frustrated by my attempts to photograph this artistry due to the lack of contrast, my husband obliged by using lavernadec16-5his blaze orange vest as a backdrop. It really is wonderful to have a mate who is so accommodating!

We walked for about a ½ mile before crossing the boundary to the preserve. Although the blazes remained blue, once in the preserve the trail changed names. We were now on the La Verna trail. Near the boundary separating the easement from the park, we crossed a small stream.  The rocks in the stream created a small waterfall, so we stopped a bit to meditate on the view and listen to the soothing sounds of the water flowing over the stones.

A lavernadec16-2little further on we had the choice of continuing on the La Verna trail which would take us through the center of the preserve or turning left on to the yellow blazed Ellis trail creating a large loop  through the park. We opted to continue our journey on the Ellis Trail and make the loop around the park. During this portion of our explorations, the spruce and white pine canopy blocked the light for a bit before changing back to a mix of hardwoods and pines. It wasn’t long before we caught a glimpse of water through the trees.

We followed the Ellis trail along the shoreline, continuing past the intersection with the La Verna Trail (which would lead back to the preserve entrance) on to the green blazed Tibbitts Trail. Walking along the Tibbitts Trail we remained near the shoreline. We found an overlook that allowed us to enjoy a snack while we lavernadec16-3studied the interesting geologic features of the area. The uplifted and folded rocks told a story of a major, catastrophic event so long ago. But there was beauty here too, and another gift of nature for us to enjoy.

Finishing our snack, we continued our loop back towards the La Vena and Hoyt trails. It was a day filled with the many offerings that nature had to give. And as we come to the end of the year, I  hope you have many opportunities to enjoy those moments of peace and tranquility that nature offers.

Wonderland Trail – Acadia

Since WonderlandApr16.4the last day of April promised sunny weather with temperatures in the mid-50s, we jumped into the new car and decided to head north to Acadia. We planned an ambitious outing of 3 rambles but with an early start, figured we could do this. Oh, and it also happened to be the last day of the Maine quilt stores shop hop which occurs every April. Funny, but there just happened to be 3 quilt stores on Mount Desert Island. Now, I wonder who planned this outing.

We actually arrived at the first quilt shop in Trenton 20 minutes before opening time. Rather than WonderlandApr16.1wait for the store to open, I told my husband that we should continue to the second shop in Southwest Harbor but threatened that we must schedule our return trip home with enough time to reach this  venue before it closed at 5. After our brief stop to view fabrics (yes I did buy some fabric), we continued our journey towards the Wonderland Trail near Bass Harbor.

Southwest Harbor, Bass Harbor and the Wonderland Trail WonderlandApr16.2are located on the “quiet side” of Mount Desert Island. The Wonderland Trail is a short, ½ mile walk that ends at a rocky beach near the ocean. We met a few families with small children as we rambled along the trail, so I would imagine that this trail could be quite crowded during the warmer months of the year.

A brochure, published by Natural Heritage Hikes, references Alice in Wonderland in the descriptions of natural mysteries that young visitors can explore along the trail. In fact, I found a fascinating hole at the base of a tree that must have been big enough for a rather large white rabbit to enter. Further along the road was the remains of a creepy looking tree that should have been in a WonderlandApr16.3dark, scary forest; perhaps another scene from Alice. I also stopped to admire a more magical scene leading off into the woods.

It wasn’t long before the gravel and dirt path turned to stone as we travelled through a section of pitch pines, twisted by the wind. Ropes on either side of the trail kept explorers from trampling an area that was undergoing restoration.  We continued our walk towards the water and soon reached a point where the trail followed the curve of the beach. We opted to spend a little time on the beach ledge exploring the tidal pools but finding only snail and barnacles, we returned to the path.

We ambled along the loop, never losing sight of the rocky shore. In a very short time we were back on the graveled road heading towards the parking area. An interesting walk, but after such a short walk we decided to head towards the nearby Ship Harbor Trail for further exploration.

Daylight Savings Time

Spring came early this year. The lake near our home was declared free of ice on March 11th, one of the earliest dates recorded for this event and BaldROckMar16.3there has been an explosion of crocuses in front of the local library. I knew that daylight savings time had been moved to the second Sunday in March about 10 years ago but it still seemed a bit early to be thinking of extra daylight, Spring and outdoor activities.

In honor of Daylight Savings Time, we decided to celebrate with a sunrise hike up Bald Rock Mountain. We dutifully set the alarm for 4:30 in order to be at the trail-head by 5:30, before blissfully settling down for the night. As morning approached, I awoke to the sound of another family member wandering around the house. Opening one eye, I glanced at my clock to see it was only 3:30 and tried to BaldRockMar16.2snuggle deeper into the blankets. Then I realized that I had not pushed my clock forward the night before. Since my husband’s clock was set for the alarm, I hoped that he had remembered Daylight Savings Time. I sat up, glanced at his timepiece and found that he had forgotten as well.

So, maybe a sunrise hike when there are too many time variables was not such a good idea. Although a little disoriented as a result of our time error, we still managed to get ready for our morning adventure. As we got into the car, a quick glance at the star filled night sky predicted an excellent sunrise. BaldROckMar16.4We arrived at the trail-head just 10 minutes behind schedule and were soon heading up the Multi-Use Trail.

I am not a big fan of hiking in the dark but I also did not want to miss the show, so I focused on the small circle of light from my headlamp and concentrated on putting one foot in front of the other. It was interesting how my perception of time and distance changed with the inability to make out where I was along the trail, for it seemed like it wasn’t long before someone mentioned that we were at the Bald Rock trail-head. I do believe that I would have just continued straight along the Multi-Use Road if I had not been informed of the turn-off.

We letBaldRockMar16.1 the younger members of the family go on ahead, while we slowed our pace for the incline of the new trail. We did have to stop once or twice as we made our way up the trail and I wondered if we would miss the show. Nearing our destination, the darkness was beginning to recede enough for us to turn off our headlamps and soon enough we were on the mountain top.

We sat in awe as the clouds took on a pink hue in the predawn light. Just before the sun started to break the horizon, the clouds reflected the morning sun and seemed to be on fire. Then slowly, the sun made its appearance, continuing one of the most inspiring displays that nature can offer. As difficult as it was to rise from bed before the sun, it was worth the journey.


Cramer Park

After CramerAug15.5another week of trying not to drag my husband away from working on kitchen cabinets in order to take a hike, I headed over to Cramer Park in Rockport. We had never really explored this park before, just paused for lunch at the sole picnic table once or twice. On our most recent visit, even the picnic table seemed a little bit worn as the surrounding vegetation encroached upon its space. We ate quickly, leaving the scolding squirrel to his acorn debris once more.

Still, I wanted to see if there was more to the park then this so I returned on an August day that had suddenly become clear. For a park that is so close to both the CramerAug15.6downtown area and Marina Park just across the road, I was surprised that Cramer Park was devoid of visitors. Thinking that there would be greater numbers further down the loop road that went through here, I parked near Pascal Avenue and meandered down the loop.

Near the road, I spotted a flower that has been blooming in abundance along the roadsides lately. CramerAug15.1If I have identified it correctly from the GoBotany website, it is an invasive plant that we heard about during our Camden Snow Bowl walk. The flower, related to the Spotted Jewel Weed which is also blooming now, is known as Impatiens Glandulifera (or Himalayan Balsam). According to the Invasive Plant Atlas of New England, not only does each plant explosively disperse about 800 seeds or more, but the nectar CramerAug15.2of the flower seems to draw pollinators away from native plants. What a shame, since the flower is very pretty.

Further along, I walked towards the ledge overlooking the Goose River, the white walls of the canyon reminders of an active limestone industry so many years ago. Not far from where I stood there was some tangled, rusted debris which was probably another remnant from that time. The park seemed to end here, for I was at the point where the road looped back towards the entrance.CramerAug15.3

As I turned to make my way back, I discovered a path entering the woods. In the mood for further exploration, I entered the woods. It wasn’t long before I discovered another worn out picnic table taken over by nature. The two tables I had seen so far, were both perched at the top of the quarry. I suppose the intent was to allow visitors to enjoy their lunch with views of the river below but unfortunately, the vegetation had not been maintained. The trail dead-ended at the river. As I reflected on the view for a few minutes, a fisherman tried CramerAug15.4his luck not far from where I stood.

After reaching the parking area, I decided to descend the stairs that would allow explorers of Cramer Park to access Marina Park without having to cross Pascal Avenue. On the marina side of the road, there was a small bridge crossing the Goose River. From the center of the bridge I was able to get a good view of the river on one side and of Rockport Harbor on the other. I found these views soothing and paused for a time before continuing to Marina Park. Here, at last, there were people enjoying lunch on benches, walking along the harbor or pausing to view the remnants of the limekilns. Two parks, so close together, one used, the other waiting to be discovered.