Click on images for larger views.For the first time in a long time, I got (made) a chance to get out for a hike. At the suggestion of my boss, I drove up to Weld, Maine on Saturday to hike Tumbledown Mountain. It's about a 2 hour drive to Weld from Portland, but it was beautiful fall day: crisp and sunny. I estimate 1 more week until we're at full peak for the change of leaves. Once north of Lewiston/Auburn, the roads travel through some of the most beautiful farmland in Maine--though the current crop of McCain signs was a constant reminder of why I live in Portland. The trailhead lies off a dirt road northwest of Weld village center. I chose to follow the Little Jackson trail, a track that would take you to nearby Little Jackson summit. I may do this next time, as I think it overlooks Tumbledown which would make a very pretty view. The trail roughly follows the eastern slope of a shallow defile in the hillside. After about 1.5 miles of steady climbing, I turned off on to the Pond Link Trail, headed west. There is a rushing stream in the crease of the defile which the trail crosses. I'd forgotten about the stream as I hiked and was reminded of it as a soft bass note was added to the sound of the wind in the trees.
Pond Link joins the Parker Ridge trail after about a mile, descending from a height-of-land with views of Crater Pond to the open saddle on top of Tumbledown. The day had become overcast and blustery during the climb and it was cold on the mountaintop so I didn't linger. There is no "moisture management" fabric that can really handle my moisture output. No matter the season, hiking makes me sweat like a fat man at a barbecue. After walking around the summit and near the pond, I returned down Parker Ridge. It was the right way to go, by my lights. Little Jackson is sheltered--you don't break into the open until you get to the Pond. Parker Ridge enjoys a fairly long stretch of open hiking on the ledges, with views to the south and east--very pretty in spite of the pewtery light through the cloud cover. The trail also descends through a quiet and dark pine stand, where water seeps out of the ground down the faces of the rocks, making them slick.
It was a good hike--not too many people on the summit and I only met a handful on the trail. The sun came out again when I got back to the car. I find it hard not to take these things personally. If I'd been only a couple of hours earlier or later, photos from the summit would have been spectacular (I Crummed* myself at the top, and took a few others--posted). And it would have been warm enough to sit and eat lunch, rather than eating and walking as I did.
I took a long route home, first around the southern and western shores of Webb lake, then Route 124 to 11 to Gray before getting on the highway. As I stated, the farmland north of Turner through the Androscoggin watershed is some of the most beautiful in Maine. With the fields in stubble and fringed with turning trees I wanted to walk through it all.
TPL has done a fair amount of work in the Mt. Blue State Park/Tumbledown Mountain region (#s 21 & 22 in the link). Much of what you see from the summit as you look southeast toward Webb Lake has been protected through our work.
*Crummed: v. "Crumming" is the art of snapping a self-portrait with a camera held at arm's length. Its vulgar echoes are pure coincidence. The word is eponymous to its master, Tom Crumrine, author of Crumthekid and Crumtheteacher. It soon may be time for another "meet the blogroll" post.