Sunday, March 9, 2014
We took our first big mountain hike of 2013 with a trek up the North Peak Trail of Burnt Meadow Mountain in Brownfield.
Everyone got a bottle of bubbles in their Easter basket so we had some fun at a couple of stops (to blow bubbles of course, not to take a break because we're all out of shape!). Truth be told, we're all about fun and games (and/or snacks) on the trail. Fast hikers we are not.
The trick of hiking in the spring is being flexible. I really wasn't sure if we would be able to summit the North Peak of the mountain. There's no app (that I know of, if you have one let me know!) to check on specific trail conditions for a lightly traveled mountain trail in Maine. I knew there was still plenty of snow visible on the mountain when I saw it from the road so that prompted my caution. And having hiked this mountain previously, I knew there was a steep rocky climb just before the peak. I told the crew I wasn't sure if we'd make it to the top because we were going to err on the side of caution.
Spring time offers up some of the most variable conditions. But lucky for us the mild temps of the day and the recent rain had left little snow on our climb up the mountain.
Getting down was another story. We decided to loop back on another trail. In retrospect (always helpful – not) we should have gone back the way we came. But we had done the loop before and it worked fine for us. Well, with the exception of the bugs being amazingly plentiful on that summer trip. But this was an early spring visit so I guessed that would not be an issue – although we did run across a couple of flying insects. They make those buggers hardy on this trail!
Our trouble with the loop was that it was still snow-covered. Shannon said it best when she used the analogy that this part of the hike was like running on sand. We put a lot of effort into moving without going very far (and slipping on the ice led to cautious stepping). It was good training for our leg muscles however for our planned trip to tackle Mt. Washington – which we spotted (still snow-covered) from the summit of this.
It took us quite a while to hike down the slippery trail. I made a map of our hiking adventure with my EveryTrail app on my Android phone and there was a bit of a snafu with the GPS tracking. It did a weird zigzag track that ended up calculating more mileage than we actually covered.
I know from our previous hike that this loop is 3.5 miles. But our most recent visit recorded over 10 miles. And I have to say that trek down the mountain, which took us twice as long as the climb up, had us commenting that it had in fact felt like we had gone that far (proving once again that numbers really can lie but suit your needs when you want them to).
And as you'll note on our map, there aren't too many photos of the trail on the way down. I was working too hard to pull out the camera.
Other photos from the trail.
In honor of it being Easter day.
The bubbles came out of the packs several times. The kids were especially enjoying the bubble blowing antics (via the gusty winds) at the summit.
The last couple of hundred feet of the North Peak Trail requires a climb up a rocky face.
It was a view worth the effort (about 1,400 foot elevation gain).
And of course you are never too old to enjoy looking at rocks!
Wendy Almeida has been writing about enjoying the outdoors with kids in her monthly Kid Tracks Outdoors column for the Maine Sunday Telegram for 10 years. Her kids have grown up exploring the trails of Maine on foot, skis and bikes as well as through the geocache and EarthCache games. The family has found treasures of all sorts while out on the trail and the journey continues to be as much fun now that the kids are teenagers as it was when they were preschoolers.
On Twitter and Instagram at @wea1021.