Table Rock Trip Report

 

On top of Table Rock.
Frozen already.
Buddies.

By Deb Carroll

The dashboard thermometer in my car read 14° as I made the left turn onto the road that leads to Grafton Notch. Being so excited to see my friends, I forgot to look at the temperature when I got that the trailhead.  So let’s just say it was cold… Really cold. And windy.

Within a few minutes of arriving at the parking lot the four of us were bundled up, wearing our packs, and heading for the trail.  A fresh layer of snow – about three or 4 inches of fresh powder over several inches of base – had fallen the night before.  Although someone had been on the trail in previous days and done the hard work of packing the base, we were the first people out on that particular day.

Once we got into the woods, the wind all but stopped. We walked along the Appalachian Trail through the lovely winter landscape and took the second right turn, almost a mile in, onto the blue blazed side trail that led to Table Rock.  We were surprised that the skies were relatively clear when we eventually emerged onto Table Rock.  Old Speck was visible, beautiful, and covered with snow. The wind wasn’t as bad as we had expected, but it was still cold.  We lingered on the rock’s exposed the ledge for a few photos and a few laughs, and then headed back down the mountain.

Although there were two cars in the parking lot other than ours, we didn’t see anyone else on the trail, and so we assumed that they were climbing Old Speck.

The 2.6 mile round trip hike to table rock was a great way to spend a crisp but sunny mid-December morning. It was a great day for the first Maine Appalachian Trail Land Trust Next Century winter series hike.

See you on the trail!

Late Season Stewardship Report

Heading up above treeline on Mount Abraham.
Mount Abraham conservation easement boundary.
New signage.

One of the chief obligations of the Maine Appalachian Trail Land Trust (and most other land trusts!) is stewardship.  Stewardship means taking care of the lands the land trust owns or holds conservation easements over, by making sure that the terms under which the property was conserved are adhered to.  We do this by getting out on the properties and inspecting them – sometimes multiple times per year – to ensure that boundaries are marked if necessary, or that there aren’t illegal activities taking place.  Many of the properties the Maine Appalachian Trail Land Trust has stewardship responsibilities over are remote and hard to access.  But at the same time, they are some of the most rewarding landscapes to visit, due to their unique qualities and unparalleled natural beauty.

We generally monitor our properties in the fall when the leaves are down, but as you know the weather in Maine can be very tricky.  In the slideshow above, we ventured out with representatives of Appalachian Trail Conservancy on a joint monitoring trip to Mount Abraham.  With nearly a foot of snow on the ground, the going was tough.  But we were able to hang a new sign in an area where snowmobiles have been entering the Mount Abraham ecological reserve area (where motorized vehicles are not permitted), find boundary markers and venture into a part of the 7,000+ acre reserve area that is seldom visited.

Permitted structure.
Boundary confusion.
Rough terrain.

We also hold conservation easements on land that is not as remote.  These photos (with stewardship volunteer Olin Jenner) show some of the permitted structures, boundary markers and terrain on a 40+ acre easement on a hunting camp lot along the Appalachian Trail.  The entire perimeter can be walked in a few hours, but since there are multiple use areas there are details to investigate.  And as usual, be prepared!

Stewardship is not like any old obligation the Maine Appalachian Trail Land Trust has – it has it forever.  When the land trust agrees to acquire land or easements, we understand that this means we have a contract with the public to ensure that the benefits of this landscape are protected.  For help with these obligations we are very thankful to have volunteers, but we can always use more!

If you are interested in getting out on the land with us and learning a skill for resume building in the conservation world, contact us at 207-808-2073 or by email at info@matlt.org!

Winter Hikes Calendar

Perfectly symmetrical snow angel.

With the latest winter forecast showing a snowy winter on the way, we have started thinking about our winter Next Century Hikes on the A.T.!  Some of the outings we are thinking of:

If you have an ideas for hikes that will be appropriate for large groups of vary abilities that does not have extensive terrain above treeline, send your ideas along by email or social media!  We will be releasing the calendar in November.

Appalachian Trail Partners’ Hike 2016

Bemis Mountain with Elephant Mountain in the rear.
Mooselookmeguntic Lake.
Lunch!
Lester Kenway, President of Maine Appalachian Trail Club, pointing out trail features on Bemis Mountain.

Maine A.T. Land Trust Executive Director Simon Rucker was lucky enough to attend this year’s A.T. Partners’ hike, which is an annual event hosted by the Maine Appalachian Trail Club.  It’s a good opportunity to connect with A.T. organizations in a great environment, i.e. outside on in Maine on a fall day at Height of Land on Route 17.  And though it was a brisk 37 degrees at the start of the hike and the wind made it feel like January, once we entered the woods and proceeded on the hike to Moxie Pond, the sun warmed us nicely.  Lester Kenway, President of MATC, and Dave Field, former President, remarked on the history of the trail in the section south of Rangeley, and the history of trail improvements.  It was a working hike but with the great scenery, it was worth the trip out.

Baldpates Trip Report

The group.
Heading up to East Baldpate.
West Baldpate, from East.
Great climbing!
Summit of East Baldpate.
Fall foliage south of Grafton Notch.
View of West Baldpate with Old Speck in the rear.
Group shot!

Maine A.T. Land Trust had our latest (and final of the season!) hike up the Baldpates in Grafton Notch on Saturday and as you can see from the photos, it was spectacular and almost every way.  The weather, although not sunny, was warm enough and the rain held off until the evening.  The fall foliage was at peak and despite the predictions of prognosticators that this year there would not be much in the way of good color (due to drought conditions), there was plenty.

The group met at the Grafton Notch parking area and hit the trail at about 9:30am.  Most of the group had climbed the Baldpates at one time or another (like a “failed” attempt last year), but everybody was looking forward to climbing these lesser traveled peaks that are often overshadowed by Old Speck, just across Route 26 to the west.  One of the group, Sue, is working on becoming a trip leader for the Appalachian Mountain Club and this was a practice hike of sorts for her.

We made good time to West Baldpate (3,662 feet) and headed down to the bog area between the peaks.  This is one of the highlights of the hike, as there are views in all directions and the terrain is unique.  After the bog, we reached the steep ledges on the final ascent to East Baldpate (3,812 feet).  It took everybody a few minutes to adjust to this open, exposed terrain, but it was more exciting than scary.  We reached the summit at about 1pm.  There were great views in all directions and though there was a chill in the air the lack of sunshine was a welcome feature of autumn.

On the way back down, we encountered several groups going up or down, and everybody remarked at how great an experience hiking the Baldpates is.  It was a great way to end the warm-weather of our Next Century Hikes program!

Stay tuned for our updated calendar for the fall and winter season!  Make sure those snowshoes are operational by December.

Pleasant Pond Mountain Trip Report

Trailhead sign.
Yogi marches on.
Board member Deb Carroll and longtime MATLT hiker Yogi!
The group!
Boots!!!

By Deb Carroll

On Sunday, September 25, the Maine Appalachian Trail Land Trust joined forces, once again, with my other favorite (NH based) hiking group.  For most of us, our hike up Pleasant Pond Mountain was preceded by a day of whitewater rafting, so our collective spirits were high.  11 women, some seasoned and some inexperienced hikers, met in Caratunk at about 9:30AM and hit the trail shortly thereafter.

Directions to the trail head for Pleasant Pond Mountain can be found in the Maine Mountain Guide and are pretty accurate, with one exception. As you get close to the trail head, don’t take the obvious right hand turn onto the decently maintained dirt road.  Rather, keep going another hundred yards or so until you get to a rutted right turn with a brown AT parking lot sign on the tree.  The trail to the top of Pleasant Pond Mountain is just 1.6 miles long and follows the Appalachian Trail the entire way.  It’s a 3.2 mile, “out-and-back” hike, with 1,077 feet of elevation gain.  Even with one novice hiker in our group, for whom this was a “first time on the AT” experience, the trip took only about 2.5 hours. It was cold, so we chose not to stop at Pleasant Pond for a swim.

We found the trail to be in excellent condition, though well-trodden due to frequent use.  Although there were some leaves falling from the trees, as evidenced by the lack of color change we found that most trees had yet to realize that autumn had arrived.

Surprisingly, this late in the year, we ran into a 6 thru hikers – with names like “Falcon” and “Brother Blood,” a couple and a lone young lady – still making their way north to Katahdin.  Overall, though they were pleasant and conversant when engaged, they looked tired.

Reaching the moderately treed and lichen speckled summit, we found just a small cairn marking the top.  The views to the south and west, however, were extraordinary for the effort expended to earn them.  With rain in the distance, and a cool autumn wind swirling about, we didn’t linger long on top.

Berry Pickers’ Trail – Great Maine Outdoor Weekend

Finishing up the sign post.
Dave Field puts on the finishing touches.
On our way!
Lunch!
Upward.
The junction with the A.T.
The Saddleback group makes its way to the summit.

The Maine Appalachian Trail Land Trust had a GREAT outing for the Great Maine Outdoor Weekend on Saturday, September 17th.  The weather was perfect, we had a great (very large!) group and we accomplished our goal of getting up the first signs for the Berry Pickers’ Trail.

We met at Edmunds Market in Phillips and proceeded to break into groups according to planned hiking agendas for the day.  One group was planning to go up to the summits of both Saddleback and The Horn, one was going to accompany Dave Field on a loop hike over Saddleback to Eddy Pond and back to the car spot on the Fly Rod Crosby Trail, and one was just going up to the junction with the Appalachian Trail between Saddleback and The Horn, where the Berry Pickers’ Trail ends.

After re-meeting at the ATV gate on the Fly Rod Crosby Trail – which is a multi-use trail, allowing hikers, bikers, ATV riders, cross country skiers and snowmobilers – we proceeded up to the actual trailhead of the Berry Pickers’ Trail, which is located at a bridge crossing Winship Stream.  Betsy and Bud, who live in the area and have used some incarnation of the Berry Pickers’ Trail for thirty years, met us on their fat tire bikes!  We – actually one volunteer (thanks Rob!) – carried a post to put up at the trailhead, with a sign that has the following text.

sign-textSince there were 19 hikers who were all excited about the opening on this trail, we had many hands to make the work light.  Dave Field dug the post hole with some help from Deb Carroll, Maine A.T. Land Trust board member.  Hikers Kimberly, Charlie and Terri helped gather stones to put around the post once it was up. When it was standing, Dave Field read the text and put the sign board up.  Applause!

Back to the hiking, where we proceeded in a long line up to the ridge to Saddleback Mountain.  People went at different paces, but everybody was having a good time and meeting new people.  Betsy and Bud had lunch with the big group and went back down to their fat tire bikes.  We made it to the A.T. junction at about 1pm and Dave Field took out another, identical sign board, which he then hung at the intersection of the A.T. and Berry Pickers’ Trail.  Mission accomplished!

At the junction, everybody took in the views and then proceeded on their different hikes.  One large group headed up Saddleback, where five individuals went down to Eddy Pond.  Nine would backtrack and then head over to The Horn, before backtracking again down the Berry Pickers’ Trail.  And a last group lingered at the junction spot for a long time, watching the others head up, before heading back down.

It was a great day on the trail and we want to thank everybody for coming out for the Great Maine Outdoor Weekend and helping us to finish the work on the Berry Pickers’ Trail.  And most of all, thanks to Dave Field and Maine Appalachian Trail Club for trail work to get it open.

Check our website for updates on our next hike up Pleasant Pond Mountain on September 25th!

Portland Greendrinks!

A.T. Twister
Lots of people…
Land Trust volunteer Olin Jenner!

Photo Gallery

Why ME Greendrinks Video

The Maine Appalachian Trail Land Trust had an excellent night out with Portland Greendrinks on September 13th at Thompson’s Point.  Greendrinks supports non-profits by helping to sponsor an event built around a common interest in the environment and doing good work by helping organizations that do that work.  As you can see, we had about 500 people at the event and the location is a beautiful spot for an after-work gathering.  We raffled off two Hyperlite backpacks (thanks Hyperlite!) and had volunteers around to help with the activities and talk about our mission and the Appalachian Trail in Maine.

Thanks again to Portland Greendrinks and all our volunteers for helping out!  PS – sorry we ran out of beer everybody!

Kingfield Trail Town Ceremony

The Sign.
View from the celebration towards the Appalachian Trail.
Maine State Senator Tom Saviello with the group.
ATC New England Regional Director Hawk Metheny signs the proclamation with Kingfield Selectman Wade Brown.
Senator Collins’ staffer Alix Rudzinski reads a proclamation from the Senator on Kingfield becoming an A.T. community.

Congratulations to Kingfield, which recently became the fourth Appalachian Trail Community in Maine.  A celebration was held in conjunction with the Kingfield Bicentennial Celebration.  There was some great potluck food, drink and dancing.  The weather held out (for the most part) and proclamations supporting the A.T.’s importance to Maine communities along the trail were read by representatives of:

  • Senator Susan Collins
  • Senator Angus King
  • Governor Paul LePage
  • Congressman Bruce Poliquin

It was a great occasion and congratulations to Kingfield on turning 200!  You couldn’t have done it without all the great people in town.

Mt. Abraham NPS 100th Anniversary Hike Trip Report

Ascending through the spruces.
Panorama of the Rapid Stream Valley.
Spaulding Mountain, with the Crockers behind.
Mt. Abraham burn area.
View to the west, to Saddleback Mountain.

The Maine A.T. Land Trust held our hike in honor of the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service on a beautiful Saturday – just a few days after the designation of the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument as the newest National Park Service landscape.  We chose Mt. Abraham because the land trust holds a conservation easement over the summit area – which is part of the State of Maine-owned Mount Abraham Public Reserve Unit – but at the same time it is an integral part of the Appalachian Trail landscape.  It is an excellent example of the partnerships and cooperative working relationships that help make the A.T. what it is.

We crossed over the newly-replaced Twin Bridges and headed up the Fire Warden Trail.  It was a beautiful day with low humidity, and we reached the MATC campsite very quickly, and treeline shortly thereafter.  The going was not as fast since the sun was bright out of the trees, but the breeze was nice.  We made it to the summit just in time for lunch and had plenty of time to enjoy the views.

On the way down, there was lots of discussion about what the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument will mean for Maine, since this was the NPS 100th anniversary hike.  Most think it will be a positive thing, and everyone was primarily focused on turning the designation into an opportunity for economic development and recreation for the local area.  It was an interesting end to a great day.

Join us next month for the Berry Pickers’ Trail opening for the Great Maine Outdoor Weekend!