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.