MindFire Press

A Rangeley Adventure

Maine Hiker's Journal

Season 1 (2013) 

Chapter 7: A Rangeley Adventure


After my successful hike on Pleasant Mountain a few weeks earlier, I was ready to tackle the next challenge, which was supposed to be Tumbledown Mountain in northwestern Maine. But Mother Nature had other ideas. Shortly after I turned onto the unpaved access road to the trailhead on another beautiful fall day, which followed a three-hour ride starting on the Maine Turnpike and continuing more or less north from Auburn on Route 4 to Weld, Maine, I discovered that the road was washed out due to recent extensive rains. So much for careful planning and meticulous execution. Now what?
While I was disappointed, I had no problem finding a Plan B based on a quick review of the map and my Maine Mountain Guide. I would continue my journey north on Route 4, a designated scenic highway, stop in Oquossoc (a village in Rangeley), and climb the short (1.3 mile), but challenging trail to the summit of Bald Mountain (elevation = 2,443 feet, elevation gain = 943 feet). Then, I would proceed south on scenic Route 17 to Mexico, and from there to Bethel, Norway, and the Maine Turnpike south in Gray for a short, high-speed return to Wells.

This turned out to be an excellent plan, because (a) I was able to attain the summit despite a very challenging ascent on a trail with some pretty steep (although mercifully short) sections, and (b) the views from the summit of the surrounding lakes and mountains, including Mt. Washington, were excellent. I really enjoyed my time on the summit, which I shared with only a few other hikers, which made the tricky descent over the steeper sections of the trail worth the effort.

As I reflected on my hike later, I realized that at this point in my development as a hiker the Bald Mountain trail was a real test of my hiking ability; so much so that I was thankful that a washed out access road had kept me off the Brook Trail, supposedly the shortest and easiest route to the summit of Tumbledown Mountain, because it is roughly twice as steep as the Bald Mountain trail (i.e., rising approximately 1000 feet in one-half mile versus a similar distance in just over 1 mile). Making it to the summit and enjoying the scenic vistas of the Lakes Region of western Maine added to my sense of accomplishment and to my excitement about my new pastime and passion, hiking. [Check out the photos in the slideshow below from this short but challenging 2½ mile round trip hike, and from my drive on the scenic highways around Rangeley Lake. To move from one slide to the next, just click the directional arrow on the side of the picture.]

In addition to my early adventures in Acadia and Baxter State Park, and reading inspiring stories of others’ adventures on the Appalachian Trail (discussed in prior chapters), there is one more reason why I set out on my quest to become a hiker—a man named Willem Lange. I will explain why this New England hiking icon had such a profound influence on me in the next chapter of Maine Hiker’s Journal (A Hiking Guru).

Click A Hiking Guru to read the next chapter.

Click Maine Hiker's Journal to return to the home page of the journal.

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