Some days are made for hikes and today was one of them. The temperature was right–in the upper 40˚s-low 50˚s. No sun. And no bugs.
So, after church, my guy and I drove to the trailhead for Burnt Meadow Mountain in Brownfield, Maine. At the signs indicating the trail splits in two–North Peak to our right, Twin Brook to the left, we knew we planned on covering the loop, but my guy stopped and asked which way I wanted to ascend the mountain.
Nose scrunched, I replied, “North Peak.”
He chuckled for he knows my love/hate relationship with this mountain.
Today my love began with the new leaves, like that of the red oak,
and beech. I worshiped them all for their subtle colors and textures. Spring is the time of year that reminds us to live in the moment, for the natural world demonstrates constant change.
And then there were the flowers, like the trailing arbutus, aka mayflower.
And another of a similar name, Canada mayflower.
In the shrub layer, occasionally we came upon the beauty of serviceberry or shadbush flowers flowing in the breeze, exhibiting their own take on these fleeting moments.
And cleaving to the rocks as we climbed, early saxifrage. It’s also known as rockbreaker for this habit, and perhaps suggested the Latin name–Saxifraga virginiensis. Saxum-rock and frangere-to break. A funny name for an uncommon display.
I did my best admiring my surroundings for I knew what awaited. My guy paused as the summit came into sight, expecting me to comment. For once, I kept quiet.
And then, when the time arrived, we both channeled our inner mountain goat and sought hand holds and foot holds as we scrambled up the nasty dash to the top. Ha ha. It’s difficult to scramble when your heart pounds while your body quivers. This is the section I most hate–and as I always told our sons when they were youngsters, hate is a strong word. I knew I could do this for I’ve done it many times before, so I tried not to take too long as I considered my next move. Plus, rain drops began to fall and I didn’t want to be stuck contemplating on slippery granite. But still.
Finally–success. We’d reached the flattened top of the mountain–such a welcome relief after that horrible section. You’d think it was miles long the way I carry on about it. The rain drops ceased and we sat on lunch rock to dine–dirty hands and knees our badges of honor.
Our view from the rock–looking back toward our point of ascension.
And forward toward Stone Mountain. After lunch, our plan was to follow the Twin Brooks Trail that passes through the saddle between Burnt Meadow and Stone.
And to our right–looking toward the White Mountains.
Though the view is almost 350˚, our immediate view behind lunch rock offered layers of life–blueberries, a young paper birch and a white pine.
At last we started down. The Twin Brooks Trail is longer, but less of a struggle. That being said, it’s not a walk in the park as there are constant roots and rocks seeking attention.
But occasionally there are views. I was afraid we might not see Mount Washington today, but it didn’t disappoint.
On the way down, we were in the land of the birch, their catkins growing long . . .
and exploding with life-giving pollen.
There were violas to admire.
And more shadbush.
But one of my other favorite things about this trail is the bear claw trees. No matter how many times I see them, they still bring a smile to my heart–and face. And a memory of seeing a bear on the North Peak trail one summer–it sauntered past us, not seeming to care that we were there. I suspect its belly was stuffed with blueberries.
As we continued to descend, we soon heard the sound of one of the brooks for which the trail is named. Quite often on this trail, the water barely trickles, but today it rushed over the moss-covered rocks.
Continuing on, we remembered that two hikers we meet at the start said there had been some logging and sometimes it was difficult to follow the trail. At last, my guy found the area they’d referenced. The trails are on private land and so while we couldn’t find some familiar landmarks, we nevertheless were thankful that we were still able to hike there. And, we were mindful to look for the yellow blazes as we stepped over some slash. It was quite doable.
The result–a bear tree we hadn’t seen before was revealed.
It must have offered plenty to eat in the past for the tree was well climbed all the way to its crown. Maybe we’d once met the very bear. Maybe not. Who knows. But it’s worth a wonder.
A bear of another kind also left behind a sign of its presence. We obviously weren’t the only ones who headed to the mountain for a date.
In one last spot a short way from finishing the loop, we found our last bear tree–again seen because of the logging. I suspect there are many more in these woods and hope they don’t all get cut.
Emerging leaves. Spring flowers. Jagged outcropping. Flowing water. Bear trees.
Really, it was a love/hate/love Sundate–joyfully spent with my guy.