Our original plan was to hike to the summit of Blueberry Mountain in Evans Notch today, following the White Cairn trail up and Stone House Trail down. But . . . so many were the cars on Stone House Road, that we decided to go with Plan B.
And so up Route 113 I drove, turning left just before crossing from New Hampshire back into Maine.
By the parking lot for The Basin, we pulled out our lunch and set up camp temporarily at a picnic table as we enjoyed the view of the manmade pond and Sugarloaf Mountain before us.
The Basin is a low-elevation glacial cirque carved out of the east side of the Baldface-Royce range. Though we’ve visited the pond on numerous occasions, we’d only hiked the trails circling it once before. And as we recalled while sharing a brain in the memory department, that had been thirteen years ago when our oldest son was in seventh grade. It was a fine September day and we’d headed off to climb the Basin Trail. At first, we couldn’t find the brook crossing, so eventually we made our own. And, what we didn’t realize that day was that at the top of said trail we should have turned around and descended. Instead, in our ignorance, we’d continued on the Basin Rim Trail, assuming they were one in the same. Not so. Hours later, we practically slid down one of the Royce trails, splashed across another brook, bushwhacked to the road and followed it down as quickly as we could to our vehicle. It was late in the afternoon and we knew that our seventh grader was anxiously waiting for us . . . because it was also the very day that he could receive his school-supplied Apple computer if his parents attended an after-school meeting with him. That was pre-cell phone time in our lives and we didn’t have enough change for the one pay phone at the Stow Corner Store, which happened to be closed. We raced home, found he wasn’t there and while my guy went in search of our younger son, I zoomed to the middle school, sweaty, muddy and bloody (from a few encounters with branches and rocks), to find that my sister-in-law who teaches there had stood in as a surrogate until I arrived. Today we carried a map.
And knew what Rim junction meant.
As the north wind blew, it felt rather autumn like and added to our memory bank, while also the perfect day for a hike. And the hobblebush berries and leaves showed off their almost autumn colors.
Berries were abundant–especially upon red trillium,
and white baneberry (doll’s eyes–can you see why?).
The trail was easy at the start, switching from roots to stones to rocks before climbing. Since we’d attended Lake Region Community Theatre‘s fine performance of The Wizard of Oz last night and the trail blazes were yellow, it felt a bit like we were following the yellow brick road.
At about the one-mile mark, we chose the Hermit Falls loop.
Water poured over the lower falls,
and from there we spied the upper.
Though a couple of fallen trees crossed the waterway, the view and sound were pleasing to our senses. It was at this point that our climb became steeper.
We spend a lot of time looking down when climbing up, but because we were in a beech forest I knew I had to look–for bear claw trees. And I wasn’t disappointed.
Even in the upper trunk we could see the marks left behind.
And then my guy pointed out another tree he thought I should note–it looked rather like a burl gone bad. We don’t know what happened, but the final result was rather gnarly, and still the tree continued to grow and produced leaves.
Huge boulders littered the woods as we continued our climb.
Closer to the summit, the trail followed a rather precarious shelf beside the base of a big headwall cliff–I didn’t take time to photograph it for I was focused on each step, but at last we saw the light at the end of the tunnel.
Before stepping out to the viewpoint, we walked ahead to the spot where we’d erred thirteen years ago. Today it’s well marked. In fact, this junction includes five options and my guy took the time to point in each direction. Our choice: to return from whence we’d come–behind us.
At last, we turned back to take in the view from the Basin below us to Pleasant Mountain on our far right. We noted a cloud casting its shadow over Blueberry Mountain and trust we would have been blown off had we stuck with Plan A.
Though we’d brought containers to pick blueberries, that wasn’t to be. But at the summit we noted a blue of a different hue, a blue-bead lily garden by our feet,
and mountain ash berries maturing above our heads.
Finally, we started down. After the initial scramble on the rocks and roots just below the summit, I once again turned my attention to the life around me and realized I’d missed this display of fungi on the way up–velvet stalked fairy fan mushrooms (Spathularia velutipes). They actually reminded me of miniature cowboy finger puppets donning oversized hats.
And . . . another bear claw tree–this one highlighted with a trail blaze. How sweet is that?
Follow the yellow brick road.
At last we were back on flattish ground and made our usual mad dash out.
As we drove home, I gave my guy a choice–ice cream at the Stow Corner Store or turn onto Deer Hill Road (actually a road of many names) to the bog and then to Evergreen Valley. He said the choice was all mine and so I chose the latter. And as I knew it would because it always does, it made me want to return when I have time on my hands. I will–that is a promise to myself.
Today’s stop included a chorus of bullfrogs–adding to my list of finds beginning with the letter B.
As it worked out, we were glad we followed Plan B.
B is for . . . The Basin and the bog and all that we saw in between.
Thanks for stopping by.