The “1-minute hike” series is officially one year old. And since the goal was to bring readers a new hike each week, that means that in the past year, I have hiked in 52 different locations throughout Maine, a state with an abundance of trees, as well as trails to navigate through them.
I began the project on a crisp day in late October 2011 when I took a short drive from Bangor to Clifton to produce my first “1-minute hike” video while hiking up Eagle Bluff, a popular place for rock climbers.
Upon showing a few BDN coworkers my final product, one piped up and said, “It reminds me of a college video project,” not unkindly. My shoulders slumped, nevertheless. To be honest, there are a lot of awkward camera angles in the first “1-minute hike,” including romantic closeups of rustling fall foliage. My coworker wasn’t exactly wrong.
“You should put yourself in the video,” suggested an editor, noting that I didn’t appear on the screen once. “People will want to know who’s talking.”
“The video is about the hiking destination, not me,” I explained.
But it turns out that my editor was right. A rock face is usually more interesting with a person clambering up it, be it myself or the many hiking buddies who have joined me on hikes in the past year.
Fortunately for me, all the criticism of my first hiking video meant that my editors were willing to give my series a shot. All in all, they liked the “1-minute hike” — a video, along with a written description and photos, that tells a story about a specific outdoor destination in Maine.
So from my first hike in fall of 2011, I continued to complete a hike in a different location every week. No exceptions.
During Christmas week, I donned a Santa hat and hiked Mount Megunticook in Camden, and for the “1-minute hike” published on Halloween, my most frequent hiking buddy, Derek Runnells, and I dressed as ninja turtles and visited an old family cemetery beside the trail leading up Hogback Mountain in Montville.
In order, I hiked Eagle Bluff, Borestone Mountain, Big Moose Mountain, Fort Point State Park, Birdsacre, East Chairback Pond, Dorr Mountain, Day Mountain, Mount Megunticook, Black Mountain, Mount Battie, Dedham’s Bald Mountain, Bradbury Mountain and Sawyer Mountain, where I created a snow angel beside the trail and tracked “dinosaurs” (wild turkeys) with fellow BDN reporter Seth Koenig.
In the depth of winter, I hiked Fields Pond Audubon Center, Blackcap Mountain, Holbrook Island Sanctuary, Bangor City Forest and Little Moose Mountain.
The mild winter (by Maine standards) gave way to an early spring, when I was able to tackle the rocky slopes of Schoodic Mountain, Camden’s Bald Mountain, Canada Cliffs and Beech Cliffs, where I saw a snake lounging in the sun.
Then came Hirundo Wildlife Refuge, Huguenot Head, Bald Rock Mountain, Orono Bog Walk, Maine Wildlife Park and Debsconeag Ice Caves, where I crawled into a cave sparkling with ice on my birthday, May 12.
I attended the rainy opening of the Brownville Elementary School Nature Trail, then moved on to more a few more challenging hikes: Ragged Mountain, The Beehive, Gulf Hagas and Oquossoc’s Bald Mountain.
I walked the trails of Sandy Point Beach Park, Flying Mountain, Mount Kineo and Bald Bluff Mountain, where I got to know fellow hiker Carey Kish, editor of this year’s edition of the Appalachian Mountain Club’s Maine Mountain Guide.
In the midst of summer, I was prepared for some more strenuous climbs: Third Mountain, Mount Abraham and Baxter State Park’s Mount Katahdin, Mount Coe and South Brother.
I then hiked St. Sauver Mountain, Acadia Mountain, Tunk Mountain and the trails of Northeast Penjajawoc Preserve.
I headed into autumn with one of my favorite mountains, Big Spencer, and then visited some places that were new to me, Mount Phillip, Rome’s “The Mountain” and Tumbledown Mountain. I approached the one year anniversary with Blue Hill Mountain, Woodchuck Hill and Hogback Mountain; and polished off 52 Maine hikes with Pemetic Mountain, a favorite in Acadia National Park.
And it’s not over yet. Consider the first year “Season 1.”
I haven’t even scratched the surface of all the great footpaths our state has to offer. Of Maine’s 40 state parks, I’ve only visited a few, and I have barely touched the 281-miles of the Appalachian Trail that leads from the state’s western border to Mount Katahdin. Meanwhile, new trails are blazed through public and private lands each year.
From the first video to the 52nd, the project has evolved. I soon realized that a 1-minute video isn’t long enough to summarize most hikes, so I often stretched the videos to 3 or 4 minutes in length. The written descriptions of the hikes also lengthened as I became more interested in the geology and history of the sites.
As I got going, readers began contacting me with hiking suggestions, mountain stories and yes, the occasional correction. I’m thankful for all the support from readers (and viewers) and all the hiking buddies who agreed to hold my camera along the way.
See you on the trail.