1-Minute Hike series recaps second year of trails, 100-plus Maine adventures

I missed my anniversary. At the end of October, the 1-Minute Hike series officially turned two years old. Where was I? Busy hiking, probably.

Actually, now that I think on it, I was chasing a ghost in Bucksport (See “Haunted 1-minute hike: Silver Lake in Bucksport”).

For those of you unfamiliar with the 1-Minute Hike series, here’s how it works. Each week, I visit a hiking trail somewhere in Maine. I record my experience with video, photos and writing, then drive back to Bangor to polish it up for readers and viewers.

katahdin13The written description of the hike and select photos — a stunning mountain view, vibrant mushrooms, a startled deer — are published in the Bangor Daily News Outdoors section each Thursday. And all that, along with a short video, are also published on my BDN blog, “Act Out with Aislinn.” I even have an interactive map.

So far, I haven’t visited the same trail twice, and I haven’t missed a week. You don’t have to be particularly good at math (which I’m not) to calculate that since there are 52 weeks in a year, I complete at least 52 different Maine hikes each year. And since I’ve recently failed to celebrate my second year anniversary of the project, I’ve now hiked more than 104 different Maine hikes.

So without further ado, here are a few highlights from 1-Minute Hikes “season two”:

mountwaldoThe season premiere was a hike to the snow-dusted summit of Mount Waldo in Frankfort, a popular local hike that ends at a massive radio tower and a view of the area.

A month later, my Subaru’s thermometer read 7 degrees Fahrenheit as I drove into Carrabassett Valley to hike the newly-blazed Newton’s Revenge Trail to the grand opening of Maine Huts and Trails Stratton Brook Hut. Snowshoes weren’t required for that hike, but three weeks later, a storm dumped several feet of snow on the state. Excited to frolick in my high-tech alpine snowshoes, I headed to Greenville to trek into Little Moose and Big Moose ponds. Despite the snowshoes, I sunk until the powder was over my knees. Huffing and puffing, I broke trail through the silent forest of evergreens cloaked in white.

hurdatNext, Derek (my boyfriend and frequent hiking buddy) and I climbed to the snowy summit of Great Pond Mountain in Orland; and the following week, we visited the Appalachian Trail to break trail to the pristine and solidly frozen Little Hurd Pond.

Like anyone else, I get the sniffles, and sometimes, I just don’t feel like traveling very far. During those times, I explored local hikes, including Bangor’s Walden-Parke Preserve, Brewer’s Sherwood Forest Park and Orono’s Jeremiah Colburn Natural Area.

As the frozen state teetered between winter and spring, I visited a few small mountains, including Lincolnville’s Frohock Mountain, Rome’s Roundtop Mountain and Steuben’s Pigeon Hill.

Katahdin seen from the slopes of Number Four Mountain on March 15, 2013.

Katahdin seen from the slopes of Number Four Mountain on March 15, 2013.

Then I set my sights on a taller summit, the 2,890-foot Number Four Mountain near Moosehead Lake. But I failed. I took a wrong turn and snowshoed for miles on snowmobile roads before calling it quits — at least for the day. After studying a map and discovering where I went wrong, I returned the next week and hiked to Number Four’s 48-foot fire tower for a panoramic view of the snowy, mountainous Moosehead region.

As spring arrived, I headed to the coast to wander the trail network on Sears Island and hike Mansell and Norumbega mountains in Mount Desert Island’s Acadia National Park. I then took a trip north into The County, where I viewed potato fields from the top of Quaggy Jo Mountain and observed Canada geese chase each other in Aroostook National Wildlife Refuge.

gorhammtnIn May, I adopted Oreo, a young black-and-white pit bull mix who soon became my most frequent hiking companion. On his first hike, up Gorham Mountain in Acadia National Park, he navigated the rocks cautiously, often pausing and letting me go ahead of him before braving an especially big step. But by the end of the hike, I could already see his confidence growing as he splashed through brooks and scrambled up the island’s rosy granite.

harpswellmapSummer had fully arrived when my sister, Oreo and I drove to the coastal town of Harpswell to complete the annual hiking challenge — eight separate trails in two days (which we intended to complete in just one day). We met the challenge, and by the end of the day, all three of us were exhausted from not only hiking, but also navigating to each trailhead, searching for checkpoints and videotaping the entire wonderful experience.

Next, I gave the Moosehead region a little love by hiking Eagle Rock (a lesser-known hike that turned out to be amazing), Burnt Jacket Mountain and Elephant Mountain, to the famous B-52 crash site and memorial.

beechhill5In the Midcoast area, hiking buddies joined me to walk to the historic stone hut atop Beech Hill in Rockport and then to Camden’s Maiden Cliff, where a giant metal cross that stands in memorial to a little girl who perished there in 1864.

In Baxter that summer, I solo-hiked Mount OJI for an amazing view of the park. I then joined a group of family and friends to labor up Katahdin, first to Pamola Peak, then across the treacherous Knife Edge to Baxter Peak and across the mountain’s otherworldly tableland to Abol Trail, which descends down a steep rock katahdinviewslide (not a recommended way down). And with the Maine Youth Wilderness Group, I trekked into Katahdin Lake, where they learned about watercolor painting from Maine artist Michael Vermette.

At the height of summer, Derek, Oreo and I headed east to Cutler, a small fishing town on the Bold Coast. Public trails led us to cobblestone beaches, enchanted mossy forests, fields of wildflowers and drastic sea cliffs. At a campsite by culter080313-5Fairy Head, we set up a tent and slept to the sound of crashing waves.

Each week was an adventure, from picking blackberries in Castine’s Witherle Woods to avoiding porcupines in Great Pond Mountain Wildlands in Orland.

Hedgehog Mountain in Freeport, a place home to a remarkable number of squirrels and chipmunks, was my 100th hike for the series. I had no idea at the time.

mountblue10To wrap up the second year, Oreo and I climbed through an orange, yellow and red forest to the observation tower atop Mount Blue in Weld, wandered Wolfe’s Neck State Park in Freeport, jogged the trails of Gibson Preserve in Searsmont and searched for a ghost by Silver Lake.

After 104 Maine hikes, I’ve only sampled just a small percentage of all the beautiful footpaths in the state, and I have a long list of trails I plan to visit in the future.

To watch the recap video for the first year of “1-minute hikes,” click here.

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Aislinn Sarnacki

About Aislinn Sarnacki

Aislinn is a Bangor Daily News reporter for the Outdoors pages, focusing on outdoor recreation and Maine wildlife. Visit her main blog at actoutwithaislinn.bangordailynews.com.