Caribou-Speckled Wilderness hike

July 1, 2005.

10.5 miles | 6 hr

Brickett Place > Royce Tr > E Royce Tr > Spruce Hill Tr > Ames Mtn > Blueberry Ridge > Blueberry Mtn > Bickford Brook Tr > return

So much for a ten hour hike! I must have overestimated the distance on this one. It took me about 6 hours to finish.

It was treacherous. For most of the hike I was either walking through fog or being dripped on by the canopy above (or the shrubs below!). After the first few miles I was soaked through. And to think, I’d painstakingly sought out dry river crossings 5 or 6 times during the first mile, just to end up totally saturated with water.

Complaining aside, I had an amazing day on the trails. The stream was beautiful. A few small cascades led up to Mad River Falls, the first major landmark of the day. The Maine wilderness, with its mixed deciduous forest, lichen-encrusted rock faces, open habitat and dense green cover can all be seen in a simple 10 mile hike. There were signs of life everywhere. I found several owl pellets as well as either deer or moose scat along several stretches of trail. They call it the Caribou-Speckled Wilderness. I don’t know about caribou, but something sure speckled the wilderness.

I heard several familiar songs: wood thrush, hermit thrush, white-throated sparrow and chickadee. I also discovered the blackpoll warbler, a dull-looking bird sounding much like a cedar waxwing. I flushed out some kind of grouse, squealing like a stuck pig. There were screaming blue jays and squirrels, too. Just like home!

Much of the hike was tough but manageable. Nothing I couldn’t handle. I was especially careful since I was alone, and the last thing I wanted to hear my dad say was “I told you so.” I didn’t see any other hikers out here today, so if anything had happened to me…

The very last leg of the hike was the worst because there was a long stretch of steep, slick boulders. I inched on at a snail’s pace, choosing every step with care. It felt scary. However, I found myself smiling and laughing all the way because I couldn’t believe how ridiculous it was.

My poor knees were screaming. But they made it out just fine, and they’re in for more of the same tomorrow.

On the drive back to camp, magic happened. I look right and see a giant moose face in the trees just off the side of the road. I came to a stop in the middle of the road and momentarily glimpsed this giant moose, who looked up at me, turned and ran into the forest. MAINE!

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