Sunday, August 10, 2014

A Peninsula near Freeport

Sitting on a peninsula between the rocky shorelines on Casco Bay and the Harraseeket River, about 3 miles from downtown Freeport, Maine is a 200-acre park of varied ecosystems, including climax white pine and hemlock forests, a salt marsh estuary, and craggy beaches.  Contrasting with commercial bustle of the outlets and restaurants is the quiet and relative seclusion within the park.  Wolfe's Neck Woods State Park was a gift of Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence M.C. Smith in 1969.

Following our hikes earlier in July at Crawford Notch and Mount Monadnock in New Hampshire, our July 26th hike was well within the category of "easy."  Our hike started along the shoreline of Casco Bay, which featured sedimentary rock outcroppings, gravely beaches, and an osprey sanctuary on a near-shore island.  The second half was the cross-peninsula Harraseeket Trail, which skirted above the banks of the Harraseeket River.

The Casco Bay Trail
Skirting the shoreline, the trail connects to the rocky beaches on the bay.
The gravely beach along Casco Bay.
The rock outcroppings on the beach, with Googins Island in the background.
Marine growth on the outcrops in the intertidal zone.
Closeup of the layers of the sedimentary outcropping.

The Harraseeket Trail
The cross-peninsula Harraseeket Trail traverses a relatively flat terrain mostly in a mixed canopy.  After crossing Wolf Neck Road, the trail approaches the river, staying 20 to 30 feet above the shoreline.

Hiking through the woods of Wolfe's Neck.
Fern groundcover in a sunny break in the forest canopy.
Glimpses of the Harraseeket River 
The Harraseeket River as seen from the namesake trail

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Return to the Mountaintop!

Mt. Monadnock, on the clear day of
our previous climb, July 5, 2009.
One of my goals for this summer was a return to the mountaintop.  We had a little warm-up the week before climbing the Frankenstein Cliffs trail at Crawford Notch in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.  But I really wanted to return to Mt. Monadnock in southwestern New Hampshire.  So, 5 years and 6 days after our last climb, my son and I returned on July 13, 2014.

Quoting my previous post:  "With a height of 3,165 feet (965 meters), Mount Monadnock is said to be the second most frequently climbed mountain in the world, after Mount Fuji in Japan. Located in southwestern New Hampshire (USA), on a clear day, one can see 100 miles (160 km) from the mountaintop. What makes the views so spectacular is the bare rock summit above the treeline and in the midst of unique alpine vegetation."

Here I am in the wind and the fog at
the summit.  
Well, the views on July 13, 2014 were not as spectacular.   In fact, a storm front was moving in and the summit was enshrouded in clouds, with 60 mph gusts and visibility of, maybe 500 feet.  The summit was closed shortly after I began my descent.

Oh, well.  Missed the views but it was still great to be up there with the wind and fog and moisture hanging in the air!

I had to include the following photo from our 2009 climb, to demonstrate how spectacular the view can be.  The rest of the photos were from this year's climb.
View from the mountaintop, July 5, 2009

The White Dot trail starts out so deceptively flat.  But not for long!
Rocks, roots, uneven ground:  always need good footwear!
The first view from a small rocky ledge about halfway up the trail.
Hazy view a little further along the climb.

Ferns form a understory in the thinner forest part way up.
View from the tree line

The craggy mountain above the tree line.  A good bit of climbing from here up is on the sloping rock face.

After over an hour of climbing, the first view of the summit comes tells you there's still a long way to go!
Above the tree line, the strong winds keep the vegetation stunted

Little ecosystems in the pools that form with the rocks near the summit.

Views just below the summit.

Hikers on the foggy summit
Trail map:   Both times, we too the White Dot trail for the climb and the White Cross for the descent.