Friday, January 20, 2012

Borestone Mountain, Elliotsville, ME

     Thanks for stopping by! I thought I would do a little recap here of a fun adventure I had following Christmas just a few weeks ago, and to share the wonderful photos taken by my friend Kimberly Hammill.
     Kimberly and I decided we should embark on a hike, and we had hoped to choose one that was challenging, offered great reward, yet was one we could do in a matter of a few hours. Borestone immediately came to mind.
     I had engaged in hiking up Borestone Mountain a few times before, and felt it was a perfect fit for what we were looking for. In the warmer months, this mountain proved to be a quick and steep ascent, and with it's bare summit and prime location, it affords breathtaking views. It also fit our limited schedule as well, because it is only a few miles from trailhead to summit.

     We arrived at the trailhead, and began down past the gate. Just past the gate, you have your choice of paths. You can either choose to continue forward down the Access Road, which is just a wide dirt road leading directly to the visitor center by Sunrise Pond, and the Summit Trailhead. Or you can opt to take the more primitive Base Trail, a .8 mile trail which brings you steeply through mature forest. In all subsequent visits I had chosen to take Base Trail, and this time was no different. Or, at least, it began so.
     We hadn't made it very far on Base Trail before realizing it was going to be far more difficult than we had anticipated. We enjoyed making the attempt, aside from a few falls. The loose snow gave way to ice, and our boots just simply did not grip it well.
     We pushed a ways, but after slipping a few more times, I stated that this was going to be too difficult without spikes, which we did not bring. So we decided to bail on the Base Trail attempt, and head back for the easier Access Road. My fear was that the Summit Trail could prove to be just as icy, or possibly even worse, given the steep grade. Worse case, we would get nice views from the base of the mountain, and of the alpine ponds, so all would not be lost.

       So on we went, down the much easier Access Road. The scene was beautiful, white with snow, watching red squirrels dance about the tree branches.
     A little beyond the halfway point, there is a short trail to the right that takes you to a nice overlook. This trail is accessible from both the Access Road and Base Trail. It's nice, because not even a mile in and you already have your breath taken away by the view. We stopped and enjoyed the overlook, which offers an expansive picturesque view of Greenwood Pond.
Greenwood Pond

       We had continued down the Access Road, passing bathrooms on our right. The restrooms are closed this time of year, but offer a nice luxury for hikers in warm seasons. A little further, and you come to pass a visitor center, also closed for winter.
     Shortly, We had come to Sunrise pond, and an exquisite view of Borestone Mountain. It has a formidable appearance, despite it being relatively small compared to many of the area mountains. The exposed rocky summit gives it a more hardcore alpine image. That same exposed summit affords incredible views of the surrounding mountains. I just hope we can make it!
Borestone Mountain
     The Summit Trail begins by wrapping around the pond, and has you balancing on logs and boards over a few small streams.
     Once around the pond, the trail begins a steep climb up through dense spruce forest. While fairly steep, the trail proved passable despite the ice. This has been made possible by the addition of stone steps in some areas, thanks to the Maine Conservation Corps. Numbering 130 in total, the steps provide us with ample footing to make it quite a ways up the mountain before coming across more challenging areas.
     Once we had arrived to a point where teases of views began appearing, the trail became significantly more difficult, due to the snow and ice. We had encountered a few hurdles, steep areas of trail that had become a sheet of ice, offering little grasp. It was doable, and I encouraged my friend to continue as well. She is not as experienced a climber as I, so this challenge was foreign to her. So I would go first, showing her how I did each part, and she followed, sometimes reluctantly, but we  pulled through, and were always glad we did.

     We were almost to the top, just shy of summit, and the views were already absolutely incredible. The challenges to reach the top increased as well, however.
     After passing another steep, icy climb, one that tested our limits, we came to what appeared to be a last final test. The hardest of all, however. To reach the very top, there was this short gap, followed by slanted rock. The slanted rock, of course, was all ice. It would be a long drop should I fail.
     I stood there, contemplating a possible route. I had decided on the best way, however it would be a risk. I also could not see a way back down that wouldn't prove ugly. I turned to my friend, and told her this was as far as we are going. We looked around at the awesome views, and we were okay with that decision.

     All in all, it was a great and exciting climb for a modest mountain. The winter conditions added to the challenge, and even caused us to fall short of the summit. It would have been safer had we brought spikes, though that last challenge just under the actual summit would probably feel safe only with an ice axe as well!        

     I will have to return here again someday in the near future, because for a few hours of hiking, you get great mountain views and plenty of enjoyment.

photos provided by permission by Kimberly Hammill.
to learn more about Borestone Mountain, visit:

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