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An annual Maine hike
RUMFORD- When Nodia Dolloff came to Maine in 2012 she and her dad agreed to hike White Cap and enjoyed the blueberries at the top and the amazing views of the valley through the clouds that were left behind by a rainstorm.
This year, Nodia decided to go the hike without her dad, and joined her cousin, Michaela Ryerson, Zac Berry and myself. I decided that Mt. Zircon would be a much easier hike to take Nodia on, since she is used to pretty flat ground when she is at home in Georgia.
We set out for the hike from the parking area on the South Rumford Road, but before leaving the parking lot, I set my GPS to see how close to the projected 2.8-mile distance the trail traveled to the top.
Now, when I say that this hike is much easier, I do mean that. For the first 2.2 miles you follow a dirt road with a gradual incline that is used by the Rumford Water District, local loggers, and where the snowmobile trail connects.
Following the road, we came across several clusters of wildflowers; black-eyed Susans, daisies, indian paintbrush and Queen Anne’s Lace. There were also several spots of pucker brush which will give way to a nice pick of blackberries in the next few weeks. We also passed by the old spring house, which is gated off and an old foundation that were used back in Moontide Springs’ hay day.
While walking up the road, it seemed there were several spiders out enjoying the day, as well. Michaela, Zac and Nodia were constantly getting a little freaked out by the silk that was streaming across their faces and arms. They stopped several times to try and rid themselves of the sticky substance, and of course hoping no spiders were attached.
Nodia lagged behind a bit and with her being from the south, I would yell back and ask her if she was alright, but it sounded more like awite? So our accents became a point of friendly teasing. Mainah and Georgian, what a combination.
At the point in the road where the Zircon trail branches off to the left, the trail is clearly marked with a sign, although the trail itself at the end is covered by a bit of tall grass.
Once we started our uphill journey through the trees, we were able to see remnants of old electrical poles that were strung to the top. A couple trees still had the ceramic insulators still attached to them with wire.
Nodia realized very quickly just how flat Georgia was and began lagging behind. Her muscles just aren’t used to hiking. I’ve said it plenty of times before, but the only exercise that gets you in shape for hiking, is hiking.
A little ways up the trail, Zac and Michaela began to fall back a little, too, and I couldn’t figure out why they were getting so tired so quickly. Come to find out, they were swapping turns carrying the backpack that they had packed with Subway sandwiches, full-size bags of chips, water and a jar of salsa. Yes, a jar of salsa for Nodia. This ended up being a funny moment to look back on, because I had honestly never heard of bringing so much on a hike.
As we got closer to the top there were sections of rock that were slippery from groundwater and with only sneakers on, the three of them had to be sure of their footing, because as Nodia and Michaela found out on the way down, the ground comes up quick when your feet slip out from underneath you.
With the trees thinning and the ledge coming into sight, the top was a welcome relief to the hungry teens, but they were a little disgruntled when they realized that it was one of three false summits.
The views from these ledges are gorgeous; one looking out over downtown Rumford and the mill, another of the river and Route 2 and the other of Concord Pond and the Spruce Mountain wind towers.
From the top, where the old fire tower lays on its’ side, no longer in use, there is a bounty of blueberries and amazing photo opportunities. We found a great spot near the tower, overlooking the valley under the setting sun and sat to enjoy our snacks and even checked out a Geo Cache that’s hidden up there.
After having a little chat with the Almighty, wishing Michaela’s mom, Christine Sterry, a happy birthday with the balloons she had towed up, we took some pictures on the tallest rock pile and decided to head back down before we got caught in the dark.
The distance to the summit from the logging road was eight-tenths of a mile, making the round trip hike approximately six miles.
It was a nice night to be out on the mountain and the trip back, as always, was faster and we were back to the parking lot in no time.
Nodia didn’t think her legs would be sore the next day, but posted on her Facebook was a statement contrary to her belief.
When I asked her if she would do it again, she stated the same as she had in 2012, “I think I’ll give it a year and when I’ve forgotten how bad this was, I’ll do it again.”
Have you had friends or family visiting from out of town this summer and would like to share their experiences or photos of their visit? Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 364-7893, I would enjoy seeing how others spend their summer days and highlight them here.