Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Tumbledown Mountain--Chimney

This afternoon driving from Wilton, I took the scenic way home through Weld and around Webb Lake.

This picture is looking from the shoulder of Mt. Blue across Webb Lake toward Tumbledown Mountain. Tumbledown Mountain is one of my favorites. I've hiked it in all different seasons, on all different trails and every hike carries its own memories.

There have been family hikes, cross country team hikes, a winter hike with Nora, a mother's day hike, and a wedding hike with C. There have been hikes when we have gorged on blueberries along the trail and others when we have snoozed on boulders by the pond on the summit. Every time up Tumbledown, I re-remember that it's a tough hike, a big mountain and a treasure to have so close to home.

One summer day, my oldest son and youngest daughter wanted me to hike with them up the Chimney Trail. The chimney trail is officially closed--the signs are gone and the blazes faded from the trees--but the trail still appears on some old maps. My kids are as nimble as mountain goats and, as the name and the closure of the trail implies, the chimney trail requires that level of dexterity.

The Chimney Trail diverges from the well-traveled Loop Trail at about 2 miles and goes up at a precipitous angle through a vast boulder field. After finally navigating my way through the boulder field, dripping blood from several cuts in my legs, I thought the tough part was behind us. Looking up from the boulder field, there was a sheer rock face leading to the top of the mountain, while that gave me some pause, the trail went into the woods--it was steep but not out of the ordinary for a rugged mountain. E, who was then 20, and M, who was then 16, had gone ahead of me, scampering up rock faces and boulders as I progressed along the trail.

The trail came out of the woods with boulders on every side and, suddenly we saw two young men up ahead shouting down to us, "where does the trail go?" Hmmm, this was reason for concern--the trail ends? I have to go back down through those boulders?

E, always the hero, went ahead and talked to the men as I followed. He explained to them that the trail didn't end, it just went up through the boulders. That was the chimney--it was about two feet wide and maybe 30 feet high. In order to get through it hands and feet had to be used to shimmy up through this narrow passage. It twisted 3 times, making the maneuvers even more difficult. E went last, after pushing the two strangers and his mom up through. M, who must be part chipmunk, scaled the outside of the chimney. Once we all emerged on the summit of the mountain, we rested and laughed at ourselves and thanked E and got to know one another. The two hikers were from New York City and had come to Maine on a camping trip and using an old map had decided to hike up the Chimney Trail to the top of Tumbledown Mountain. I imagine they are still telling the story of that adventure, I know I am.


The Texican said...

If I come up this fall with B. are there any semi-flat trails that don't require letting blood? As always an inviting adventure well described.

Beth said...

We can find just about any level of hiking you are up to and I can guarantee beautiful views. If you have access to a stairmaster, though, it might not be a bad idea to spend some time on it--I'm assuming south Texas doesn't provide many natural training opportunities.

The Texican said...

Down here it's miles and miles of miles. They say cowboys were bowlegged from trying to hide in the short brush. I guess I could go out and try to step over some cactus plants.

Scottish Chimneys said...

Looks absolutely beautiful, very scenic indeed.