Sunday, February 8, 2009

The Bemis Track

Yesterday I decided to hike out to Angel Falls which is located in a remote area about a mile off an old railroad bed called the Bemis Track. The Bemis track is barely passable as a road in the summer and in the winter only serves snowmobilers traveling the wild country between Lake Mooselookmeguntic and the Tumbledown region. It's a good place to be alone.

I parked my car just off Route 17 and changed into my hiking boots, adjusting my backpack with the snowshoes strapped to the outside. I knew that I would need the snowshoes for the mile hike from the Bemis track to the falls, but thought the track would be packed down enough by snowmobilers that I might be able to cover the four miles to the trailhead faster in my bare boots.

Everything was so quiet--no birds, no wind, no sound of rushing water from the brook that paralleled the trail. The rushing water was buried deep beneath many feet of ice and as I looked off the trail at the book, I could only imagine its course by the buried mounds of boulders.

So, off I went, leaving the car at 11 a.m. It's hard to judge distance along the track and with the late start, I decided that if I was not to the trailhead by 1 p.m., I would turn around. Charlie was at a ski race and would not be home to notice that I was missing until close to dark--late to mount a rescue effort--and the bargain I have struck with the ones who love me is that they won't complain about me hiking alone if I exercise extreme caution.

It was hard walking, slightly uphill at a railroad grade and the snow was not as hard packed as I had imagined it would be. My feet sank in about 2 inches with each step and by 12 when I stopped to find the trailmix in my pack and to drink some water, I was really getting tired. I munched the trail mix and kept walking wondering if maybe I should put on my snowshoes. Just before 1 p.m., I saw a big boulder up the road a ways and decided to walk to the boulder and then decide what to do. I made it to the boulder and decided to put my snowshoes on and turn around.

As I was putting on my snowshoes, I heard the roar of snowmobiles that soon materialized coming from the direction of Mooselookmeguntic. The leader pulled up beside me and looked for all the world like he had just driven off the pages of an L. L. Bean catalogue with his green wool Maine guide jacket and handsome chiseled features. The people on the many sleds behind him had the look of eager weekend visitors who had paid him for a snowmobile adventure. He asked me if I was safe and I said yes. I asked him how far to the trailhead since he had just come from that direction and he said about 1/2 mile but suggested that I turn around as it was getting late and cold. I agreed. He patted the back of his sled and told me to hop on. I was tempted--tired and facing 2 hours back to my car--but I shook my head, assured him that I was fine and sent them on their way.

Before heading back I took out my camera and took one picture before the battery died. Kind of a weird day--no goals realized but I am a firm believer that in life it is the process not the product that matters. I had a wonderful day breathing fresh air, exercising my body, remembering all the other hikes to Angel Falls and casting my cares off into the snowy world.

16 comments:

The Texican said...

That .44 magnum revolver in your backpack probably slowed you a little. You can't carry as much trail mix, but if you get stranded you can bring down a bear for extra clothing and meat. Glad you had a great hike. Sounds beautiful. Pappy

Loveanewidea said...

What a terrific description of your hike - I could really get a sense of the setting, AND the snowmobile driver!

Weather Boy said...

I know it's unconscionable to admit this, but I've never been to Angel Falls. It's on the list for this summer, only higher than it's been in past years.

Regardless of the outcome, it sounds like a good day.

Rondi said...

A beautiful day all the same! (I would have taken the ride...and admire you for opting to walk out!)

beth said...

you are a real hiker...as I would have had my ass on the back of that snowmobile before he even patted the seat....I'm such a wimp !!

KaHolly said...

What a wonderful hike you had. Did it kind of burst your bubble when you heard the roar of the snowmobilers?

Marianne said...

Lake Mooselookmeguntic. Do you know how much I LOVE that name???? And...dou you know...ummm...just how fast I would have jumped on the back of that snowmobile??? hahahaha and it wouldn't have been the late and the cold I was thinkin' 'bout!

Beth said...

Tex, is that some sort of gun or something? I think I'll depend on good looking men on snowmobiles rather than shooting bear, but it is a good idea for some. :-)

Loveanewidea, thanks, it was a fun day

Weather Boy, You must go, it's truly startling. The falls seem to come from nowhere--just a little piddling stream and then Holy Niagara--

Rondi, next time you are up at your camp, let's hike out there. A blogfriend outing.

Beth, you make me laugh

KaHolly, no it was actually nice to see them, I was surprised that there hadn't been more through the day. Snowmobiles are noisy and smelly but the snowmobilers are really just people who like to be outside--just like us.

Marianne, Mooselookmegunticook, teach that one to Jahan the next time he is eating blueberries! Oh, that guy was classic--a Maine Guide straight from Central Casting. I was so mad that my camera battery ran out, I would have sent you his picture.

Kallen305 said...

It sounds like a great hike despite some of the environmental conditions. I have been walking in the snow lately too and let me tell you it is indeed hard work. I can't even imagine going as long as you did.

The snowmobile driver sounds like my kind of man. I melt over LL Bean. ;o)

mon@rch said...

Not sure what I would have done but I do enjoy being out walking, you do see more!

beckie said...

Beth I admire your determination in doing the hike. And also your will power for not hoping on that snowmobile with the hottie. :}

It looks so beautiful there, if only it weren't so cold, I know I enjoy the solitude and the scenery.

Jayne said...

I can't even imagine attempting that on my own. You amaze me Beth! And, like the other wimps who replied, I'll say that I'd have jumped on behind that dude in a nanosecond! :c)

troutbirder said...

Life as an adventure! Ive enjoyed coming across your blog

Carey's Corner said...

Sounds like a good episode for Surviorman(woman). That's got to keep you in shape.

Mary said...

LOL! I agree with most. I'd be on the back of that mobile in a flash.

Thanks for taking us on your walk. It's hard work in the snow. I'm impressed (as usual).

Mary

Kathiesbirds said...

Beth, what a wonderful story! I would have been so tempted to hop on that snowmobile though! Still, I can feel the serenity in your soul from this hike. How wonderful it was! You are making me think of Louise Dickenson Rich with this post! "We Took to the Woods" and others.