Outdoors in Maine: Last stretch of Boarstone hike is a real bear

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“You wimp,” Diane said. “I don’t believe this. The summit is just over that pile of rocks. I’m telling you the view is 360 degrees. It’s fantastic.”

“Nope,” I said with conviction. “This is far enough. I ain’t goin’.”

“But we have come all this way,” she said, more pleadingly than with scorn.

“Look,” I said in an attempt to sound calm and collected. “My leg muscles are shot. These worn out sneakers aren’t doing well for me on these rocks. There is a breathtaking view right here on this flat rock. Let’s eat our sandwich. Take a few pictures and head ‘er back down the mountain.”

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“Is it the height thing?” she queried with a furrowed brow. “Your face is ashen. This scares you being on the edge, doesn’t it. You have that same look you did when we were on the edge of the Grand Canyon.”

“Well, yeah, maybe a little.” I confessed. “But I’m beat and I just don’t want to turn an ankle or worse. That pile of rocks by the summit looks pretty challenging. You know, I have a busy fall ahead with the moose hunt and the elk hunt. I have nothing to prove. You go on up. I’ll wait here for you.”

She didn’t go up but just heaved a sigh. “OK,” was all she said.

Quietly, we ate our sandwiches on the flat rock and shared an apple. It was a still, bright, blue-sky, breathtaking September day. We could see for miles. Onawa Lake and beyond. A turkey vulture soared above and seemed to be hovering above us like it was expecting a bite of my peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

“No way, Bud,” I said looking up at his graceful glide on the thermal.

After some photo ops, we started the descent down Boarstone Mountain.

Earlier that morning we left our campsite at Lily Bay State Park and drove to Monson for the morning hike. Diane had climbed the mountain 20 years earlier with a girlfriend and remembered it as an easy, low-challenge hike. (That’s why I elected to wear sneakers instead of hiking boots.)

It is about a 2-mile trek from the parking lot to the summit. The first mile is along a smooth gravel road that is uphill but not too strenuous. That road takes you to Sunrise Pond. From there the trail, which is well-marked with green arrows, turns typical Maine mountain terrain.

Be warned, though, Diane’s protestations notwithstanding, the last half-mile is formidable with a steep ascent against a serpentine trail of tangled rocks and gnarled roots. My recollection is that my one ascent of Mt. Katahdin 10 years ago was not anymore difficult than Boarstone Mountain.

If you are a hiker and looking for a mountain to climb for a bird’s eye view of fall foliage, you might want to give Boarstone a shot. Here are diections to the trailhead:

From Willimantic, Maine, follow Mountain Road (aka Elliottsville Road) north, bear right at the intersection of Elliottsville Road and Mountain Road, cross the train tracks (after about 5.5 miles from Willimantic) and the parking lot is about 0.2 miles after the tracks on the left.

Let me know how you made out. (If you find the climb to be a “cakewalk,” please do me a favor: Don’t tell Diane.)

The author is editor of the “Northwoods Sporting Journal.” He is also a Maine guide and host of a weekly radio program — “Maine Outdoors” — heard Sundays at 7 p.m. on “The Voice of Maine News – Talk Network.” He has authored three books; online purchase information is available at www.maineoutdoorpublications.com.

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