Posted by Jane N on

Hello Everyone,

I thought I would share an adventure I had recently hiking the trails on Mt Agamenticus in Maine.

Chris had a client in Maine on a Tuesday and decided to take off the Monday and spend the time at her camper on the ocean in Cape Neddick and she invited me to stay with her. It was good timing because it was an awful heat wave and the ocean offered cooling breezes and fun in the surf. We enjoyed Monday just sitting in our sand chairs with our feet in the ocean cool as cucumbers. When Chris needed to go to work Tuesday I thought I would explore the trails on the mountain to search for new birds. The mountain was a short drive from the camper, Chris expected to back from work around three so I had plenty of time to explore.

Mt Agamenticus is famous as a hawk-watching site. During their migration thousand of hawks can be seen passing by. There is a mountain access road to the summit and a nice lodge and great views. I took one of the trail maps and planned out my route. I was trying to be conservative in my expectations and ability, I was alone and it was hot and humid. I decided the 2 mile Turtle Trail that made a ring around the summit sounded doable. I needed to take a shorter access trail from the summit to connect with the Turtle Trail and decided to take the shortest straight line trail to connect.

I got my binoculars, my bird bag, water bottle and molasses cookies, I set off on the straight line Sweet Fern trail from the summit. Just as I enter the tree line the trail drops suddenly along sheer smooth rocks. I pass the remains of some sort of tower all rusty as the trail gets steeper and slipperier. I consider turning around but when I look back the climb is steep and I figure I've committed to going down so I proceed. My heart is pounding, I'm sweating profusely, suddenly I slip and fall onto my butt and begin to slide down the rock face. I tell ya that was one heck of a ride down the rest of the trail on my butt.

As I catch my breath I yell at mymyselfI know better than that, I know how to read a map. Do you see my mistake? Umm did I mention Mt Agamenticus used to be a ski area? A straight line on a map from the summit of a mountain down is just that STRAIGHT DOWN! The trail followed the ski lift, the rusty towers were what was left of the ski lift minus the chairs. Well that got the adrenalin going! I push onward along the trail into the cooler dense pine forest.

I was glad to be off the bare summit and out of the blaring sun but the forest cover didn't offer much relief, it was so humid I felt like I was breathing cotton candy the air was so thick. I was hearing birds but nothing new, got a good look at a nice Black-throated Green Warbler. I could hear a thrush singing in the trees but couldn't sight him. I needed to pee, which kinda surprised me since I was sweating so heavy I didn't think I had any moisture left in me. No was else was on the trail, I decided to go down the embankment into the spruce trees to be under cover as I relieved myself. Hey any port in a storm will do.

The pine needles and leaf litter was slick and don't ya know I fall onto my butt yet again and slide down the embankment. Just that kinda day I guess. After my pit stop I, was left with the quandary of what to do with the used tissue. I often carry a small plastic baggie for such occasions but Chris didn't have any at the camper so what to do. Umm I know I'll just lift this loose rock sticking up and put it under there, I don't want to leave it out in the open where any one could see it. As I lift the rock to dispose of my spent tissue something small and black slithers quickly away. Yikes SNAKE!!! Believe me I, made it back up the embankment faster than I did down. (well maybe it wasn't a snake, not really the right habitat, it was more likely a large salamander but at 1st glance my mind yelled SNAKE)

Ok then I'm back on the trail and continue on. There is that thrush singing again. I search the tree tops and finally get a brief glance at him as he flies away. I quickly leaf through my bird book trying to identify which thrush he might be. I narrow the possibilities down to either a Swainson's Thrush or the Bicknell's Thrush, I mark the pages of the bird book and push onward. I've been hiking for a a bit more than an hour and I come to the intersection with a trail back up to the summit. This time I choose the trail with lots of squiggly lines, which I know means there are a lot of switch-backs to the top making the climb easier.

I break out of the tree line and back onto the bare summit and the heat hits like a blast furnace in the face. Darn it's hot out today! I find some shade and sit on a rock out-cropping for a rest. I'm sweating heavy, my heart is pounding and I feel a little shaky. I sit and have a swig of water and a molasses cookie and turn on my Nook to try and identify that thrush. I watch as Turkey Vultures make slow circles riding the thermals overhead. Umm gee Sissy do you think their eying me?

The more I look over my bird guides the more confused I become, is it a Swainson's or Bicknells's Thrush? The Bicknell's would be a new bird for me, they are rather rare, they only live in Maine and Nova Scotia. I need to get another look to be sure, my molasses cookie break has bolstered my strength so I decide to head back down the trail to the intersection where I saw the bird. I look down to tie my loose shoe lace and pick a tick off my ankle, it's time to move out of here.

I never did find the thrush again so I have to list it as a BVD ( in birders lingo that means Better View Desired). I had an adventurous day and when I shared my day with Chris when she got back from work she was not happy with me. She made me promise not to go off by myself and do something like that again. Yeah maybe she is right, but I'd do it again if anyone would like to join me!

Happy Birding, Jane

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