Saturday, December 13, 2008

Camden Hills

I was hoping to hang up the running shoes last Saturday so the lack of skiable snow has me frustrated and cranky. But this morning brought new meaning and beauty to my life. As mentioned in my last post, we fled Falmouth for heat, power, and internet, so this morning I ran a visually stunning 11 mile loop in the Camden Hills. I started on the "multi-use" trail that cuts through the park - From Youngtown Rd.,  it's a nice, long, not-too-steep ascent for just over a mile. The trail itself is an old roadbed that I think was cut by the AMC back in the 30s. It is in beautiful condition; maybe the park just graded it and laid sand on it before winter. I then took the Cameron Mtn. trail, which was like every other trail other than the multi-use trail - running creek and/or endless puddle. Nothing was frozen solid despite the T (about 19-20 deg) so my running form was kind of like that of the football players that run through the trail of tires.

I had not been to Cameron mountain - its not much of a mountain but is a beautiful blueberry barren hill. Not a tree in site. The entire mountain was covered in flaming red, lowbush blueberry (about 6 inches high) that was stunning against the bluebird sky. It looked like the fields of heather from Rannoch Moor in the Scottish highlands. Not surprising given that Blueberry and heather are both in the plant family ericaceae. Also not surprising giving that both this field and the Scottish highlands are artificially treeless (check out the satellite map of Cameron mountain to see the big square of trees that has been removed), although I suspect trees have been gone from Scotland far longer than Cameron Mountain. Anyway, running up the path made me feel like what I think I would have felt if I had run in Scotland. It was an adrenaline rush. Throw on some blue paint and a skirt and I would have smited (smote?) any Englishman in the area.

Following Cameron mountain, my dopamine high quickly cleared as I now had to climb Mount Megunticook on Zeke's then Ridge trail. Water on the Ridge trail was frozen - generally as sheet ice on open rock. I'm not sure screw shoes would have helped. The Ridge trail has grand views across Megunticook lake toward Ragged Mountain and the surrounding hills. The peak is buried in the trees but the trail eventually runs along a cliff edge (the lookout) with an epic view over Camden harbor and Penobscot bay (you get this view if you watch the really poor movie version of Peyton Place - skip it and read the book, it's really quite good). From the lookout, it's a very quick down to the multi-use trail.

Ahh, back to dry, confident footing. On this side of the hill, the Multi-use trail was high enough and the drop-off was steep enough to give a panoramic view of Penobscot Bay and Acadia on the other side. The trail undulates for about 3.5 miles, passing a number of trails coming down from Megunticook and other trails going who-knows-where. In the middle of the park, the trail passes the ski lodge that was built in the 30s. I had friends who rented it last New Years Eve. They skied in and settled down for a cozy night. Until about 2AM when a band of local snowmobilers came through to use it as a party hut (I'm not sure what the lesson is there...I'd really like to rent it and hang out there New Years Eve). Finally, with just over a mile left, the trail begins its long descent. It was much more fun last time I was on this trail, because I was on skis and didn't have to do any work. Still, the gradual downhill was welcome.


  1. I thought the same thing (although somewhat less scientifically) when I ran up Cameron Mt for the first time. Most of the hills that I ran in Scotland were bigger and steeper, but looked just the same.

  2. For some reason, D and I have never been out to Cameron Mountain. Sounds like we need to add it to the list. There is definitely some great trails in the park. We're partial to the Sky Blue Trail.

  3. The trail to Cameron was nothing special - an old logging road I think complete with ruts. But I love the open beauty of blueberry barrens and Cameron Mtn. was this perfect dome covered with flaming bluebery. The Nature Conservancy has recently purchased the mountain too, so I think it will officially become part of the park soon, if not already.