Saturday, June 4, 2011

Is that a snake in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?

I missed the Pineland run this morning because I wanted to be sure Son #1 had everything he needed today for his double header: 1) State Outdoor T&F meet in Augusta (he ran 4X8 and 800) and 2) Camden-Rockport HS prom. Cacky and I watched the FHS 4X8 team sail to second place with a really great run and we had about 4 hours until the solo 8 so we headed out to Bond Brook Recreation Area, which I had heard alot about because they hired John Morton to design a Morton Trail for xc ski racing (Pineland, Libby Hill, and Twin Brook are also John Morton Trails).

The parking area is in the back of a cemetary next to the airport. Good luck finding it. The entrance trail drops about 100 feet in a very short distance and would be wicked fun in skis or snowboard or cafeteria tray. I started on the blue loop which was typical pineland then cut over to a red loop, which was cut but not cleared. The slash was difficult to run on and the trail went dead straight down what I'm guessing was a 30% grade. If this becomes a ski trail I cannot imagine going either up or down it. The cut of course dead ended at the bottom of the hill so I turned around to run (mostly walk) back up the slash and return to the blue trail. I then took another detour off the blue trail which was a very grown over road with a big washout much of the way down. The road just dropped straight down to Bond Brook. Near the bottom was the red marked trail and looking at the map I was not far from where I'd just been but it wasn't cut yet. Bond Brook is a beautiful, large creek but really none of the ski trail follows it so I turned around to again climb what I had just descended and returned to the blue trail. The blue trail continued to climb until I noticed I was on the other side of the water towers by the parking area, which was the high point in the system.

From the high point, the trail dropped through the "halfpipe" which I'd heard alot about because some college racers had some trouble with it this winter. No duhhh! The half pipe was indeed a natural ravine and the trail snaked its way up one wall and then the other and then back as it descended down. I have to give the Augusta Trails group some credit for having the balls to put this into their trail system. Anyway, because it was a little too much, they are spending some time this summer taming it, which is a little too bad because I know a dozen FHS skiers who would love to ski it as is.

In all, I got a 6 mile run in with 1150' total climb. Ian said there is a race here later in the summer. I predict some carnage on this course.

Cacky and I walked around a bit to enjoy the weather and a beautiful Eastern milk snake was sunning itself on the trail and quickly slithered into the grass cover. He was easy to catch but was a little feisty and snapped at the air for a minute. Milk snakes and rat/corn snakes are usually quite mild and gladly curl up around your arm but even after he stopped snapping he never really calmed down. Maybe it was my sweaty arm? Cacky got my phone and took a few photos.

We worked in the car for a while at Bond Brook (ok some of us surfed the web and fb on our phone) and then returned to the track meet to watch Sam in the solo 8 and then see him on his way to Camden. With more days like these, I'll stop looking for summer camps in New Foundland.


  1. Middle Professor,

    Thanks for the report. I work with John Morton, and, with Bill Rogers of the Augusta Nordic Club, we designed the new ski trails. From your track it looks like you were off and on the winter XC ski loop. The 35% downhill is probably off the official 5K ski trail (which is really 2, 2.5K loops).

    The half-pipe is a one-of-a-kind feature. Bill Rogers pointed us out to this. It is undergoing modifications and should be a blast for skiers and mountain bikers after it is all done.

    The cemetery entrance is simply a warning. Abandon hope all ye who enter here, especially if you are not ready for some serious, old-fashioned trails a la Bill Koch and John Caldwell. Kind of like the cemetery at the base of the jumping hill at the '76 Olympics in Innsbruck.

    Happy to send you a map of the official trail; the Bond Brook spur you found is off the main drag.

    Very much appreciate the blog and hope that the proximity of this resource to downtown Augusta will only get better and discovered by folks like yourself.

    David Lindahl
    Morton Trails

  2. Hi David - thank you for filling in some detail. I loved the system and look forward to skiing it this winter, probably with a subset of the HS team (I also heard BB will host an Eastern Cup so I'll encourage my some of my skiers to enter). I did see a map on the site and clearly there is much more trail there for me to explore.

  3. Jeff, sounds like a fun run, and cool photo of the snake too! Haven't seen one of those around, although we saw a lot of HUGE black rat snakes down south when we hiked the AT. Man, they might be docile but they were scary big!

  4. Yeh sparkplug! Black rat snakes get big and go from cute to kinda scary, I agree. Just adds to the adrenaline rush when you catch them.