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Runtrails' 2005 AT Journal
 
 
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PHOTOS 24: CLOUD PATTERNS, PART 3:  MAINE 
 
FEBRUARY 24, 2006
 
 
"In the presence of eternity, the mountains are as transient as the clouds."
- Robert Green Ingersoll
 
 


Dramatic clouds above Saddleback Junior Mountain.

Maine also had several days with bright blue skies and fluffy cloud patterns that rivaled the drama of the White Mountains in New Hampshire (Photos 23).  In this essay I'll feature scenes from six beautiful autumn days in Maine along the Appalachian Trail.

Included are some of the very few sunrise and sunset photos we took on the adventure run. Most days we were either at a campground or in transit at dawn and dusk, not on the Trail, so I missed a lot of opportunities for great photos at those times. That's one advantage backpackers have: they can camp along lakes and on ridges that afford marvelous views of colorful clouds during sunrises and sunsets.

I'll take you south to north again, starting pretty close to the New Hampshire-Maine state line and ending at Mt. Katahdin in Baxter State Park. Let's go!

THE MAGICAL MAHOOSUCS

I encountered the Mahoosuc Mountain Range - and the infamous Mahoosuc Notch - my first day in Maine. It was one of my three longest days on the entire Trail, ending an hour or two after dark. I didn't have time to take as many pictures as I would have liked. I was focused on RFM (relentless forward motion).

The sky and clouds were the most dramatic around noon, when I ran and hiked over Mt. Carlo and the various peaks of Goose Eye Mountain, as shown in the three photos below from Day 127:

 

 

STUNNING SADDLEBACK

Some of the most dramatic white-cloud action during my trek was on Day 133 in the Saddleback Mountain Range between Maine Hwy. 4 and Oberton Stream.

There are four peaks, including Saddleback Mountain, The Horn, Saddleback Junior, and Poplar Ridge. Although none of the summits is higher than 4,120 feet in elevation, enough of the Trail is above tree line to be really interesting.

When I started this run there weren't very many clouds in the sky. As I climbed about 2,500 feet up the first mountain I became aware of low clouds approaching from the southwest, over the lakes I'd just passed:

Now watch what happens on top the ridges as the clouds dance among the peaks:

 

 

 

The clouds almost enveloped me on top of The Horn . . .

. . . but blew on by as I made my way down The Horn and up to the next peak, Saddleback Junior, shown in the photo below and at the top of this page:

THE BARREN-CHAIRBACK RANGE

There were no more "puffy white cloud days" again until Day 143. I have some dramatic valley and storm clouds to show you in another essay from the intervening days, however.

Even though there were expansive vistas from the other mountains in the Barren-Chairback Mountain Range, Third Mountain was the only place on Day 143 where I saw interesting clouds:

KATAHDIN'S GRANDEUR

We lucked out with four clear-weather days as we approached Mt. Katahdin, the end of our long journey. Interesting clouds gave us some nice shots for our memory albums.

Jim and I were so mesmerized by the sight of Mt. Katahdin that we took numerous photos of it from two camp sites where we stayed the last few nights. Both had outstanding views of the mountain. We also enjoyed watching the sky change from early morning to evening at these vantage sites.

The first campground was at the south end of Upper Jo-Mary Lake. When Jim parked the camper there on Day 144 it was overcast and we couldn't see the far side of the lake. It was cloudy when we woke up on Day 145 but as the clouds blew over, they revealed this distant view of Katahdin:

We had no idea we'd be able to see Katahdin from there and we were thrilled to be that close after so long a journey!

Jim and I both took several photos of the mountain, lake, and clouds that day and the next. We're not sure whose photos are whose:

 

 

Day 147 was our last red-letter day on the Trail for great blue sky/white clouds photos. And what a day it was! The morning was foggy so I wasn't expecting the awesome views I got in the afternoon as I approached our last campsite at Abol Bridge.

My first view of Mt. Katahdin that day was from Rainbow Ledges. It was partially obscured by the tall pines and white clouds, but still a thrill to see the mountain that close:

As with the campground on Jo-Mary Lake, we initially saw the campground at Abol Bridge in overcast weather on a rest day (Day 142) when we drove up there to check it out.

We had no idea until Jim moved the camper there while I was running on Day 147 what a fantastic location it was. Jim discovered that we were virtually in the shadow of Mt. Katahdin before I arrived off the Trail and he knew I'd be excited.

Indeed I was! I came out of the woods, ran a bit on the highway over the Penobscot River, and beheld this gorgeous sight from the Abol Bridge:

 

Katahdin!!! I was excited to be so close that I could see some of the trails going up the mountain! The campground is on the right, and I spotted our white camper right away (unfortunately, the green sea plane isn't ours).

Do clouds come any prettier than those??

Jim and I took a bunch of photos that afternoon. There we were, camped right next to the wide Penobscot River, with views not only of Katahdin to the right but also gorgeous reflections of the trees and clouds in the water only a few feet away:

As the sun began to set, we interrupted our chores to take more photos as the clouds and mountain began to turn various shades of pink:

 

Although we don't remember exactly which of us took which sunset photo above, I do know Jim took this great silhouette of a man fishing in the river at dusk, about a hundred feet from our camper:

It was the perfect end to a perfect day.

The weather was also clear the next day when we summitted Mt. Katahdin and our journey drew to a close. I took very few photos on the way up because my camera battery was low (what a day to forget to change the batteries!). The one cloud photo I took isn't that great. We mostly used Jim's camera on top when he arrived, but by then the clouds had dissipated.

Hence, no dramatic clouds the last day, just infinite blue sky. That's OK. It was so clear that Jim joked about seeing Springer Mountain in Georgia, the beginning of our adventure run four months earlier!

Next up: storm drama in the sky.

Sue
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil, Cody, and Tater

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2006 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil