Length: Approximately 1.8 miles one-way from the Rt.117 trail head to the summit.
Time: 2-3 hours round-trip.
Rating: 3.4781 arbitrary thingies out of 5 other arbitrary thingies
I really enjoy hiking. And I’ve been thinking lately about how weird it is. I mean, how do you explain it easily to someone that doesn’t hike?
“So what’s it like?”
Oh, well, you walk up the mountain. And then you walk back down the mountain. There’s trees and rocks and nature and shit.
And what if I’m not doing a summit hike? What if it’s just a hike through the woods?
“So what’s it like?”
Well, you walk into the woods. And then you walk in circles for a couple hours. Aaaaand then you’re done. Oh, and there’s trees and rocks and nature and shit.
It certainly doesn’t sound appealing. Especially if you’re not into nature. Or sweating. Or dirt.
I spent a lot of time outdoors as a kid, so maybe that’s why I like hiking? My brother tries to get his kids out on trails too, so I guess he got whatever weird “Go walk in the woods” message our family was laying down, too.
(I’ve decided I need books about hikes in New Hampshire and Maine so I can start checking stuff off. Someone write that down and remind me about it later.)
After some Googling the last couple of weeks, I decided to venture up Sawyer Mountain in Maine Sunday morning. David begrudgingly decided to join me. He’s not as stoked about walking up giant hills and walking back down them as I am, but he likes to take photos and didn’t want his clumsy and pregnant wife to traverse a mountain alone, so he woke up and put his shoes on anyway. I kept insisting he didn’t have to come if he didn’t want to and that there would be plenty of people out on a day like today to help me up if I fall. He apparently did not trust the invisible strangers with my safety, so off we went!
After a little more than an hour drive, and stopping to get coffee for the sleepy bear, we made it to the Sawyer Mountain trail head on Rt 117. As I expected, there were a ton of people there, ready for a beautiful morning hike.
And by a ton of people, I mean this trail head could fit like seven cars max and there wasn’t a soul in sight. Party at Sawyer Mountain!!
I grabbed a map with info on it, and read that for the summit we needed to head to the right and follow the yellow turtles. So off we went, guided by wee yellow turtles on trees. True story: I never thought about how turtles have tails until I saw this sign all day.
Hiking with a professional photographer means you end up stopping regularly for photo ops. The stops don’t really bother me since I’m there to enjoy the scenery and I get to check out the fun pictures later. And now that I’m pregnant, but still the kind of person that likes to think I’m a warrior and can do anything and nothing can stop me and there are no limits and I will push through it and I am woman hear me roar, the forced stops are a welcome respite. It should be noted that it’s a respite for me, not for the baby. She doesn’t need respite. She’s a parasite, siphoning all of my good oxygen, blood, and nutrients. She’s living in the lap of luxury up in there and leaving me with all the leftover shit she doesn’t want. Andplusalso, she sleeps in. So we were up the mountain, down the mountain, and almost all the way home before sleeping beauty decided to start her Sunday dance party.
While David is busy taking precise pictures of nature, I’m over here taking pictures of him taking pictures because he looks silly. And then he said “Don’t take pictures of me bending over, that’s weird.” So I did it again and now I’m sharing it with you. It made me laugh before he told me it was weird. Now it extra makes me laugh.
Early on, David stopped me to point out shiny quartz, because our last hike was with my brother and his kids, who like rocks and had a million questions I couldn’t answer about types of rocks. I guess David has now decided to educate me on rocks while we hike, so I can be prepared for next time. It’s not my fault. My Earth Sciences teacher was brilliant but she was an awful teacher. Also, weather and rocks are dumb and boring. Nerd. So now I have a picture of the first quartz we spotted on the trail, in honor of my nephews.
I said we should pick it up and save it to turn it into a new kitchen counter. David said I would need more quartz. I felt confident in my ability to find more and for us to carry a kitchen’s worth of quartz down the mountain. He has no faith in me though so I gave up.
We eventually stumbled onto Turtle Cemetery. There are small crosses and one gravestone that reads “Those who resort to extortion to gain control end up here to rest their soul.”
So that’s pretty weird and creepy. The signs along the path indicating where the trail property meets the neighboring landowners’ property were kind of stern, so if I were a betting woman I would say they were somehow related. However, I am choosing not to look it up online. Instead, I am choosing to tell myself it’s actually a cemetery for turtles. Maybe turtles that were in some kind of turtle mafia. Or maybe turtles that messed with the turtle mafia and learned the hard way not to mess with the turtle mafia. Or MAYBE they’re some relatives of the Ninja Turtles. Second cousins that weren’t as successful at ninja-ing or whatever. I feel like there a lot of completely viable options here. Most of which indicate actual turtles…
As we ascended, the trail got much rockier and much steeper. We followed a dried up stream for quite some time. Every time we got to the top of a rocky section we thought we were done with the rocks. We were mistaken. Oh, how we were mistaken.
There were plenty of opportunities for me to trip and fall and I’m proud to say that I didn’t trip or fall once.
Also, you can see the crowds of people on the trail that would’ve been there to help me if I fell.
“Smile pretty for the camera, honey!”
Shortly before the summit I made a new friend. His name is Norbert. He’s pretty cute and he posed real nice for me but he wasn’t having it with David and his camera. Norbert and I connected. David and Norbert did not.
With the regular signage along the way telling us how far away from the summit we were, I felt like I was consistently making progress. We attempted to hike Mount Monadnock sometime last year and there was no signage. Just a lot of people wondering when the hell we would get to the summit. Or anywhere near it. It would be nice if the Sawyer Mountain folks could go hook the Mount Monadnock folks up with some trail/summit distance signs…
As always, it was nice to finally reach the summit. We took the time to get some pictures in including some celebratory selfies. We also took the time to relax and enjoy the obstructed view and a break, while I used my puffy, sausage-finger hands to enjoy half a KIND bar. For anyone that hasn’t hiked a mountain, it’s hard to explain how great it feels to reach the summit.
As the poet laureate of our times, Miley Cyrus, one said: ain’t about how fast I get there / ain’t about what’s waitin’ on the other side / it’s the cliiiiiiimb and also the suuuummittttt
Knowing you pushed through the tough parts, kept hiking, and made it to the summit is an awesome feeling. Today, I stopped at least a dozen times to catch my breath, reconfigure my toes on rocks, or pause after a particularly steep hill. And I kept going because it felt good. And at the summit I felt like a weight was lifted off my shoulders. I’ve been having a tough time mentally the last couple of days and reaching the summit was exactly what my soul needed. I felt so much lighter on the descent.
I mean, I wasn’t actually lighter though. And I was front heavy. I was quite wonky and wobbly. But I repeat, I did not trip or fall. I am the winner, here. I stayed upright. The invisible strangers I expected to help me were not forced to make themselves un-invisible to pick me up off the rocks. Please to be presenting me with my gold star and my cookie.
It took us about 1.5 hours to get to the top and about 40 minutes to get down. Not too shabby for a hike just over 3 miles. We saw literally zero other humans so it was a great hike for anyone that hates crowds. Throughout the hike we took photos, we laughed a little, we talked about politics, turtle cemetery, and our family. I had time with my technophile husband away from screens, with both of us present in the world together. I’m pretty sure he hates when I ask him to be more present so he’ll probably hate that I said I was glad we were both present in the moment. Let me say present one more time just to hit it home.
We also argued about money for the last 15 minutes of the hike, which I do not recommend for those of you trying to fully enjoy the experience. Pro tip.