I’m so spoiled.
I spent last weekend in an off-the-grid cabin 5 miles from pavement, in western Maine.
After arriving at the cabin and getting a fire started in the stove, I headed off to check out Devil’s Den.
This required about a 2.75 mile walk each way, and I had no idea what I was walking to, really; I hadn’t researched this destination beforehand and was going based off of a recommendation in the guest book inside the cabin.
So I was pretty astonished when I arrived:
After exploring this cavernous frozen waterfall, I walked back to my cabin, then out to the road to go to dinner and play a card game with friends who were staying in Newry.
I managed to keep the cabin between 55 and 60 degrees all night and woke early the next day to sit on the porch and listen to the silence and the birds.
I hiked back to the road with all my belongings and headed to Bethel, intending to go fat biking or cross-country skiing.
I knew from hiking around my cabin that the trails would be icy, but wow – it was an ice luge! I skied for about an hour and then called it quits, figuring I could find somewhere to hike.
And boy, did I!
I didn’t have great service, but I managed to get a couple of recommendations from Google, the first of which was Rumford Whitecap. It was nearby and seemed like it would be on a road maintained for winter travel, so off I went.
From the kiosk at the trailhead, I figured out that it was about a 5 mile loop, with 1,400 feet of elevation gain. Pretty moderate, which was a perfect fit; I have a mid-week trip planned and didn’t want to fry my legs.
It’s a nice, mellow, steady uphill walk through beautiful woods. The Mahoosuc Land Trust has done an incredible job with this trail; it’s got a little bit of everything.
The trail was very well broken for the first 1.5 miles or so.
For the final mile to the summit, though, there were sporadic, deep, iced-over postholes. And I do mean deep: I stepped in one just to see, and it swallowed my leg up to about an inch below my knee! I’m not sure why these started at the higher elevation, but be careful if you’re out there in the next few days.
As I approached the summit, I realized I’d stumbled onto an absolute gem of a hike. The views are phenomenal.
The summit itself was covered in glaze ice.
And the wind was howling, so I got moving pretty quickly, knowing it would take me about 10 minutes to get back down into the trees.
Apparently, Rumford Whitecap is a popular backcountry skiing destination. Of course, given the weekend’s conditions, I didn’t see any skiers.
In fact, I only saw one couple all day, possibly due to my late start time and the impending Superbowl festivities.
All in all, this was a perfect little hike and a great way to get some fresh mountain air and solitude.