Blisters dice game


by John V. Bellantoni, your cybah-spaced mountain correspondent

1995-1996 Bemis Mountain, Maine

Bemis MountainShowing up at Tim's place on December 26, JB is in agreement with Tim that this years destination should be Maine....again. But they can't quite figure out where to go. "Dang, we've been just about everywhere," JB says half-truthfully. Short of spending days driving to Mt. Katahdin, or climbing a mountain range loaded with ski areas, there doesn't seem to be many high peaks left. Finally they settle on Bemis Mountain, a non-discript looking 3138 foot peak along the Appalachian Trail somewhere between Nowhere and N. Nowhere, Maine. Straddled by Wellekennebacook Lake and Mooselookmeguntic Lake, buried deep between these two valley access points, the chief feature of Bemis Mountain is it's remoteness.

Several days later the trio of Mark, Tim and JB blast up to Maine in Tim's white trash mobile. Fife is at home in Seattle this year, his absence attributable to work induced stress. Standing where the Appalachian Trail crosses Rt. 17 south of Oquossoc, Tim makes the call to go down the trail into the wilderness below. Stepping outside the car, the trip is on, with howling ice winds and a nasty steep down hill under fully loaded packs. This time JB's usual complaining centers around undertaking such a ridiculous decent when an easy trail into the same area was passed by about a mile back. After various mishaps attributable to the declination, including JB losing the trail and Tim having to borrow Mark's Sven saw cut his way out of a logjam, the trio Bigtops way low in a northern valley shadowed by Bemis Mountain.

Two attempts in two days are made to climb the mountain. On the first day the group goes totally off trail and are forced to retire, while on the second day the wrong turn is avoided and the tree covered peak is attained. Both days involve perilous stream crossings.

Day 4 finds the guys hiking the Bemis Stream Trail. There is plenty of moose evidence all around as well as an endless web of skimobile trails criss crossing the whole valley. The trail is quite easy to hike, giving rise to the future possibility that an attempt on Elephant Mountain, located behind Bemis, may be possible by taking this route up to the AT halfway between the two mountains. After the usual white trash night in the great sub zero white north the trio slowly trek out to the car the next afternoon on the easy graded logging road that JB wanted to use back at Day 1.

For the 3rd year in a row, here was a most spectacular winter survival and hiking trip. Winter was on in full force, with lots of snow. And with Fife's legendary snoring absent, everyone was able to enjoy sleeping deep in the Maine woods.

Copyright 1999 John Bellantoni and HAE