How to find your phone when it's lost on a mountain in Maine and what happens when your dog decides to forage for mushrooms.
I should have known when Romy ate through my friend's climbing rope on our drive to the mountain, that it was going to be one of those crazy days.
Some hikes go off without a hitch...perfect timing and magical, sunlit summits. Others are littered with challenges, often small, sometimes big. In the spirit of optimism, I like to call these challenges "surprises" and my hikes generally include some assortment of them. Maybe this is due to the fact that I'm still a novice. Maybe it's just the nature of hikes. Regardless, the challenging days make the easy days more rewarding. And new challenges lead to new skills. Still, it's all very unpredictable. When I told my husband that we would be home from our hike around 4:00pm, his response was, "Ok, see you around 8:00!"
This ain't his first time at the rodeo.
I will share lessons learned from this wild adventure, but first, let's talk about this incredible mountain.
Baldpate via Appalachian Trail is about 7.6 miles out and back with an elevation gain of 2,972 feet. Side note, mileage seems to differ, depending on your source. To make things more confusing, this hike includes two summits, so mileage on this hike can range from 5.8 to 8.3 miles depending on your route and where you get your information.
We hiked to the first summit only and it took about 5 hours round trip. I was with my two friends, Shannon and Sarah, plus our three dogs, two of which are still technically puppies. Even with the puppy shenanigans, these friends are solid hikers and they move right along.
I kept up, but was definitely the heavy breather bringing up the rear.
Parking for this trail is in Grafton Notch State Park near Old Speck, off of Route 26. Once you've parked, cross the street and you will see the trailhead for Baldpate off to the left. You will be following the white blazed Appalachian Trail. As you start out, you will soon see a sign for the Table Rock trailhead on your right. This is a great, quick hike if you're looking for something with your kids. It is also a loop you can add on to your hike up Baldpate if you have the time. Table Rock is an overlook with great views of Old Speck and Grafton Notch. It's a fun climb for kids because there is some easy bouldering and it's relatively short at 2.4 miles round trip. Visit this hike with kids, add it to your Baldpate climb, or skip it altogether. Here are the links for both hikes to guide your decision:
Even with a blanket of fallen leaves, the trail is pretty well marked. It was, however, wet almost the entire way up. Great for hydrating dogs, not so great for two legged hikers. There is also a steep ladder and some rock scrambling above tree line.
The two summits on the hike are West Peak and East Peak. After some slippery rock ledge near the top of West Peak, which was pretty stressful with our young pups, we decided to call it and head back down the mountain. East Peak is one mile further, so if you have the chance and are dog free, go for it! I believe the view from West Peak would have been pretty spectacular, but it was foggy the day we hiked, so we only had glimpses between clouds. Before the steep climb to the summit, there is a fun section of open field followed by flat rock. From there, head through the woods, then straight up rock ledge to the top.
The top where I left my cell phone, but didn't realize it until stopping to photograph some mushrooms about a mile and a half down the mountain...
My friends graciously offered to summit the mountain again in search of my phone, but Romy was already taking breaks to sit and I didn't want to push it (been there, done that). Plus, we all needed to get back and I didn't want to hold everyone up. Not to mention the fact that I was trying to keep my word with Tim and get home by 4:00pm.
Still, this was a big ticket item to replace. I now had miles of Sterling climbing rope to replace, in addition to a new phone. All from an activity that was supposed to be free??
I was able to call Tim from Sarah's phone and he mentioned a phone tracker I could access from the icloud. I logged in at icloud.com and sure enough, he was right! When I selected the "find my iphone" option, GPS showed my phone surrounded by a bunch of green, somewhere near Old Speck. No help whatsoever.
The good news, we discovered that I could set an alert on the phone which read the following message if picked up, "This iPhone has been lost, please call (Tim's number)". When women put their heads together, they can figure anything out.
I now had hope and we carried on. I was upset about the phone, but my gut kept telling me it would all work out. And it did. The phone part anyway. The dog on mushrooms, that didn't work out so well.
As with all forests this year, mushrooms abound on this hike. I'd watched Romy leave the trail at various points in our hike to explore. During these detours, I definitely witnessed her stopping to chew on things. Through deductive reasoning, I'm now pretty convinced she was chewing on those colorful, delicious, magical mushrooms. Here's why...
Romy has never, ever been an aggressive dog, but during our ride home, she was showing teeth and snapping at Thor. Concerning, yes, but maybe she was just exhausted and done playing? Nope.
Things continued to get worse. Diarrhea all night long (luckily she made it outdoors every time) and lethargy and just acting plain weird. We went for our normal morning walk in Baxter Woods the next day and that is where things got scary. She became aggressive with another dog and I had to pull her off of him. SO out of character for the dog who usually rolls on her back for belly rubs from anyone who's willing.
Luckily the other dog was unharmed, but I'm sure the owner was a bit traumatized. As was I.
Romy slept most of the day after the hike and her eyes looked drugged. The boys kept checking on her and reporting back "Mom, Romy's still tripping balls!" Apparently, they agreed with my hypothesis. Or they just thought it was funny. My boys can find humor in all things, which is why I love being around them.
Today, Romy is doing much better and we avoided an emergency visit to the vet. She came through ok, but I share this story in case your dog starts acting funny after a romp in the woods. From what I've read, the outcome of mushroom ingestion can be far more serious. I will certainly keep better watch on Romy from now on.
I'll wrap things up with the outcome of my lost phone. Tim's phone had a voice message on it the morning after our hike. The caller sounded like a twenty something hiker and it said, "Hey, I found your phone on West Peak. Yeah, it's here. Hope you find it!"
What the what???
Clearly, this kind young hiker's frontal lobe had not yet been fully developed. I'm sure he was trying to do the right thing, but it wasn't the message I'd been hoping to hear.
Then I realized there was still a chance that another hiker would discover my phone, call me from theirs so I'd have their number and actually carry the phone off the mountain with them. Which is exactly what happened about an hour later. This generous man even offered to hand deliver my phone on his way back through Portland Monday afternoon!
I'm just getting home now from the exchange...and he made sure it was fully charged before handing it off. I did my best not to give this man a giant hug. Hikers are truly good humans.
In the end, Romy is ok and all is well. We also start dog training on Tuesday, so I will be asking all kinds of questions about mushroom consumption.
I plan to return to this mountain on a sunny day to enjoy the clear view in all its glory. Hope you can enjoy it too, with or without dogs and cell phones.