Tucker Mountain / by Greg Westrich

Saturday night--out shopping for a Father/Daughter Dance dress for Emma--Ann had a flat tire. Sunday morning I took the car in to get it fixed. The plan was that I would get new tires and head down to the coast for a hike. Four hours and $900 dollars later, I gave up and came home. I felt misplaced the rest of the afternoon. All twitchy like I'd down a whole two liter bottle of Mountain Dew.

So, this morning I dropped the kids off at school and lit out. Down to Sullivan to explore a couple of the Frenchman's Bay Land Trust's preserves I'd yet to visit.

I hiked up Tucker Mountain. It's a small, inconspicuous pile of granite along Long Cove. The trail switchbacks up the slope through leaning cedars, emerald moss, and balsam firs. Here and there a white pine towered over everything else.

At ground level the only colors were the grays and faded browns of tree trunks and dead things. The laurel leaves, curled up for winter like little umbrellas, hinted red. They were a deeper, bloodier color than the cedar trunks. Only the patches of thick, verdant moss looked alive.

Even though I could hear the cars whizzing by on Route 1, I felt the solitude of late winter. This time of the years--with no snow to speak of--the trail can be hard to follow. The entire forest floor is equally beaten down. Every seam through the trees looks as much like a trail as any other. I hiked more by feel and the logic of the climb than by certain knowledge that I was on the trail. Did it really matter if I missed the trail by ten feet? In the end I stood on the summit, marked by a small cairn and a USGS plate. The view was mostly blocked by perfect conical firs like over-sized Christmas trees.

Below the summit, the trail had crossed an open ledge with a fine view of Mount Desert Island across the water and convoluted coast. The mountains in Acadia were nothing more than hazy hints on the horizon. The air was as dense as during the dog days of late summer. Even if the firs had leaned out of the way for me, there wouldn't have been much too see from the summit. Just the boot-sucking mud of Long Cove at low tide with sinuous creeks draining out into the blue bay.