A Different Perspective - Baldface

Submitted by Nancy

Mountains: South Baldface (3,570) and North Baldface (3,610)
Date: September 16, 2007
Time: 9 hours
Weather: Cool, sun and clouds, little wind
Miles: 10.4
Elevation Gain: 3,600
Steps: 33,188
Trails: Baldface Circle Trail, a loop around Baldface Mountain cirque
Amazement Factor: Unbelievably high

Picture Gallery

It's Monday morning and I am dragging jelly legs around my office and wishing I had a rest day after hiking Baldface Mountain yesterday. Re-entry into the world at sea-level is tough. Sitting at my desk, computer screen full of e-mails, my view of the world is jagged and harsh, cluttered, busy, stressful and linear. It is driven by the clock and calendar, my project "To Do" list, my responsibilities and the bottom line. I see hour to hour and miss the whole day, see typos and backed-up traffic and miss the serenity and meaning found in the bigger picture. I feel small, constricted and stuck. I reminisce about yesterday's hike, a difficult, nine-hour, 10-mile loop with over four miles above tree line. The memory is still close enough that I can beam myself up Star-Trek-style to the open granite ledges. I am above tree line, in the sun, arms outstretched, trying to let it all in. I'm safe in the enormity and beauty. I've regained myself...for the moment.


Taking my first steps at the Baldface Circle trailhead is the beginning of an unwinding process, moving gradually from one perspective to another, one step up at a time. I start at the bottom in the fray and frazzle of life. As I dedicate my body to the physical exercise of climbing the mountainside, my heart and leg muscles rise to the challenge and I start to feel more me. By the time we reach the first views, I'm centered in my heart. As I hike above tree line and look out at the expanse of New England at my feet, I am transported onto a different plane of living. Inspired by the colors and form of the earth below me, my view is immense, clear and peaceful, all encompassing and never-ending. I can see the big picture and am reminded of how incredibly beautiful and utterly remarkable life really is. There are choices, possibilities and opportunities that didn't exist earlier in the day. When you can see this far, how can your vision be anything but limitless? Soaking in the view, my body takes a spontaneous deep breath, as if I can't allow the expansiveness in without first expelling the stale air of small negative thinking. Here, above it all, I am free to shed the weight of daily chaos and details and just breathe in my surroundings without having to make a difference. And in that breath, I know that literally everything is possible.

I try to do a freeze-frame in my mind so I can take the moment home -- the expanse from my hiking boots all the way to the horizon, peaks and valleys going on forever, from green and gold, some darker purple where the clouds create shadow, colors fading into lighter and lighter blues until they melt into the sky. I am an insignificant witness. There's purpose and order out there, even though I don't understand it.

The hike has doses of difficult that tug me back to reality. The hike's elevation gain is 3,600 feet, only 200 feet less than a hike up Mt. Washington! The rock ledges are straight up, a 900 foot ascent in .6 miles. Dejah, my daughter's 2-year-old-yellow lab, gets scared she can't jump up to the next ledge and starts crying, which derails my concentrated effort to get myself up to the next rock ledge. Plus, I am getting a blister on each heel. Luckily, I am climbing with my friend, Pat, who encourages both Dejah and I up the open rock face and is my assistant as I bandage my feet. What more could I need?

As I climb higher, it feels like the beauty seeps inside me and takes residence in my heart. Eating my Lost Pilgrim sandwich wrap, sitting on a stone bench, looking up at the summit half a mile away and gazing out at the panorama, I become part of it. I am the beauty. I am the peace. I wish I could hold onto this euphoric feeling when I am sitting in front of my computer, in crisis mode, struggling with the little stuff that doesn't really matter. In that frustration, I want to be able to mentally helicopter back up above the details to where the vista is sweeping and I can see the beauty and feel the serenity.

We reach South Baldface at 1:10 pm and hike the ridge that connects the two peaks. It is a series of five humps, each one larger than the last. The colorful fall scrub, off-white reindeer moss, and red mountain cranberries add depth to the amazing scenery. I can't stop taking pictures.

On top of North Baldface summit, 2:12 pm, surrounded by cool crisp air, bright sunlight and sporadic clouds, my best friend and I are on top of the world, being hugged by the sky, supported by the earth, warmed by the sun, surrounded by the beauty. Simply incredible.

Walking the ridge back down the mountain, I expect to be quickly immersed in the trees as we descend. Baldface is different. We enter the trees and then minutes later we re-emerge on yet another open expanse of rock ledge that stands above the vastness. I breathe deep. Again and again the view re-emerges. It is as if I need to be reminded again and again that it is still there - that beautiful perspective above the fray, the peace and the possibilities, all STILL there. It doesn't matter where I am, or whether I can see it or not. This view is always there.

7 out of 52 With a View