Labor Day Hike: The 12th Mountain on a Gloomy Day – September 6, 2022

Last weekend was the traditional “End of Summer” here in the US- Labor Day Weekend. I did not have anything planned in the way of travel or outings, as the weather wasn’t looking too good and my usual hiking partner had other interests to pursue.

So, on Friday afternoon I took the 5 mile walk around Echo Lake, figuring that would have to suffice for the weekend. It’s a good walk and a good distance. And I felt good after completing it.

Saturday was occupied by gardening, landscaping and other work around the house. On Sunday it rained all afternoon, fairly heavily at times. Not for the first time I met the challenge of operating the outdoor grill while it was raining. I got wet, but the food did not- mission accomplished.

The rain tapered off coming into Monday morning, and initially it was dry even though very overcast. The clouds were quite low over the pond. Despite this, I was getting the urge to get out and move about. I seem to be at the point now where I don’t feel quite right if I don’t walk a trail every week or so. Not wanting to travel very far, I cast about for something close by, and settled on Bluff Mountain.

Bluff Mountain looms above Island Pond and the adjacent village of the same name. It’s about 10 miles away from where I live. There is a trail to the summit named, unsurprisingly, Bluff Mountain Trail, and I traveled it with youngest Son back in 2018. You can take the Bluff Mountain Trail all the way to the summit, or turn left at Lookout Junction for a more challenging route to the top. 

When I entered the trail around 11AM, it was still very cloudy, but no rain yet. As the hike continued, from time to time there would be some fine drizzle, most of which never reached me through the trees. The ground was damp- very wet in some places- but completely passable. It was in better shape than I expected. I met a small party coming off the trail as I started up the hill. They had a friendly black dog.

When I reached Lookout Junction, I turned left onto Lookout Trail. This trail is blazed in yellow, and not long after I started down the path I remembered the previous time on this trail. It goes downhill for a spell, giving up a lot of the elevation gained in the initial climb up Bluff Mountain Trail. So, be warned- that elevation must be regained, and the Lookout Trail recaptures it in a very direct fashion. The last half mile to the top is pretty much straight up. You pull yourself through that climb using boulders, trees and iron rungs sunk deep into the rock.

Once you reach the top of the rock wall, there is a view of Island Pond and the village. It’s very pretty on a bright and sunny day. Today, pretty gray.

Not too far further along is the actual summit of the hill, complete with a brass survey marker. The overlook and the marker are the only views of interest at the top. 

The trail down was much less challenging that up, and it seemed to be a wetter route. There were strange fungi here and there, and at one point I had to traverse a fairly long trail bridge through a bog in the hollow, and later climb a well-built staircase to mount a ridge.

The rain picked up a bit after I passed Lookout Junction on the way down, but soon enough I was back at the trailhead, damp, but no worse for wear. This was the twelfth mountain of the 2022 season completed, and there’s still at least two months to go until the snow flies. Hopefully there’s time for more!

The loop I walked was a total of 3.6 miles, with the elevation gain at just under 1500 feet. It took me just over two hours to complete, and it was fun, rain and all. 

Thanks for dropping by!

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