Woods Walks

Bradbury Mtn. | 485 ft | ME

Switchback – Boundary Trail – Northern Loop

Bradbury Mtn. 485 ft

One of the skills I’ve been practicing during the pandemic is flexible thinking. I tend to lean heavily toward an obsessive need for things to go according to plan (my plan, specifically), so this has been a challenging practice. Pre-COVID, I frequently operated on an if/than frequency. If THIS doesn’t happen, THAN that can’t happen. If I don’t have time to run the six miles I planned to run first thing in the morning, I won’t run at all. If I don’t eat the healthy breakfast I planned to eat, I might as well eat crap all day. I didn’t apply this logic to anyone else in my life. Nope, this sort of self-sabotaging rationale was reserved especially for me, and it wreaked havoc on my mind, body, and general sense of calm. 

A tow truck

And then the pandemic. Talk about things not going according to plan. 

Flexible thinking is defined in a few ways, depending on what google result you click on. I think of it as the ability to accept change and uncertainty, switch gears when it happens, and find an alternative way to move forward. (For example, running three miles later in the day or eating a healthy lunch despite taste-testing a half-dozen Holy Donuts for breakfast). 

So, what does this have to do with hiking?

On my second attempt to summit Mt. Monroe, my car broke down in Fryeburg, about an hour west of Portland. It sucked. I was massively irritated. This was all before 8am. I called AAA and got the car (and me) towed back to a local garage. By the time I got home it was still only Noon, but too late to drive back to the White Mountains. 

Enter flexible thinking. 

I loaded Luna into the car and headed up to Bradbury Mountain State Park in Pownal, just outside Freeport. While the peak is only 485 feet, the summit offers sweeping views of Casco Bay and the park has over twenty miles of trails. The weather was fantastic (a far cry from a week ago) and Luna was thrilled to be taken along for the adventure. 

We paid the entrance fee ($3 for Maine residents) and parked in a nearly-full lot. I chose to take Luna up the Switchback because it seemed less busy. As you would expect, it’s very steep, but it’s only .3 miles. Dogs are required to be on leash in the park (major bummer and rule I often ignore in the Whites), and with so many people around, it did seem prudent. Bradbury Mountain is an awesome place to bring young kids; the hikes are easy and the payoff far exceeds the effort to see it. There are also plenty of places to picnic and camp (by reservation), so it’s an all-around great way to introduce little explorers to wilderness activities… all within thirty minutes of Portland. 

Luna and I took in the view at the top and had our photo taken before heading down the Boundary Trail and connecting to the Northern Loop (about 2 miles total). Luna met lots of other dogs and people and got plenty of attention (per usual), and we both had vanilla ice cream cones from McDonald’s on the way home. All thanks to switching gears and making the most of the day. 

Summit lesson: Flexible thinking keeps me sane. 

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