|BEG: Bald Mtn. Lookout Tower|
|Hazard Level: ?||Main Tunnel Clearance: NA||Tidal Coverage: No||Known # of Tunnels: NA|
|Hazards: Head Injury; Falling; Obstacles; animal/human encounters|
|Construction Materials: steel, wood, concrete|
"If you want to explore, go explore someplace outside ... It's just a matter of time before a kid gets trapped somewhere and dies" says Captain Linwood Green of the Orono Police Department (taken from an artical about BEG which appeared in the Bangor Daily News in late December of 2002).
We know that you kids these days are said to have a short attention span, but hopefully the drugs your parents have put you on will help you read all the way down to our reflections on outdoor safety near the bottom of the page... and please take the good Captain's advice and go explore some of these outdoor places! One exciting development we noted on our last visit to this location is that some boneheaded chode-hat removed the bottom portion of the stairs on the watch tower. Fortunately, kids are often quite good at climbing up things like this... but never quite as adept at climbing back down things - so here you have a fine place to practice jumping down onto uneven stony surfaces. You may say "I don't think that is such a good idea to jump of something like that while on top of a mountain where help could be so far away"... but really, what better incentive is there to land correctly? It used to be that everyone could just walk up these sketchy metal stairs (or maybe they were wood, who the hell cares now), then walk back down the sketchy stairs... Now to get back down you have a couple options: jump and land just fine, which takes a little practice; jump and twist your ankle, really easy to do; jump and fall on your face, very easy option again; jump and have your heel bones come out through the bottoms of your feet, well thats just gross and you might have to try it a few times; jump and break your ass bone, this is about as easy as jumping and falling on your face but you want to lean backwards instead of forwards when landing; or if you do not think that you can jump off safely, then try to land on your head, as this will likely save you from having to walk, crawl or roll down the mountain with a broken ass bone, broken or sprained ankles, etc, etc.
An odd mixture of abandoned structures, ruins, natural areas, and recluse yet maintained buildings; the summit of Bald Mountain in Dedham does not offer the "urban" aspect of our usual explorations. This must be just the type of place our friends at the Orono PD were thinking of. We are so certain of this, that to further encourage you to "go out and get the stink blown off you" we'll even tell you where it is. Of course you must have a DeLorme Maine Atlas and Gazetteer (how could you live in Maine and not have one of these!?)... so turn to page 23. Bald Mountain is in the upper right corner of section D-4, right between Phillips Lake and Branch Lake. The mountain is easy to recognise from several miles away. Several radio towers can be seen at the top, as well as several bare patches of granite. DeLorme shows several unimproved roads and trails that go to the top of the mountain, but we have only been able to find one that is obviously a trail.
Before we get into all the meaty little details, we'll tell a bit about what's on this mountain... There's several radio towers and the small buildings that go with them, an abandoned lookout tower, and a few other small buildings in various states of disrepair. There are great views of the surrounding woods, mountains, and lakes from the summit and slopes of the mountain; and even better views of the same from atop the old tower. Also many signs of wildlife... such as local humans who seem to go to the top of the mountain to break glass bottles on the bare granite (purhaps a local tradition or right of passage); and tracks from bears who likely climb the mountain to graze upon the abundance of blueberries and enjoy the view.
There are several trails and roads that all lead to one obvious trail that goes to the summit. Just follow any of the dirt roads or ATV trails near the base of the mountain and you have a good chance of getting onto the one that obviously goes up the mountain. If you walk past an abandoned bus next to the side of the dirt road then you are on the right road. If you come to a place where the dirt road or path turns into path of bare granite on the side of a hill then you are going the right way... Once on that granite path, the proper way to get to the top of the mountain is to go up hill. It can be fairly steep in places, and be carefull of loose dirt or small rocks on the slope... stepping on them could cause the loss of footing and a rough and tumble descent back to the bottom.
Once at the top... As mentioned earlier: There are three or four (maybe even five... we did not bother to count) radio towers with small buildings next to them, some of them surrounded by metal fences and danger/no-trespassing signs. Don't mess with these buildings, or you'll be in trouble. There are two other small buildings. One is a wooden shed-like building, it's one room looks as though a pack of badgers on a crack enduced frenzy were once locked withen. Same for the other small abandoned building as well, except that one is a strange little metal building. With it's faded and chipped army green paint and formerly reinforced glass windows, this building looks as though it has been there since the lookout tower was built. Several years ago this building's windows were mostly intact and it looked as though it was used to store supplies for fire marshals stationed at the lookout tower. On our last visit we found that the window on the metal door had been completely smashed out, it looked as though the building had been completely looted of anything interesting (the room contained many small drawers which were open and looked empty or left laying on the floor, cabinets left open, trash and other debris tossed into the open window, etc.). A trail near one of the radio towers leads to a small wooden lean-to on the south-eastern side of the mountain. Another trail goes to the northern side where there is a collapsed building. All that is really left of this building is the roof which sits on the bare granite mountain top, and a couple of walls. Another trail from this area goes around the eastern side of the mountain.
The watch tower sits just about in the center of the area where the radio towers are. Caution should be used when climbing to the top. Several of the steps and boards on the landings feel loose, and one landing no longer has a safety railing. The trapdoor in the bottom of the cabin atop the tower no longer has a trapdoor, just an open hole; and there are no longer any screens or panes in the windows. As mentioned earlier, this is the best place to get a view of the surrounding landscape. Bringing along a map of the area, a compass, and binoculars or spotting scope make this view much more interesting and easier to figure out what hills, mountains, and lakes you are looking at. This is a great way to find other places in the area to explore. Some places we recomend that can be spotted from this place are Peaked Mountain (exposed granite cliff to the west, good climb and another good view from the top), the bare spot of granite on the hill near Lucerne-in-Maine (another great view, and some deep fisures in the granite which are large enough to explore), the cliff face between Second Pond and Big Hill (another good climb, and the pile of huge granite slabs and boulders at the base of the cliff form several caves), closer to the northern side of Bald Mountain is knoll or bluff called Oak Hill (the steep looking side is another granite cliff with a small cave on a ledge at one end).
Be aware that there are bears and other wild animals in this area. The day we were last at the summit of Bald Mountain it had rained all of the day before, we found very crisp looking bear tracks in some dried mud at the summit. They had to have been made while the mud was still soft, after it had stopped raining, otherwise the rain would have eroded the tracks a bit. So the bear must have been through there sometime in the last day, before the mud dried but after it had stopped raining.
Exploring the outdoors can be as interesting in some respects as our other more typical areas we feature on this site, but nature presents it's own risks. Leaving your house can be dangerous, exploring natural places can be more dangerous than most people would suspect. Most people who have lived their life in a city, surounded by people, take for granted the convenience of living in such close proximity to others. It's natural for people to want to "get away" for a while and enjoy nature without the hustle and bustle of the city; but they must realize that if they get hurt, unlike in the city, there is not always someone withen yelling distance to help them out. In that respect, exploration of the outdoors and nature can be much more dangerous than exploring in an urban enviorment. When exploring an old building or storm drain, you are often fairly close to to places where there are other people who might be able to help if you get hurt. From the top of Bald Mountain it's about a mile walk down a steep granite path to get to the nearest house... can you walk that far with a sprained ankle or broken leg? or if you get mauled by wild animals? or if your walking through the woods and a twig pokes out your eye? Those are fairly minor things that could happen while exploring anyplace like Bald Mountain or the other areas of interest we mentioned that could be seen from the summit. What's the worst that could happen? you could fall off a cliff and be paralyzed from injuries sustained during the fall... you could be consious for several hours without being able to move, and if you could call for help, who would hear you? How long will you survive in a situation like that, and how long do you think it will be before someone else decides check out the cliff on the back side of Oak Hill (or where ever it is that you fell from). Ever been walking in the woods and notice that there are not a lot of animal bones, despite all of the animals that have lived and died in the area? Dead things in the woods get eaten and the bones scattered around by other living things... and what happens to the bones? Most of them are eaten by small rodents and other vermin. That's after all of the soft organic rotting material has been stripped away by flies, maggots, and beetles. Just trying to encourage safety by elucidating some gruesome details of life and death, thats all. Now, take Captain Green's advice and run off to explore nature and the outdoors if you want to. It's fun, we promise ; )
Now, time for some pictures!!!
|Photo of the small abandoned wooden building.||
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|Photo of the inside of that building.|
|Photo of one of the radio tower buildings.|
|Photo of the collapsed building.|
|Photo from the base of the tower, looking up.|
|Photo of the 4th landing, with no safety railing.|
|Photo of a corner inside the cabin atop the tower.|
|Photo, a view of some things from the top.|
|Photo of one of the more interesting things scrawled onto the wall inside the tower.|