The expansive view from the summit of Mt. Abraham in western Maine was breathtaking, and well worth the climb. From the trailhead, the first part of the hike entailed a pleasant hike up moderate slopes through mixed forest canopy, but the last section got tougher. The grade became steeper as the trail passed through spruce woodlands, open granite faces, patches of krummholz, and finally a talus peak! When I reached the talus field, both calves seized in cramps which made the climb all the more interesting. Standing atop the piles of rock, I turned around and the strain and pain was forgotten, replaced by awe and wonder.
The purpose of the climb was to access areas off-trail and record botanical species in different natural communities - the canopy and understory trees, shrubs, and plants in the herbaceous layer - as well as terrain features, soil conditions, and any signs of human disturbance. This was one of my first experiences as a conservation aide in the summer of 2011, and one against which subsequent hikes were compared... "Was it as strenuous or take as long as Mt. Abraham?"