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May 04, 2020
Up until about two days ago, I'd never heard of Mount Waldo. Two hours away from my home, Mount Waldo is located in Frankfort, Maine. Mount Waldo isn't much of a mountain, at just under 1100 feet tall, though the short length of the trail makes it a bit of a grueling climb (at least for me!). Mount Waldo is home to a quarry that at its peak produced granite that was used to build the Washington Monument, the U.S. Senate Office Building, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the United Nations Building, the Philadelphia Mint, and the Empire State Building (according to Wikipedia).
I didn't know any of that before I arrived. I often find new locations online either through research, or in this case, dumb luck. I belong to many groups on social media, one of which is a Maine Hiking group, and someone had posted photos of a recent hike there, now that many state parks and local parks had reopened. I could see from the photos that it might be an interesting place to photograph, so knowing nothing more than what I saw in those photos and the location, I headed out at 2:30am so I could be there before sunrise.
Weather was predicted to be partly cloudy, usually a good sign for sunrise color. On this morning, it seemed someone forgot to tell the clouds and fog around Mount Waldo. I parked in the dark and made the climb- the equivalent of 29 floors, according to my iPhone's Health app- all the while hoping the clouds would clear and give me some nice light. Unfortunately, the fog was stubborn and despite the fact that I spent about 3 hours there, the skies never cleared and the mountain was shrouded in mist.
Fog can make for very moody, mysterious images, so instead of getting frustrated, I made the best of things and scrambled over large chunks of granite all around the old quarry, which is now filled in with water, to try and find some interesting compositions. "Misty Morning at Mount Waldo" is my favorite of the bunch. I love the layers created by the thickening fog as your eye moves from the nearest rocks and trees to those in the background. It created a somber mood that was broken only by the song of many birds, mostly black-capped chickadees, from what I could tell.
In my three hours there, I never saw another soul. I often find that at sunrise, I go someplace normally packed with people and find I have it all to myself for hours. It allows me to experience the place in a way many others do not. This turned out to be a welcome respite from staying safe at home, and I was still able to socially distance. Sad that we have to make that a consideration these days. Strange times.
I hope you all are staying safe and healthy!
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