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Carey Kish

Carey Kish of Mount Desert Island has been adventuring in the woods and mountains of Maine for, well, a long time. If there’s a trail—be it on dirt, rock, snow, water or pavement—he will find it, explore it, and write about it. Carey is a two-time Appalachian Trail thru-hiker, Registered Maine Guide, author of AMC’s Best Day Hikes Along the Maine Coast, editor of the AMC Maine Mountain Guide (10th ed.), and has written a hiking & camping column for the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram since 2003. Follow his outdoor travels and musings here, and on Facebook/CareyKish. Let Carey know what you think at MaineOutdoors@aol.com.

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Posted: June 4, 2016

Take a hike to celebrate to the 40th anniversary of saving Maine’s Bigelow Mountains

Written by: Carey Kish

 

Friends of Bigelow, the group that spearheaded the 1970s’ citizens’ initiative campaign to create the 36,000-acre Bigelow Preserve on the Bigelow Mountain Range, will celebrate the 40th anniversary of the successful statewide vote with a public potluck supper at 6 p.m., Sunday, June 5, at the Carrabassett Valley Public Library and Community Center.

Earlier in the day, group members will duplicate the 1974 climb to Bigelow’s summit to plant a “Save Bigelow” flag “to claim the mountain for the people of Maine.” That climb, which received national publicity, kicked off the initiative effort.

A 12-mile-long massif in northwestern Maine with six major peaks, Bigelow is one of the gems of the Appalachian Trail. At the time of the June 8, 1976 vote, the Massachusetts-based Flagstaff Corporation planned to develop Bigelow into a four-season resort with a giant downhill ski area dubbed “the Aspen of the East,” a jetport, and a marina on adjacent Flagstaff Lake. A legislator of the era described it as “a bunny club for Boston billionaires.”

View of Bigelow Range from Cranberry Peak. Carey Kish photo.

View of Bigelow Range from Cranberry Peak. Carey Kish photo.

This year Friends of Bigelow will plant a flag on 4,145-foot West Peak to “reclaim” the mountain for Maine people to remind officials and the public of the Preserve’s special status—created by Maine citizens despite opposition by Gov. James Longley, the legislature, and much of the state’s business community.

State government has increasingly treated the preserve as just another part of the public-lands network, which is under threat from excessive cutting of timber pushed by the LePage administration. The state also hasn’t acquired the full 40,000 acres prescribed by the Preserve law and, for logging, has widened a preserve road contrary to the spirit of the law.

Bigelow's West Peak and Avery Peak from near Stratton Brook Hut. Carey Kish photo.

Bigelow’s West Peak and Avery Peak from near Stratton Brook Hut. Carey Kish photo.

The Bigelow Preserve Act requires the range to be “retained in its natural state for the use and enjoyment of the public,” including “hiking, fishing, and hunting.” Timber harvesting must be regulated “consistent with the area’s scenic beauty and natural features.”

The 10-mile hike, open to the public, will begin at 8 a.m. sharp at the Firewarden’s Trail trailhead on the Stratton Brook Road in Carrabassett Valley. It’s expected to take eight hours. At least two Friends of Bigelow on the February, 1974 climb, Lance Tapley—who led the 1970s’ Save Bigelow campaign—and his wife Peggy Tapley, plan to climb this year.

Flagstaff Lake from Very Peak, Bigelow Range. Carey Kish photo.

Flagstaff Lake from Very Peak, Bigelow Range. Carey Kish photo.

At the supper, the group’s officers and a representative of the Natural Resources Council of Maine, which lent important support to the 1970s’ campaign, will lead a discussion on preserve issues.

Bigelow is unique among state lands and possibly in the United States as a large, park-like area established by people’s initiative in a statewide vote. Forty-five thousand registered voters signed a petition, gathered by 550 volunteers, to put the range’s future on the ballot.

Those joining the hike should email lance.tapley@gmail.com or call 207-626-3298. Those attending the potluck supper should email margaret.tapley@gmail.com or call the same number. The Carrabassett Valley Library and Community Center is off Route 27 near the Sugarloaf ski area access road.

Source: Friends of Bigelow.

View down range from Little Bigelow. Carey Kish photo.

View down range from Little Bigelow. Carey Kish photo.

Horns Pond and North and South Horn from the AT. Carey Kish photo.

Horns Pond and North and South Horn from the AT. Carey Kish photo.

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