August 13, 2012

Ice Caves

Most epic adventures aren't pinpointed and pre-circled for you on the crumpled pages of an old Gazateer. If it were that easy - epic would not mean the same thing. The best trick for discovering hidden treasures is by talking to locals. On this particular outing I'd already picked a spot on the map to go, but in an effort to round-out our stay - I called in the locals. It's useful to call up sporting stores, Bed & Breakfasts, and wilderness guides to simply seek suggestions for places that are off 'the beaten path'.

We learn of an area situated deep within the woods where glaciers left a tortured path. Giant slabs of glacial ice once traveled 'ore this land, carving out blatantly obvious paths. Expansive crevasses are torn into the earth while massive boulders are left unearthed and awkwardly exposed. One purely wild remnant is a millennium's old ice cave. A rather narrow opening in the surface of the ground leads to an explorable gift of mother nature. Equipped only with a headlamp and enough ballsy courage to drop down into a black hole, there was only one decision we had and that was to enter.

The story goes that early native Americans used this ice cave to store moose, bear and deer meat throughout the heat of summer. Ice and snow remain inside until late September, just in time for the next round of winter temperatures to blow in and refreeze everything. We're told that locals only recently added steel foot-holds for the climb down in (after several injuries had occurred). The cold air instantaneously shocks the body while lowering ourselves down from the 83 degree surface air. The walls of the cave are damp and water droplets fall from the ungodly sized overhead boulders. 

The cave stretches 50 yards into the mountainside before forming a 90-degree turn. I turn my Black Diamond Storm to it's brightest setting. With wide eyes and careful footsteps over patches of ice, we explore onward. Imagining the history of this place and the people who've stood here is incredible. It makes you wonder how they happened across this patch of earth so many years ago. Headroom is soon limited. Clad in shorts and light-weight shirts, we both express the need to warm up so we decide to resurface. We dressed for a warm-weather hiking trip not necessarily for a trip back in time.


1.   L.L. Bean Tropicwear Plaid Shirt - Fly-fishing or hiking mountainous ice caves, this breathable shirt  will be your escape from summer's heat for many seasons.
2.   L.L. Bean Tropicwear Zip-Leg Pants - We can be honest, Zip-Leg Pants are only cool when nobody sees you. However, versatility and comfort both vie for importance when in the woods. These pants will have you covered (or half covered, whichever you choose).
3.   Black Diamond Storm Headlamp - A new waterproof, shock-resistant, 100 lumen beam that illuminates your path up to 70 meters with an intense white light. You choose the beam strength as well as a white or red light. I'm loving the battery meter on the side which tells you the remaining power.
4.   Merrell Waterproof Hikers - A mid-cut boot equipped with Vibram soles. An air-cushioned lightweight hiker for the muddy trails of Maine.


Mark B. said...

That's pretty damn cool! How cold was it down there?

Anonymous said...

Did you frantically zip on the lower part of your shorts? Or should I say pants?

Rhon Bell said...


I'd say it was a tad above 32 F. There was still pieces of ice on the floor, but again this was a mild winter.


Rhon Bell said...


Haha... It's nice to have the ability to zip the legs on when it begins to cool down at night, particularly around a campfire.

Take Care,

Shannon said...

Looks like an awesome spot. Where are those ice caves located?

Rhon Bell said...

On the shore of 1st Deb near Baxter State Park. It was a (cold) blast.