Fall looks like winter in the alpine zone

We connect to each other and the world by getting outdoors and this weekend was no different. Our adventurous spirits wanted a day in the mountains together and set our sights on Sugarloaf village and a hike up Burnt Mountain. On a good day (clear visibility) you can see great views of Sugarloaf Mountain and the Bigelow Mountain Range in the distance too.

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The thing about fall in the mountains is that it can look and feel like fall at the base of the mountain. But, as you climb in elevation fall can quickly start to look a bit like winter. This was exactly the adventure we experienced yesterday while hiking Burnt Mountain.

The vibrant orange leaves framed the “Burnt Mountain” sign as we turned and started up the trail admiring the fall color. It was not long before we started to see a dusting of snow on the side of the trail. It was  windy as we started with a light mix of rain/sleet.

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Before heading out, I checked the weather report and read that winds might be gusting up to 40 mph and snow early in the morning. I thought it “might” be that bad but thought we will just have to see. I also reminded myself that we are still in October.

We hiked with increasing winds and more sleet than rain. As we reached the alpine zone (above tree line) of Burnt Mountain, Jared and I had a good laugh at the minimal visibility and pretty relentless gusts of 40+ mph. We wanted to press on to summit Burnt Mountain. I mean we really, really wanted to push on to the summit.

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Could we do it? Sure. Would we have been fine? Probably. The weather was volatile and the wind was unrelenting at this point. This meant it was very cold and we immediately put on our shells to help block the wind. If we were going to the top we needed things to go smoothly and it would have to be a quick push to the top.

The thing about hiking mountains is that you have to listen to what the mountain tells you. And yesterday Burnt Mountain said today is not the day. We did enjoy a taste of winter and the wild, brutal adventure of the alpine zone. It was also a great test run for us. We spent the ride home talking about the gear and preparations we will need from this point forward (and well into spring) when we hike in the mountains.


This morning I am back home in Washington, Maine where the golden leaves are sunning themselves in the trees. Fall is still in full swing here and I am enjoying how mild it feels after yesterday’s adventure. I will continue to enjoy every minute of fall, but when it comes to mountain adventures it’s time to be prepared for winter.


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Jlynn Frazier

About Jlynn Frazier

Hi, I’m Jlynn Frazier and I am wild for adventure! I work a “9 to 5” like many people do and I am passionate about spending as much time outside in nature as possible. I look forward to sharing my experiences with you through stories and photographs and I hope to spark your curiosities to explore and protect all of our natural resources.