Terrain can be mountainous without stunning heights

Somehow, much of Downeast Maine feels mountainous, even without the loft. The highest points in Washington County, for instance, are Lead Mountain, at 1,479 feet elevation in Beddington, and Pleasant Mountain, 1,373 feet, in Devereaux Township, mere foothills in some other places I’ve lived. Yet the terrain has steep slopes that still challenge motor traffic, as well crests that offer long views of seemingly unending forest.

In that way, it has a lot in common with the Allegheny range in Pennsylvania or neighboring West Virginia, which touts itself as the Mountain State.

The elevations here can be misleading, since much of the landscape is only 20 or 30 miles from the ocean. The town of Wesley, for example, population 98 or so, occupies a highland reaching only 226 feet above sea level, but that’s also a windswept blueberry barren with far horizons. The drifting snow piling up on State Route 9 there can be treacherous, as I learned the hard way.

View while driving State Route 9 through T30 MD BPP, one of the unincorporated – and uninhabited – townships in Washington County.

The highway itself sometimes runs along ridges as long as it can before dropping to a streambed below and then climbing to the next crest. I’m struck to see the next landmark cell-phone tower on my route not off in the distance in front of me but rather far to my right or left with a chasm and lake in-between.

The contrast in colors during summer helps. In winter, this would all blend into variations of white.
Approaching Pocomountain and lake in Princeton, as viewed across a blueberry barren.

Much of the land is boulders and exposed bedrock rather than rich loam.

There are reasons, then, those hills are named mountains. Pay heed.

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