Today was a glorious morning to continue my sporadic exploring of the beautiful and little-hiked hills of western York and Oxford Counties.
I started with an easy .3 mile ramble up a jeep road from a farm due north of Devil's Den, in Porter. (I had permission from the land-owner - readily granted.) The summit meadow culminates in striking granite cliffs, facing southwest and providing splendid views. A skimobile trail joined mine from the east, just north of the summit, and I think this provides public access, from the south (the direction taken by Roy Schweiker on a hike to this summit last November).
I have often wondered about this mountain's eery name, but have found no reliable information about its origin. Even Google failed me, although it gave me the phone number of the Parsonsfield-Porter Historical Society. Dottie and Jin from the Society were friendly and knew some things about Devil's Den, but not why it is called that, or since when.
There is a much more famous Devil's Den at the Gettysburg Battlefield - a jumble of granite cliffs and boulders 900 yards west of Little Round Top. Those rocks ran red the afternoon of the second day of the battle, as the Blue and the Grey fought a bitter tug-of-war for that position, until a charge spearheaded by Hood's Texans finally drove the Union troops back to Little Round Top. Confederate sharpshooters used the Den's rocks for shelter, as they picked away at Little Round Top's defenders.
Col. Chamberlain's 20th Maine Infantry, holding the extreme left wing of the Little Round Top line, won glory and may have saved the Union by fending off a fierce Confederate flanking attack, even though the men from Maine were heavily outnumbered and low on ammunition. Those Maine veterans would have had "Devil's Den" burned into their memories, and it has occurred to me that one of them might have seen some resemblance in the rocky top of the Porter summit, and so given it the name it now bears.
If you bear down hard on your imagination, you might possibly see a faint resemblance between this picture I took of the Gettysburg Den two weeks ago, and this one I took this morning.
Ten yards behind the summit cabin, near the wooded high point, I found an ominous structure that suggests an alternative explanation for the name.
I headed five miles east into Hiram next, for a ramble of no more than three miles, round-trip, to the summit of Bill Merrill Mountain, which figures prominently in the view east from the Green Mt. Fire tower in Effingham, NH. An old woods road winds easily up the southwest ridge from Tripptown Road. The summit is wooded, but wide-open ledges a quarter-mile to the NE and SW provide views in nearly all directions, between them.
A VFTT Trail Conditions note by Roy Schweiker (whom I've never met) last November gave me the information I needed to find the trailhead and both sets of view ledges, none of which would otherwise have been obvious. Thanks, Roy.
I would have been surprised to encounter another hiker on either of these mountains, and I didn't. All of my pictures are here.