Tumbledown Mt in Maine is just about my favorite place on Earth so far. I have many memories of camping trips beside and on top of this magical place. Years ago there used to be a huge party every Memorial Day weekend with hundreds of people at what’s called “Tumbledown Field” at the start of the Parker Ridge Trail. The first few years I went it was a great time, lot’s of nice people, loud music, 4×4 truck racing and sometimes a little to much drink, but everyone got along well and fun was had by all.
The last year of the party the word had “Got Out” about this party and many more people from other states showed up. At best count there were over 900 people there, and it didn’t take long for things to get out of hand. Many people were injured, cars burned, fights and domestic problems, underage drinking and a lot of drugs. It was so crazy the State Police would not come in to the camping area, they just stayed out on the road and stopped anyone who came out. I wish it had been different, but that’s what happens with crowds, booze and drugs. Bad combination.
There were many fun times though. This is the place where I camped for a week without speaking a single word just to see if I could! I woke up next to this pond every day and felt like I was all alone on the Earth. As I write this I can still feel the way it was, a complete feeling of peace and tranquil bliss that I have never felt since. A pioneer searching for the perfect place to put down roots and build a new life. If I could I would build a small cabin and live there forever.
This is also a where I went camping one Christmas weekend with a young woman named April. We were just kids really, I think I was 19 or 20 at the time. I had a Jeep then and we packed it up with our gear and drove to the log shelter at Tumbledown Brook near the start of the Parker Ridge Trail and set up camp. I had stopped at the Ranger station before going in for a fire permit and so someone would know we were there for safety’s sake.
Christmas eve I tried to start my truck but the battery was dead. The nearest house was a 4 or 5 mile walk but we needed help, so off we went! We got to the road, then hitched a ride to the Ranger station. He brought us back to within a mile of our camp, and gave me a battery from one of his vehicles. I carried this 40lb slab of lead into the jeep, installed it, only to find it was to weak to start my truck. We called it a day, with the thought of trying again in the morning.
On Christmas Day, we started out again, but this time to the first house I could find. I remember stopping a few times because April did not have good boots and her feet started to get to cold. She would sit down and I would put her bare feet inside my coat to warm them up, then move on. When we arrived at the house, we must have been a sight! Dirty clothes, hadn’t showered in days and smelled pretty bad! I met the owner and his adult son at the door. They immediately invited us in, and I explained our situation.
I asked him if anyone was willing to come and jump start my truck so we could go home. He spoke with his son, a few of the other guests he had, then did something that to this day I still can’t believe. He gave me the keys to his truck and asked me to bring it back when I was done! Can you imagine giving a total stranger you vehicle?
April and I drove back to our camp, packed up and tried to start the truck, but still no luck. I hooked a chain to it and dragged it back to their house. The owners saw us coming, helped me hook up a charger to my truck, then brought us into their Christmas celebration. We spent the next 3 hours eating, drinking coffee, and answering questions from all their guests. They would not accept any money and said simple thanks were enough. That was one of the most important things to happen to me at that age as it showed me there were at least a few people worth knowing in this world.
I went back to that house Christmas Day 25 years later, and it was still the same family. They remembered me and April, invited me in and we spent an hour talking about our lives since then. They were just as nice as I had remembered them. It was a wonderful experience I will never forget.
The sad part of this story is my relationship with April. It wasn’t long after this that she told me it was “Just a fling” and she was gone. I know I was young, and people say it was just “Young Love” or some other dismissive statement, but it’s 30 years later and I still miss her. It was much more for me I guess that for her. I’ve always worn my heart on my sleeve and I see no reason to change. I believe in romance, slow dancing and candlelight dinners under the stars. Holding hands while walking on the beach, not saying a word because we don’t need to. You just know when it’s right, and that’s how I felt. She will be with me to my dying day.