It’s hard to express how good it felt to take this picture. It was more than just the view, the soothing breeze with the smell of pine. More than the sound of the wind and a nearby stream. It was a sense of coming home to the place where I feel so connected to the land, a place I am the most comfortable. The mountains of western Maine are like no other place I have ever been. If this was the 1800’s, I never would have come back to write this.
As a young man I spent many weekends camping in this area. Back then I could not afford great gear and I had to rough it much more than this trip. Many times I woke up in the pouring rain, soaked to the skin, and slept the remainder of the night in my car. Even with bad trips like that, the pull of the woods brought me back again and again.
Today, as I drove in the 12 miles of sometimes single lane road to the campground, I felt the rush of going back in time. Back to a time of my youth that was so full of promise, a time of simpler joys and quiet nights. But I also thought of what it must have been like to be a pioneer in this area, riding my horse through the woods along a clear stream. Breaking into an open field to see this beautiful lake in front of me. I would have broken out my ax and built my home right here on this shore.
This was the view from the stony shoreline of my campsite. The main campground was across the narrow lake by the sandy beach. Even though it was so close, I felt miles away in my mind. I shut off the outside world and started thinking like a weary traveler from the past. First things first, set up camp.
Everything I brought fit in two large duffel bags, a cooler and a backpack. All fit in the canoe along with Vinny and I with room to spare. In future trips of longer duration, I will forego the cooler as ice will only last 2 to 3 days and stick with canned or fresh food. The site was fairly level, very shaded and about 10 feet above the waterline of the lake. Once the tent was up and covered by the tarp, I took a little paddle around.
Can you imagine waking up to this every day? Going out in the lake to catch your dinner. Stalking deer and moose, partridge or ducks to put food on the table. Growing vegetables in the fertile soil by the shore. Building your cabin from the spruce and cedar trees that grow all around here.
The pioneers had many hard times, many died in search of their place on this earth, but they had something many people will never have. They had true grit and determination, the intestinal fortitude to go out there and make a spot in the wilderness their home. They had the joy and pride of having done it themselves. They had a spirit that is lacking in most people these days.
As I come back to the campsite I am thinking about a good dinner and a quiet evening. Just some time for Vinny and I to be alone with the soothing sounds of nature. Unfortunately for us the people at the next campsite, about 200 yards up the lake, decided they were going to share the music they love with everyone! I could hear the echo of it from the opposite shore it was so loud! So much for going to bed early!
This is why I hate going to campgrounds. To many idiots! Oh well, make the best of it. I knew this was going to be a “Shakedown” of my new gear and a refresher of my outback skills, but next years trips will be away from all people.
Campfire going, food cooked, full belly and a good wine to end the first day. Goodnight Vinny.
It’s 1:30 am, and idiot next door is singing! It took all my self control to not go over there and give him a piece of my mind. I regain my composure, look up and realize he did me a favor. Look at the sky!!!!
Yes, those are the “Northern Lights” along with about a billion stars. I spent the next 2 hours sitting there with tears in my eyes. This one moment made the entire trip worthwhile. How do you top something like that? How can anything else stir my soul more than the unbelievable beauty of this evening? It’s mind boggling to think about the vast stretches of space, the distances between stars. If only the idiot next door was so far away! He finally shuts up, and I crawl back to my sleeping bag to find Vinny blissfully asleep, and join him.
It’s 5 am, and this is what greets me. WOW! I grab Vinny and paddle out into the lake. I can’t put into words the scene, so I will just post the pictures.
Is that incredible or what! Just amazing what happens when the water is 70 degrees and the air is only 40! Brrrrrr, a little chilly this morning. “Look Vinny, a loon!”
It took an hour and alot of paddling just to get these shots. They are tremendous divers, they can stay underwater for 30 seconds or more, and then pop up 100 yards away. Good thing I brought my 300mm lens! And just for a laugh, it was not 20 seconds after that shot of Vinny that he jumped up on the wet plastic seat and proceeded to fall in the lake! So much for bird watching!
Breakfast of champions! No, not Wheaties. A 24 oz ribeye with southwest rub, new potatoes with garlic, shallots, thyme and parsley with 3 over easy eggs to round out the meal. Something about all the paddling and the cool temps made me hungry!
OK Vinny, time for a walk to burn off breakfast. From my site a few trails lead off into the forest. Vinny starts off down one and I follow. “Hold on Vinny, I’m hurrying!”
What did you find Vinny? The Maine woods at her finest! In the spring this waterfall runs hard, but late in the season it flows with the most tranquil sound, captured in small pools surrounded by moss, fallen branches and inhabited by water bugs.
I sat beside this pool for an hour while Vinny ran up and down the rocks. It was great to see the little guy having so much fun. His age is showing as he struggled with the inclines and the moss. He fell a few times, got all wet, but jumped right back up as if to say, “I’m not going to let age slow me down!” When we got back to camp, he flopped down by the bank and watched me wash the dishes.
I can’t blame him. The view from our site is wonderful.
By mid afternoon, Idiot started with the music again. He and his wife had been out fishing and it was time to cook fish and start drinking again. I could smell the fish, and as the booze was consumed the music and laughter became louder and louder. Not again! I had wanted to stay another day, but I decided to leave in the morning. Maybe he would shut up early? NOT! You just can’t fix, stupid!
Next morning was the same beautiful sight. I never get tired of this.
Why do so many people not see what is right in front of them? Why do so many complain about not having anything to do when there is so much around them? If they just look away from their smart phone for a moment, walk away from the hustle and bustle of the city and get back to nature.
Out here there are no cell phones, no internet. No taxis or buses, no traffic or mobs of people. Just you and nature. Just think how much better you could connect with your children without all the distractions, the memories they would carry the rest of their lives. What’s more important than memories? They are the only things you take with you when you die. (I put an 8 instead of a 9, but you get the idea)