This was the summer to cross items off my “bucket list!” The two biggest items were climbing Mt Katahdin, which is the end of the Appalachian Trail if you start in Georgia or the beginning of the famous east coast hiking trail if you are starting in Maine! My other “bucket list” item was water skiing, which I had not done in over 30 years. Of course, my summer had other wonderful activities like walks on Higgins Beach, visits with doggie friends, the Great Pond wood trail, hiking Tumbledown Mountain and my annual father-daughter trip to Aroostook County to name a few.
Annual Father-Daughter Trip
My dad is originally from Oakfield, Maine in Aroostook County, the most northern county in the state. For about the past 6 years, I have taken dad back to visit friends and family. It has been such lovely times and we have created such wonderful memories. This year was no different. I always love to hear his stories of growing up. This year, we visited the Lumbermen’s Museum in Patten, ME. Dad and his family have a long history of “working in the woods!” It was fun going through the various buildings and hearing Dad’s stories about his father and the whole families’ experiences.
The Lumbermen’s Museum was wonderful. It covers 175 years of logging history. It is located on a road that many logs were hauled to the mills. There are 9 buildings dedicated to all of the equipment that has been used over the years. From building to building you see all the tools used for cutting and hauling the logs from the woods to those used to drive the logs down the river to the mills. Two of the buildings houses heavy equipment like the logging sleds and wagons pulled by horses or oxen. Another shed has two Lombard log haulers one powered by gasoline and the other by steam.
My favorite part of the museum was the replicas of the logging camps and how the lumberjacks lived while working in the woods. It was a structure about 12 to 15 ft long and about 15 ft wide. There were about 12-14 men living in one cabin at a time. One long bed was built along one wall and on the other wall was a long table with a long bench where the men would eat. A stove on another wall was to keep the camp warm and for the cook to prepare meals that would “stick to their ribs.”Over the years, life in the woods improved with better tools and living conditions in the camps.
Unfortunately, the day we were visiting the museum it was a rainy and dreary day. My photos really didn’t come out very good. The only one I have is of my dad looking at the various saws they had hanging on the wall of one of the buildings. Seeing the saws reminded dad of the summer his mother, father and five siblings worked in the woods logging. It was the job for two of my aunts to fell around 45 trees a day using a two-man crosscut saw.
If you find yourself planning a trip to northern Maine in Aroostook County, I really encourage you to visit the Patten Lumbermen’s Museum. Here is their webpage to give you more information: www.lumbermensmuseum.org
Great Pond Walks
Often, my summer days will start with a walk around the Great Pond trail that is located near our home. I never know what will greet me…
I always have time for my doggie friends!
One of the reasons I didn’t ride my bicycle as often, is I had many doggie friends visiting with me and prefer to take them for walks through Great Pond where they are less apt to get covered in sand and wet from an ocean romp!
I actually got to see Ralphie, three times this summer! Twice when I made the trip to Moosehead Lake to visit my mom and once when Ralphie and his owner, Alice, came to visit me!
Oh yes, I had people visits, too!
Crossed off the Bucket List
“Going to Camp” and Climbing Mt Katahdin
For the past two years, my friend Alan and I have been talking about climbing Mt Katahdin together. Earlier this year, I told him this was going to be the year that, as the Nike commercial says, we “just do it!” We decided on the week of July 30 to make the trip to Alan’s family camp on the west border of Baxter State Park.
I was so looking forward to the week of being at camp and finally climbing Mt Katahdin! The only other time I had been to Baxter State Park, where Katahdin is located, was with my family when I was about 10 years old. We went for a weekend of camping at one of the many campsites the park has to offer and hiking the mountain. I remember how much fun it was cooking over the open fire and sleeping in the tent. Climbing the mountain started out as a great adventure but just as we got to the timberline, the sky opened up and the rain started pouring down. It was torrential and dangerous! The rocks were very wet and slippery and the hiking path turned into a stream of gushing water. We made it back to our campsite totally soaked to the skin and feeling miserable!
That was my only attempt at climbing majestic Mt Katahdin! With a window of a whole week, I was hoping that the “weather gods” would be smiling upon Alan and me and we would be blessed with one good day to make the climb!
The day finally came for the “great camping/hiking adventure” to begin! With the car packed, we started the four-hour trek (from Augusta, ME) to Camp Phoenix. To get to Alan’s cabin, we entered Baxter State Park at the Togue Pond Gate, the entrance closest to the town of Millinocket.
Camp Phoenix is located on the west border of Baxter State Park on Nesowadnehunk Lake. It is such a beautiful setting! The cabin was once a part of a traditional Maine sporting camp where guests would sleep in small cabins and come to the main lodge for their meals. Camp Phoenix is still intact with the large lodge and individual cabins. In 1992, the sporting camp was turned into a condo complex affording families to own the buildings individually while sharing the maintenance of the common areas.
We arrived just in time to enjoy sitting on the front porch and watching a glorious sunset while enjoying a glass of wine. What a great introduction to Camp Phoenix!
I am happy to report that the day after our arrival was perfect conditions to hike Mt Kathadin! We rose early so we could get to the trailhead before 7:00 AM when they closed the parking lot to limit the number of people hiking.
The most gorgeous view!!!
This picture reminds me of the lone hiker we met shortly after I took it. He was going at a slower pace than we were! He was a slightly built man who said his name was Jack and he was from New York. Jack and his friend had made it to the top. Coming down, his friend decided to go ahead of him as he was walking too slow. Jack shared that he thought the next time he did a climb like that, he might train a little bit more….that most of his walking was along 5th Avenue and Broadway….we were surprised! Not only was he from New York but New York City! It sounded as though he and his friend had come to Millinocket and were staying at the only resort in the area. From the conversation, I don’t think climbing a mountain was really planned. Jack didn’t seem very prepared especially when he said that a worker at the resort had given him a backpack to use. His clothes were regular casual pants and a polo-type shirt and on his feet were sneakers. He had dropped his water bottle at the beginning of the trail and was unable to retrieve it so had hiked the way down without water! It was a hot day! I had about 1/2 bottle left of some Gatorade and gave it to him. He was very grateful and commented on the kindness of Maine people! We parted ways and further down the trail, met up with his friend coming back to make certain he was all right. His friend shared that Jack had just celebrated his 63rd birthday the day before. That made Jack’s accomplishment of summiting more impressive! We were relieved that his friend was heading back to meet him!!
It was a full, 12-hour day of hiking with a 45-minute stay at the top! I really didn’t think the climb up was that bad. For me, it was just special to meet the hikers who had completed their “thru-hike” of the Appalachian Trail! I got energy from them! Just imagine, hiking every day for 5 to 7 months and then reaching the end of the trail! I just wondered what it felt like. Was it a sense of accomplishment for completing such a huge goal or was it kind of a letdown, like after opening all the presents at Christmas…now what? I also thought of Percival Baxter who was the former governor of Maine from 1921 to 1925. It was his vision, in 1930, that created and preserved the beauty of the 200,000 acres that is today, Baxter State Park.
Going down, was another story! My knees starting “talking” or rather “screaming” my first step downward on the trail! I thought it was because of my age…I am 63 years old but after talking to other, much younger people, it seemed to be the same experience for most. Young or old, your body doesn’t like hiking down!!
People from all over the world come to Maine to experience our beautiful rocky coastline and tasty seafood. However, I strongly encourage you to make a reservation to camp at Baxter State Park to experience a whole other adventure that Maine has to offer.
The last couple of days at the cabin were spent relaxing…although Alan and a couple of other friends, who were at their cabins, did another shorter hike the next day. I graciously declined their invitation to join them and enjoyed a day of relaxing and reading. That night, Alan and I enjoyed a campfire, roasting marshmallows to squish between graham crackers lined with pieces of chocolate for a good and tasty s’more! The night was finished with a walk to the dock to lie down and gaze up at the sky filled with twinkling stars while listening to the mournful cry of the loons and yelps of the pack of coyotes!
It was a magical few days that brought back so many fond, childhood memories. I only hope that I will be invited back to Camp Phoenix every summer to explore more of Baxter State Park and relax in the great wilderness of Maine. Thank you, Alan, for the wonderful memories!!!
Last year, Dad and I went to Weld, Maine to celebrate our birthdays at the end of September. I had heard about the “rock pile” on the news and wanted to see it for myself. I blogged about it in my Summer/Fall Memories 2017 post. For those of you who missed it, it is a pyramid of rocks that was built over a 20-year period by Ardene Proctor and his family. At the top of the rock pile, is a cabin that they have graciously opened to the public for picnics. Dad and I enjoyed the day exploring nearby Mt Blue State Park and having lunch at the “Rock Pile!”
When my niece heard that we had been in that area, she recommended that I try to hike nearby Tumbledown Mountain which is a favorite hike of hers. Thanks to an invitation from my high school friend, Malcolm, I got to hike Tumbledown this year!
We arrived in the center of Weld and stopped at the general store to buy a few provisions.
The last “bucket list” item was…….WATERSKIING
Again, this was something that I wanted to try for the past two years and finally had the opportunity this summer. I used to waterski when I was younger but over the years, I haven’t had the chance to do it. It had been over 30 years since I had last tried it! What fun! I am hoping to make this an annual event for as long as I am able to get up!
Odds and Ends….
The Wall that Heals
I have visited the Vietnam Veteran Memorial Wall in Washington DC years ago. This summer, a three-quarter scale replica of The Wall visited Gardiner, Maine. This replica is 375 ft long and stands 7.5 ft high at the tallest point. Although it was a replica, it was just as moving as visiting the original memorial in DC.
Beach to Beacon Race
Do you remember watching the 1984 Summer Olympics that was held in Los Angeles and seeing Joan Benoit win the first women’s marathon? Joan Benoit Samuelson grew up in Cape Elizabeth, Maine and founded the Beach to Beacon 10K Race in 1998. It is run from Crescent Beach State Park to the Portland Headlight!
When it started in 1998, there were 3,000 runners, some them were elite runners from around the world. Today, the race continues to grow in popularity and registration for 2018 exceeded 6,500 people. The race route is so close to my home and if I am home the first Saturday of August, the day of the race, I walk up to cheer the runners on.
It has been a fun summer. Thank you for taking the time to read through my summer memories!
Until the next post…which will be of my travels throughout Southeast Asia….I wish you joy and sparkles!