Back for a weekend at the Camden Hills Ski Shelter. It’s a great a time here in the summer as it is in the winter.
I reserved it for eight folks after we arranged to spend two nights here a couple of months ago. Three of us stayed here Friday and four on Saturday nights. This pattern of “flight before the actual backpacking takes place” is common. It is hard to find people who actually follow through on intentions to backpack. I believe that this behavior is primarily caused by the difficulty we have in extracting ourselves from our very busy lives. That and the fact that things do come up- not feeling well, sudden family obligations, unfavorable weather predictions. It’s a wonder people get out and backpack at all.
Nevertheless, it’s me, Auntie Mame, our friend Cathy (who has never backpacked before), and Jody, the 4 pound Pomeranian here for both nights, with a surprise visitor joining us just before dark on Saturday night.
Our friends Tug and Georgia were thoughtful enough to hike in Friday night and grill salmon and veggie burgers for us all, complete with salad fixins, and roasted potatoes. Unfortunately they’re spending Saturday down in Portland helping a friend move. Ouch, 90 degrees predicted there !
I’ll have to say, this shelter is the ultimate right now. I am lying here in my sleeping bag as I type away. Each of us has a bottom bunk, plus our very own top bunk where we can put our stuff, and our very own picnic table inside this voluminous building (yes, three tables inside). There’s dry oak firewood provided by the Park, inside and outside fireplaces, a clean outhouse ( with toilet paper) , the rushing Spring Brook right beside us, two more picnic tables, two barbeque stations, and a fire ring outside. There’s even a trash can with a new plastic liner! All for $32.10 for up to 7 people. Call the ranger if you want to reserve at 236-0849.
Saturday morning we humped it 850 vertical feet up the 1 mile Slope Trail to the 1350′ summit of Mt. Megunticook, where we sauntered over the ridge to Ocean Lookout, then returned.
The view of the Atlantic, the patchwork of islands offshore, and the rivers, lakes, and surrounding hills is second only to Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park on the East coast.
Upon our return to the shelter, it was Chef Salads for lunch , then a post-meal nap. At 3:30 PM we were off again for a four mile loop that featured the superb Sky Blue Trail.
This 1.7 mile trail is the best in the park, as it passes over brooks, stone walls, blueberry patches, moss, ledges, elevated punchions, and the cushion of a century of spongy pine needles. The trail excels in all seasons.
There is no question that one ignites the becoming dry hardwood provided by the rangers and prepare meals that use the two elevated grills for roasting. Mame and Cathy prepared grilled chicken, and roasted vegetables for dinner.
We found a damned up place in one of the streams here, where a pool was up over my knees. It is the perfect place to sit and cool off after a long day of hiking.
At 8 PM, the sound of a harmonica was heard approaching the shelter.
It was Cathy’s husband Hank, who changed his mind after a demanding day back in the world of musts and shouldas, and humped his backpack two miles to join us here tonight.
As Hank rolled into the shelter, he remarked, ” The last time I was up here it was 1960!”
After we all settled back in to the shelter for the evening, I fired up my headlamp and read the group a bed time story: “A Hitchhiker’s Guide to Maine”, from Lawton Grinter’s excellent book, “I Hike“
In the morning we had a leisurely super-omlet, expertly prepared by Cathy, on the full-sized fry pan that she unselfishly hauled up the Multi-Use Trail. Thanks to Mame for assisting with the Pocket Rocket.
We’ll be back to see how great this place can be when the Fall foliage erupts in color!