I spent the last three days hiking away from my house and camping with friends and family. When I mean hiking away from, I don’t mean driving someplace and hiking there. I mean walking out the door, and stepping away from the house and crunching over the thick mantle of snow through the fields and forest to be outside for a while.
I’m very fortunate. While it’s probably true that anyone can walk out their door with a backpack on and eventually embrace trails and walking paths, if I walk for five minutes in just about any direction from my house then I’m in the woods.
Yesterday, brother Roy, my hiking buddy Tenzing, and I walked 7.2 miles to get to this cabin. We used snowshoes to break out the first half mile of trail, then put them away for a 2 mile road segment.
On the way there, we had a couple burgers and a sub sandwich at Drake’s, the only liquor/ gasoline/convenience store in this part of town. Later, I was walking up a steep segment of steep trail when I shouted out,” Hey, we all forgot to pay for our food!”
“I paid,” said Roy.
“So did I,” said Tenzing.
I was only able to make it right, via my pleading “$10-bill-down-to-the-store” phone call to ever-faithful Auntie Mame, who helped me out yet again, as she does each and every single day.
We made good use of a freshly tracked snowmobile trail that had us chugging up 600 vertical feet. We put the snow shoes on again for the last two miles of our walk. We met a porcupine who was overhead, chomping bark along a branch of oak . Roy learned that in Maine, you always look up in the woods, to see if there is a porcupine above you.
At the camp, we welcomed Dave and Kristi, who arrived on the back seats of two snowmobiles, with their sled full of gear in tow. They made a couple of new friends on the way up here.
Auntie Mame and my sister-in-law V8 showed up an hour later after I cranked the wood stove and had the building warmed up. Plenty of dry ash for us to throw into the cavernous stove.
The Jamrog brothers cooked up a Polish feast for dinner: three kinds of pierogis, grilled kielbasa, horseradish, sour cream, and mustard.
It was warm enough in the cabin that we let the stove go out overnight.
Different day the next morning- warmer and raining. Roy, Tenzing, and I perked up a few cups of coffee and headed back up the ridge for a four mile loop back to the cabin. It was raining, in the 40′s, and the footing was like walking on sand. The ice was melting.
I was packing light: iPod Shuffle, earphones, Garmin eTrex30, and my iPhone ( for photos). The trail had softened up enough to make snowshoes a must, even with 1/4 inch of ice coating the branches of trees up on the 1200 foot ridge.
Inside my down sleeping bag, settled atop my Neo Air, I read Outside magazine and Cache Lake Country: Life in the North Woods. We gabbed, and I was back and forth between z-time and reading.
Later, they’ll be more from Mame’s bottomless pit of appetizers, along with Kristi’s chili, Dave’s corn bread, and Jan’s Carrot Cake Cupcakes.
It’s getting windier, and clearing. Winter left for just a bit.
A couple of hours later, found Tenzing, Roy, and I atop the summit of Bald Rock Mountain, on a full-moon 5-mile hike to a summit overlooking Penobscot Bay. The rest of our gang had walked a more sensible three miles and turned back when it started to snow a bit.
Roy maintains, “Up here, you can hike 20 miles in the snow and rain, and still gain weight.”
“May be, Roy, may be”.