Spring. Today. The first morning I was able to walk out to get my Bangor Daily News paper by the road on ground that was not frozen solid. Unbelievable! It is 7 pm now and I am still able to look outside and see the last traces of snow on the field in front of my house.
Springtime is generally a mixed bag for me. I grew up on a farm, and the arrival of spring has had long history of psychological hits on me. The arrival of Spring meant that the days of lounging around in the cold dark were done, and there were always things to do, work to be taken care of, rock to pick up, plants to deal with. It had a dread to it that no one else seemed to notice other than the poet TS Eliot:
“APRIL is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.”
Things are different now. I want to hike, and did, today!
Two nights ago I was over to Loon’s house. He hiked the AT back in 1998, and invited me for supper over to his house in nearby Searsmont, ME. His house looks over a broad valley with unique views of Levensellar Mountain way off in the distance. His partner, I think Sue, told me she has always wanted to hike up to the top of it, but that she tried and has not been able to do so. There are no actual trails up there, but I used to bushwhack my way up about 20 years ago. Today it hit 50 degrees, and I was inspired to get up there this afternoon .
I put on my Goretex lined boots, grabbed my Leki poles, asked Jody dog if she wanted to go with me ( She indicated yes) , put on my shorts, and drove up to a place where I could park my car. There was little snow at the start, which was at the base of a giant commercial wild blueberry field. I actually used to mountain bike up there, but walked this time. We started up a rough 4 wheeler trail that was badly eroded and had a pretty good-sized stream running down over the rocks and gravel. I didn’t care if my boots got wet, it was only going to be an hour and a half or so. There were some patches of snow to walk through , at the most a foot deep. No problem. It was a steep climb, all the way, up to close to 1,000 feet, starting about 300 or so.
We made it all the way up until we had to enter the forest, and feel our way up to the top. There was a very big “No Trespassing ” sign along a stone wall up that I ignored. Who the hell would care today?
We went over a stone wall and then the snow began to get deeper, and deeper. I should have taken a day pack and had my snow shoes strapped on it. The granulated refrozen snow was working its way into my boots. The further we went, the deeper it got, until I was sinking into granular ice, thigh deep. The sharp grains were abrading my bare lower legs, and shins. The branches I was plowing through were scratching my legs. Here we go again, an Uncle Tom moment. Jody was sinking with each of her tiny steps and working hard, all four pounds of her.
Eventually we reached the top , where there were fantastic unique views of Levensellar Pond, and the road I live on , High St. I saw some open ledges on top, and while there didn’t appear to be any decent tent sites, there were many gnarled trees that I could string up my sleeping hammock to. There was a fire ring on top , too. I plan to spend a night up there. I can actually walk there. it is about two miles from the house.
So, a good day , and some hope for me this Spring.
I am really looking forward to heading down to Austin , TX tomorrow for a week of basically nonstop revelry. I am heading down there with 4 guys from ME, and one from NH who have been camping friends at the Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival . We are going to take in the Old Settlers Music Festival ( camping Wed- Sat) . Even better is rendezvousing with a couple of the MEGAEX AT gang, the Captain and Louis , who live there. It is going to take some real serious risk management for me to pace myself. Someone has to do it.
I am going to take along my Big Agnes Air Core sleeping pad. ” Spend a night with Big Agnes and you may never want to sleep inside again.” More later.