Monday August 05, 2013 | 02:12 PM
Posted by Mike Tetreault

Nature is me. And yes, nature is you too. 

How do I know this to be true? Because your photo and recipe entries for the Nature is ME contest prove it each and every day. From images of snowy landscapes, spiders and summits, to recipes for delicious sandwiches and pies, you show how nature is simply a part of who we are in Maine. We are all connected to nature in so many different ways. 

But what about conservationists? How are conservationists – people who devote their lives to protecting nature itself – connected to nature? I turned to my friends and colleagues to find out. This week, I chatted with Lindsay Bourgoine, Maine policy associate of the Appalachian Mountain Club.

 
 
 
MT: What is your favorite childhood memory of the outdoors?
LB: My family is from Readfield, Maine and I grew up going outside a lot. When I was twelve I hiked with my parents and a friend’s family from Abol Bridge (in Baxter State Park) to Roaring Brook during the winter. Then from Roaring Brook we hiked to Chimney Pond where we could see Mount Katahdin. My friend and I sledded down the entire trail from Chimney Pond to Roaring Brook -- I will always have the image of us with rosy cheeks sledding down the whole three-mile trail. 
 
MT: What pulls you outside into nature? And what are your favorite outdoor activities?
LB: I really love mountain views; I’ve always been in love with mountains. My love of mountains ties led me to becoming geology major and I am fascinated with mountain formation. I spent a semester studying in Montana and lived at the base of Mount Jumbo, a five thousand foot mountain. It made me wonder why anyone would choose to live anywhere besides the base of a mountain. Hiking a mountain gives you a really nice feeling of being on top of something -- nature helps you see an accomplishment in that way. 
 
 MT: What hidden treasure in Maine should be at the top of everyone's To-Visit list?
LB: One of my favorite things to do is to go to Morse Mountain in Phippsburg. You can park any time of the year and hike two miles to the beach. You get to see great views along the coast and on the mountain. 
 
MT: When was the last time you ventured into nature to seek the thrills of adventure? And what did you do?
LB: Two weeks ago I left work in Portland at 5 pm on a Friday and drove up to hike the White Mountains. I went up the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail to the Lake of the Clouds Hut on Mount Washington. I didn’t see anyone else on the trail. At one point I turned around and got to see an incredible sunset. It was a pretty fun experience. It’s nice how it’s so light out during the evenings in the summer that you can go out and have this experience after work even.
 
 MT: How do you get outdoors and enjoy Maine's winter wonderland during the snowy months?
LB: I’m a big skier. In the last couple of years I’ve discovered backcountry skiing. I bought some new skis and put skins on the bottom so I can hike up hills and then come flying down the other side.  
 
MT: What is your favorite smell, taste, or sound from nature and why?
LB: I really like the smell of the woods when you’re hiking on a trail. In high school I ran cross-country and I always remember the smell of leaves falling and breaking down in the fall. The smell of the woods reminds me that I’m in the middle of nature. It’s the same smell that you find in the middle of any woods, whether it’s close to home or on some big hiking trip – it doesn’t matter where you are. There’s a distinct smell of the woods after a rainfall which I also love.  
 
MT: What is the best outdoor experience you've had beyond Maine's borders?
LB: I worked in the White Mountains of New Hampshire for five seasons as a member of the hut crew for the Appalachian Mountain Club. A lot of people try a hut traverse from Carter Notch to Franconia Notch and stop at all eight huts in twenty four hours. It’s a 52.5 mile hike total and the cumulative elevation is more than Mount Everest. I did the hut traverse during the summer of 2009 with two other women.  It was fun to stop at the huts along the way and see friends. I am really proud of this accomplishment, especially as significantly fewer women complete it than males, and the fact that I’m not an ultra-marathoner, I am a hiker.
 
MT: What is the most important lesson you’ve learned from your experiences in nature?
LB: Nature really is everywhere. I love going out and having a remote experience, but you don’t have to go far to connect to nature – you can connect to nature in your backyard. You can have an incredible outdoor experience anywhere you are.
 
MT: If you could thank nature for one thing what would it be?
LB: Life! It’s the simplest answer. Nature gives us the air to breathe, the water to drink. It’s amazing how all the natural processes work together to allow us to live on the planet. We are so fortunate to be here and have this opportunity.

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Mike Tetreault leads The Nature Conservancy in Maine, where he works with partners in conservation, government and community development to identify solutions which ensure that Maine's natural resources are available for people and for nature.

He holds a degree in environmental studies from Brown and a MS from the field naturalist program at the University of Vermont, and has studied resource management in Kenya, Mexico and throughout New England.

Tetreault started his career teaching wilderness leadership and environmental education, and has worked for The Nature Conservancy since 1998. He lives in Bath with his wife, their daughter and a menagerie of pets.


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