Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Rhon Bell, an outdoor enthusiast, spends his time exploring the Maine Woods and documenting his journeys.
Growing up in Aroostook County, he embraced the outdoor lifestyle at a young age. Living today near Portland, he spends weekends and week-long adventures hiking New England summits, canoeing the historic Maine waterways, and ice fishing for lake trout.
Follow the journey as Window to the Woods discovers new destinations, and check out his other blog, Backwoods Plaid.
With a majority of the spring gardening underway, I tossed a tent into the pickup and headed for the mountains of Maine. As a few sprouts pop from the fertilized ground, I'll be fireside, with my feet up. We pulled into a remote campsite late in the afternoon and carefully chose the area in which to plot out our tent - flat ground, no rocks and not in a low area (in case it did actually rain). I feel that we've locked down our routine fairly well. I setup the tent and begin splitting wood. My fiance makes it a home - sleeping pads, sleeping bags, pillows and finding a nice spot for the dogs to rest in the shade. Equitable division of work.
Weekend home in a box.
Times are busy. Putting in an offer on our first home, planning a summer marriage, starting a new career, and buying a new Harley seem to take precedence and replace time wearing Plaid in the Backwoods. No fear. You can't keep a good man down, and I would say, in relation, can't keep a country boy from the woods. Trips are planned; campsites are booked. A cold, windy, wet Spring leaves Mainers anxiously awaiting Summer. Namely, the sole reason we rented a small cabin recently rather than springing for a 2-man tent on a damp forest floor.A quiet dirt road, far from anything you'd call "the edge of town", brought us to our weekend home. Upon arriving at camp, one matter of business always comes foremost - unloading pre-split camp wood next to the fire pit. Followed promptly afterward by the first campfire. My inner boy seems to escape about this time. While I chop kindling, collect twigs, arrange my "tee-pee" style tinder bundle and spark what will become an all-night fire - other duties escape me (such as helping to unload the remainder of our weekend belongings and essentials). At least that's my excuse - she doesn't read my blog. Afternoons are spent enjoying a local waterfall seemingly placed here for our sole enjoyment. Rushing water has the tendency, for me, to erase all earthly stresses and cares. The early sounds of spring fall into unison as the birds join in song and the wind rustles amongst the branches. Responsibilities are merely a drive back home; all the more reason to stay.
Warmth is arriving in New England. It was a perfect weekend to pack the tent, a cooler and head out into the woods. We didn't need a reservation. We meandered down the back roads until reaching New Hampshire and enjoyed the chirping of the birds and the scents of spring. Landing along the Kanc Highway, we stopped at one of the last campgrounds and picked a secluded site.
We weren't the only campers this weekend, but it was relaxingly quiet. Nature lovers unite.
Mt. Major holds amazing views throughout the entire climb if you're looking for a weekend escape. Scenic outlooks are often held for reward at the summit, but this is one mountain hike that doesn't require hours of toil and sweat for only a few fleeting moments of views. Located within the heart of the White Mountains, but only a short jaunt from Portland, you can't go wrong. Bring the dog.
The trailhead on Route 11 will point you on a 3.8 mile hike, with a steady incline. Remnants of a stone hut, dating back to 1925 still sit overlooking Lake Winnipesaukee. On our last outing, it served to break the relentless wind while we sat inside. Our ears thanked us. It seems as though you can see a majority of the 4,000 footers from a seat at the top, particularly special arethat of Mt. Washington.
Back country camping offers the real sense of adventure often lost today. Booking a bush plane is more affordable than you may imagine - that's excluding the intangible benefit of unbridled explorations. Vibrant greens and blues fill the landscape below as we taxi off Acadian Seaplanes in Rangeley, Maine. Our Cessna stashed with three days of needed - wool shirts, a tent, and grub. Aviation headsets quickly tune to XM radio. Hank Jr's "A Country Boy Can Survive" sounds best three hundred feet above the pines. A last minute plan, and first mission before landing, was to see a Moose. In a marsh, off our third lake, twenty minutes into our trip, we spot a large bull in his natural habitat. Two passes are made over a full-grown male feasting on lake vegetation before we coast in for a quiet landing. From a distance, we observe the beauty of the mammoth Maine creature. After what feels like an hour passes, we take back to the air. A distant body of water comes into view beyond a old growth of white pines, high above the canopy below. Lower Richardson Lake will be our home for the following days. This is one of the largest in the state and home to only a historic guiding camp. A secluded sand beach awaits the floats of our plane. No time is wasted setting up camp and wading into the lake for a few evening casts. Each of us experience success before dusk by hauling in a glimmering salmon. The enjoyment is quickly shared before release, but the memories will surely last. The night sky is soon filled with billions of blinking stars shining so brightly that mirrored reflections are present on the peaceful lake. A certain calm is brought to this world that is hours away from the nearest house or honking horn. This is a place I could call home. A cold beverage of choice and good company make for an entirely perfect camping experience. Afternoons are spent exploring the wilds of a place rather untouched by man. The only part of landing at camp I look forward to is grilling thick steaks over the flames of a fire where the wood was chopped by my own hand. The crackling of an evening fire fills the only void that reading a quiet book leaves behind. My first bush plane camping experience is one for the books. Heading home can wait a few days...