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Home » Adventures » Maine » Day 8

April 26 — The Last Day of Expeditions

Bald Mountain

This day’s hike explored Bald Mountain, part of The Georges River Land Trust, a local gem recommended by my aunt and uncle. The trail started a little inland from Camden and traversed a well marked route through the forest. Some sections of the climb were very steep, but all nontechnical. Abundant great views permeated the way up, and generally hiking in the woods that morning was a simple joy. I definitely need that more. But would even experiencing nature’s tranquility everyday be sufficient? Definitely not.

View from atop Bald Mountain looking towards the ocean

View from atop Bald Mountain looking towards the ocean

As the name implied, Bald Mountain had a sheer rock peak, void of much vegetation. The lack of chlorophyll opened up a great view of the valley below with the bay in the distance. All the trees populating the forest around the summit were still bare this early in the season, providing an endless sea of brown sticks pointing skyward. As much as I enjoyed the peak, the view from atop this rock in the fall must be absolutely spectacular.

On my way down, a trail runner passed me as he progressed along this loop. I long to have such readily available access to such fantastic trails, but I must be patient. Although in this particular case, the overabundance of rocks and roots would bring back too many bad memories, but in general remote dirt paths through the woods trump car infested concrete. Maybe one day.

I also passed a couple late risers still making their way up to enjoy Bald Mountain, but otherwise arrived back at the trailhead uneventfully.

A Run

Back at the car, I changed into workout clothes for my first run since Boston. I had the good intention of running on Thursday, but with the other rental car dying, time ran too short. For my reintroduction to flying on two feet I planned an easy 45-60 minute jog over a route mapped ahead of time. Unfortunately I lacked any topographical information while designing this course, so it inadvertently began with a long, steep downhill which felt extra special after the mostly negatively sloped Boston course. And since I was running a loop, barring a wormhole, any descents would result in a corresponding later amount of climbing.

I kept my pace very easy, just enjoying the area, and the outing was uneventful until I happened upon an unexpected intersection. My route should have just been four simple left turns, but at this junction the road to my left did not appear to lead anywhere useful. To add to the quandary though, I could not see any “No Outlet” or “Dead End” signs decorating the road. My (usually wrong) intuition believed it a side road that ultimately ended in the middle of the woods. So I bypassed this turn and continued onward.

As fate would have it, a short while later I encountered another turn and convinced myself that this one was indeed correct. This ill-fated road eventually arrived in the small hamlet of Hope, Maine, which unfortunately brought me none of its namesake emotion. There I finally discovered to my horror, although not amazement, that this road was wrong. Since I was not carrying a map in this unfamiliar area, I now had to make an uninformed decision — continue forward or turn around. I had not carried any water for what would be a long, hilly way to backtrack. But if I kept pushing forward, the road might never circle back to the trailhead. And of course, asking for directions was out of the question.

I decided instead to punt by returning to that confusing intersection and trying the unknown street. This move was a large gamble though, because if the road did not go through, I would be even further from my car and still without water. Luckily though, this road about which I was so initially hesitant was really the one I should have used all along. Within a couple short miles the pavement brought me back to the trailhead. Although I survived, my poor planning turned an easy jaunt to rejuvenate my legs into and hour and a half ordeal.

Ocean Side

My mom and I

My mom and I

Since the afternoon was still young, I swung by Camden Hills State Park again, not yet completely decimated by my unexpectedly long run. Instead of heading into the hills though, I ventured towards the ocean shore. A long, gradual descent brought me to the rocky Maine coast that I so vividly remembered from childhood vacations. Unfortunately the coast was only composed of small rocks in this area, but scampering among them still brought joy. The endless rhythm of waves lapping upon the nearby shore also mesmerized an Iowan that usually only encounters waves of corn blowing in the wind. I sat and reveled at the endless beat a long time, with the sea salt permeating the senses for added effect.

A long time was not endless though, and neither was my time on the ocean’s edge. As my tendency, I grew restless from sitting still and the sun continued to sink from its apex anyway, so I headed back to town into partake in Maine’s obligatory meal.

Ocean Dinner

Maine is famous for its lobster and not consuming the delicacy is sacrilegious (to their tax base). This ritual meal also precludes sojourners that have returned home from fielding endless inquiries as to their inexcusable behavior of avoiding the dish. To fulfill our sacred honor, my family and I dined at the local lobster shack, which cooked the crustaceans shortly after fishermen liberated them from the ocean.

Carrying my obligatory lobster

Carrying my obligatory lobster

Much to the benefit of my nonexistent knowledge of fine dining etiquette, my aunt and uncle were old hands at properly consuming lobster, even possessing a dedicated picnic basket and utensils for just an occasion. Their only slightly tongue in cheek retirement plans were to charge clueless tourists a large premium for a first-class, authentic Maine lobster experience. I received a complementary preview of the service though, and their expert equipment and instructions guided me in devouring Larry (as my lobster had been named). Of course eating a lobster was not exactly an overly complex operation, but rich visitors are ignorant of that, and posses a tendency to willing fork over large amount of money to experience the local culture. The natives, however, rarely act uniquely from the foreigner, but they just trumpet the stereotypes to assist the out of towners in parting with their money.

Regardless of how merchants scam the tourists, the lobster was surprisingly good, but unfortunately not very filling. A stop at an ice cream shop across the bay rectified that situation, topping off everyone’s tanks.

After a break to allow our food to settle, we explored my aunt and uncle’s backyard. Backyard was a misnomer though, as their property encompassed an acreage extending into the forest and running alongside a marsh. Calvin and Hobbes could have had many adventures in these woods. We decided against any dangerous descents riding a wagon though, and merely took a subdued guided tour, enjoying nature for all it offered.