After a long day of sitting in the sun drinking whisky sours and
rafting across Cloud Pond, we pulled into the firepit amphitheatre
for dinner. The order of priorities now was simple: water, appetizer,
firewood then dinner. Ahh, the life of simple agendas!
is all about being on mission mode,” I remark as we organize
the remaining food for dinner. “Its all about surviving, doing
what you need to comfortably survive and nothing else,” I
continue. Mary chimes in, “And anything else is strictly for
Rafting on the thermarest provided
great access to the pond. Before dinner, I took it over to the right
bank and hiked up to the ridge to see if we could find the sacred-gem
of a campsite that would be even better than the “suite”
that we already had. There’s something primal and instinctive
about perching my raft in the bushes and running through the forest
in nothing but my sandals and shorts, looking for the perfect camp
site. The steep ascent to the ridgeline was littered with tumbled
rocks and downfall and for a moment, I stopped with a jolt of anxiety
that I should be more prepared for this mission—at least with
a shirt to protect my city-softened skin from the bushwack. But
then I went back into action and completed my scouting to no avail.
At least we can rest easy knowing
we found the best spot on the pond!
4: Day 3
I woke up fairly early today after a deep dreamless sleep. Last
night after hanging our bear bag, we decided to make good on our
midnight hike, 1.2 miles up to the fire tower on Barren peak. (“Party
at the moontower, bro!”)
view from the summit of Mt. Barren was spectacular. Against a moonless
sky, the stars lit up like nothing I’d seen since my recent
trip to the Flathead valley of Montana. Off in the distance a few
lights from a nearby town made me realized I had not seen a man
made light—other than a flashlight—since we arrived
a day and a half ago. Not only were the stars supplemented by the
town on the horizon, but also by a small fireworks display in town.
Six miles deep into the woods and we still got our fireworks display,
After we returned from our hike,
we let the exhaustion pull us into our sleeping bags. I stayed awake
as long as I could to view the stars through the trees, but once
the cozy confines of the sleeping bag were established, I only had
a few minutes.
morning, after cooking water with Mary for coffee, I’m sitting
on the perch above the inlet on the east side of the lake where
you enter from the AT. Immediately upon waking I realized this was
another perfect cloudless sunny cool day—a complete anomaly
for New England.
That’s what camping is all about. I can’t even remember
what daily problems plague me on an everyday basis back in the city.
All I can think about—finally, after two days of decompression—is
what I’m going to do with the remaining oysters, tuna, onion,
tortillias and peanutbutter we have left.
The blazing sun through the trees
is countered perfectly by the cool breeze whisking through the tree
tops. It is another perfect day. Perhaps after breakfast, we’ll
go on another thermarest float on the pond, or perhaps just sit
around and read all morning until its time to head back to Bangor,
and then home.
and Mary have been a pleasure to camp with as always—and of
course Hank too! We originally met during the Phish Vegas run of
’98, but it was not until they moved to Sherborne, Mass. that
we really got a chance to hang out. Since then, I come to know them
as some of the best people I know. They are fun loving and intelligent
and when we hang out, its like hanging with old best friends.
As I sip my coffee, a dragon fly
perches on my toe, enjoying the sun. In the distance along the shore
of the pond, an occasional squawk rings out from the frogs who seem
to be communicating from one side of the pond to the other.
prevails everywhere. There are no angular patterns of glass and
steel, but only organic patterns of pine needles and ripples of
clean Maine water.
On the way back, we’re planning
a few stops at some raging swimming holes we saw on the way up.
That will be a great final cleansing for an overall cleansing experience.
This trip combined with the Montana experience has taken me away
from the edge of stress and rainy-spring depression that sinks in
after so many cloudy days. I am now ready to face the challenges
of the world.
As much as I was sad to hop in the
car and head back to the civilized world, the transition was much
easier with a few Budweisers back at the truck. Tom, the gentleman
we met on the way in, apparently wanted to leave us with a little
Applachian hospitality and placed three moderately-cold beers on
the bumper of the truck. Wow, humanity is such a beautiful thing.