no matter where you go, there you are

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Mt. Kineo

I think my favorite thing to do is hike. I've gone to the summit of Little Spencer Mountain three times, and as exhausting and difficult as it is, its one of the best hikes in the area. Big Spencer Mountain and Tom Young Cliffs are other local "big" hikes and the camp itself has multiple little trails to explore. Since I've hiked all of those trails in years past, this past summer I was adamant about finding something new, and difficulty friendly for my whole family. We settled on Mt. Kineo because it was closer than the other options, has different difficulty trails, and is a highlight of this region in Maine.

Mt. Kineo is not a very tall mountain but the combination of its beautiful 700-ft cliff face and the fact that it is a peninsula  in Moosehead Lake make it very unique. There is a golf course, one of the oldest in New England, and some homes on the land as well. Our little Prius was unable to make it the "backroads" way where you park on the side of the road and walk about a mile until you come to the mountain so we were forced to go the long way around; back to Greenville and up the western side of the lake until we reached the Ferry terminal. It's about a 10-15 min ride across the lake. It was very windy but I think that was only on the water because on land it was a perfect summer day: partly cloudy skies, a nice breeze and mid 70s.

Upon departing the ferry you have to walk about 3/4 of a mile to the Indian Trail trailhead. We hopped on and immediately started ascending the cliff-side of the mountain. It was definitely on the difficult side; steep and rocky. Lots of the trail involved climbing over large faces of rocks using hands and legs. It was really fun for me, but much harder on my mom. The entire way up the Indian Trail your vantage point is of Moosehead Lake and the farther you ascend the viewpoint gets bigger and better. When you get to the point where the Bridle Trail meets up with the Indian Trail, there is a spectacular overlook.

Since there had been so much climbing done to get to this point, Mom and Anne were pretty beat so they decided to rest for a bit then start the descent down the Bridle trail whilst Dad and I continued to the summit. We would then meet them back at the dock. From the overlook to the summit, the trail is fairly flat with little ups and downs as it takes you through a wooded forest. It was very nice and soon we were at the summit, denoted nicely but the old, but still climbable, fire tower. Its a little creaky and you can feel it move in the wind a bit, but it still felt very safe. The entire railing it carved with people's initials that have then rusted over. It's very neat.

Even thought the views on this hike had been terrific, nothing beats what you can see when your high above the treeline; a complete 360 degree vantage point. The entire lake spans before you in all directions and mountains upon mountains are seen in the distance. We could see Little Spencer and Big Spencer as well as a sliver of the pond on the other side of a small hill. The trees are dense and fill the land; it's hard to believe there are any roads down there at all. Clouds moved over and around us and we could see where the wind was at its peak down on the lake. It's places like these where there is nowhere else to be but at peace.

Monday, March 11, 2013

it feels like home to me

When I was two, after the birth of my sister, my parents planned for our family to take an early autumn vacation in Maine. I don't remember where we were intending to go originally, but the place we had booked either closed or cancelled...something that forced us to find new lodging. Although I was only a toddler at the time, I firmly believe it was one of the best things to happen to us as it led to our discovery of Spencer Pond Camps, one of the prettiest, most serene, peaceful places I've ever been to. Throughout my childhood, we made it a bi-annual tradition to return there over the summer, bringing various family and friends along the way, and take in nature at its most raw.

Spencer Pond is located about an hour north of Greenville, ME. You drive up the east side of Moosehead Lake for about 30 min before the road turns to dirt and you wind your way through logging territory for another 30 min following the red signs pointing to camp. Little Spencer Mountain looms over as you look out for animals such as deer, moose, rabbit and pheasant amongst a plethora of others. The driveway is on the left and its still another 1/4 mile through thick woods before seeing the small parking lot and infamous wooden Moose cutout on the gate.

The camp sits on Spencer Pond, which is much smaller than Moosehead Lake but still large enough that you can fill a whole day boating around on it. There are 6 waterfront guest cabins, ranging in size from 2-8 persons. There is also the main office cabin where the owners live. Sabotowan, the first and largest cabin was our Spencer Pond home for 7 wonderful visits; however, our most recent visits have put us in Lunkers, Bemsis, Cricket and Moose. Sowangan/Skip-Wiley is the smallest and only cabin us Chapmans have not inhabited.

The cabins are all wonderfully cozy and intimate with books lining the shelves, old maps and pictures hanging on the walls, and games hidden away in cubby holes. The kitchens are stocked with all of the dishes, utensils, pots and pans you need, and the refrigerator is run by a propane tank on the exterior of the cabin. Water must be pumped in from either a well or the lake depending on your cabin. As a kid, one of the first things you learn is how to prime a water pump in the morning.

There are an infinite number of activities to be done in and around the camps. Hiking, canoeing, kayaking, birdwatching, swinging, fishing, berry picking, laying about in hammocks, reading, puzzles. Even when its pouring rain outside, entertainment is available. Bemsis, Lunkers and Moose each have their own dock whilst Cricket, Sabatowan and Skip Wiley share the large one at the main "beach." There is an understanding amongst all guests that Spencer Pond is not a party place; even in the daytime, really loud noise and lots of ruckus is frowned upon. And after dark there is a strict quiet time policy.

Spencer Pond is like a second home. It doesn't matter than I've only ever been 10 times, it's something that has always been with me in my life. It's somewhere where I know I can find peace and solitude without the pressures of this crazy, hectic society we now live in. With no electricity and only a smidgen of cell phone service, you can shut off the fast pace and crank up the relaxed one. And I've been able to share it's experience with my family and best friends, introducing them to this special little world in the Great North Woods and creating memories to last a lifetime.