June 8, 2010

Oak Island

Blowing the red Old Country canoe off course, the wind skipped across Great Pond. Paddling towards a distant point on the wooded shore, I dug deep, as if avoiding a violent waterfall in some rain forest jungle. Slowly and with much effort, the canoe’s bow ticked back on course. As my shoulders burned, I reevaluated my course and headed towards the protection of the saw-like shoreline. Protected from the wind by tree covered points, I made my way towards a dock and my waiting friends.

“What took you so long?” Dan asked as I got to the dock.

“The wind, Dude. Do you see those white caps?” I responded as I caught my breath. “It feels like you’re paddling upstream.”

Quickly we packed the remaining sleeping bags, food and fishing poles into the canoe and pushed off the dock. With the help of two more paddlers and a stiff tailwind, we made it back to Oak Island in a third of the time.

Stashing the canoe between two trees, we set up camp in proper Huck Finn fashion, and headed out to explore the island. With a few hours of sun remaining in the early summer evening, we set off across the island in search for fishing holes, traces of other campers and the highest point on the island.

In the distance, loons called as the first mosquitoes of the season buzzed around, settling on exposed skin.

A goose feather blowing away.

Spencer searching for the source of a distant loon call.

Pack out all trash. Extinguish all fires. Cut only dead trees. Bury human waste 100 feet from water.

Crawling around the shoreline, we hopped from rock to rock avoiding the tepid water. Dropping towards the hills to the west, the sun cast an orange hue on the trees and rocks. Consecrating the first days of summer, I rolled up my jeans to below the knee and liberated my feet, going barefoot on the rocks and pine needles.

Isolated by a half mile of water on each side and claimed by a thin pillar of smoke from a lone campfire, the island was ours. As if aware of the potential pranks and horseplay offered by a half dozen twenty year olds, the occasional boat gave the island a wide birth.

Walking to our camp and the promise of freshly cooked sausages, I murmured out loud, “This is the perfect place for a fort.”

Here are some more links,
Oak Island (Picasa),
Great Pond (ART).

March 16, 2010

Gluttony by the Campfire


Months of brutally cold nights starting at 4 pm make you appreciate lengthening days and warming temperatures with the same fervor as seeing your special lady friend, or special man friend, for the first time in months. In this case, I hadn’t seen warm evenings in five months and took to the opportunity of spending time with close friends and grilling meats like an aging Trustifarian to a Ralph Nader book signing. Needless to say I was excited.

On Friday afternoon we stocked up at the local supermarket with the essentials: a few bottles of wine, sausages, rum and ginger beer, ground bison, chips, various hot condiments, chicken breasts, zucchinis and some Coors lattes, and headed to Tucker’s house in Belgrade Lakes for an evening of gluttony by the campfire.

Kick starting spring one dark and storm at a time.

Zucchini and olive oil and chicken and ginger sauce.

As the sun crept below the horizon, we fed the fire and enjoyed the fruits of the grill. The last rays of light hit clouds coming off the coast, giving everything a pinkish hue. Conversations meandered from place to place like a group of unaccompanied ten-year-olds at a summer carnival.

Illuminating the grill with fire light.

Tending the grill.

Despite flirting with the mid 40’s during the day, the temperature dropped well below freezing after sunset making the fire much more than an aesthetic contribution to the evening’s festivities.

A taste of the Rockies on the lakes of Maine.

Grilling greed: premature consumption of burger or other meat that requires further cooking.

Lubricated by pounds of meat and a few beverages, we watched for occasional shooting stars, cussed about girls, whittled sticks and went on various outings in search of firewood. Our numbers faded as one member of the half circle surrounding the fire pit after another left for the comfort of bed and the promise of the next day’s activities.

Here are some more links,
Gluttony by the Campfire (Picasa),
By the Campfire (Picasa),
BBQ from the South (ART).

February 23, 2010

A Hike in the Beginning of Spring

Sitting on a barren ridge overlooking the Belgrade lakes, I kicked spots of lichen looking for marble sized rocks. Wind gusts flexed the trees and wrestled pine needles as I picked up a small dice sized piece of granite, pulled back the pouch of my wrist rocket and let go in the general direction of a nearby tree. With a zing, the rock chipped off a quarter sized piece of bark and ricocheted towards the frozen lake some 600 feet below.

After exhausting the aerodynamic rocks within reach of my feet, I set my wrist rocket down to enjoy the unseasonably warm Saturday afternoon unfuddled by boyish temptation.

I kicked my feet out on an ottoman-like rock, rested my head on my scrunched up Filson Mackinaw cruiser, and crossed my fingers on my chest.

Two hours earlier, Dan and I had set off on a quest to carpe diem despite having celebrated my 22nd birthday the night before. After deliberating between a trip to the coast and a local gun show, we opted for a more feral outing and headed due west towards the Belgrade lakes region of central Maine. I threw two wrist rockets into the back of our car and we set off. After a thirty minute hike under the canopy of fir trees, the foliage opened up exposing an easterly view of central Maine’s lakes and rivers. For the next few hours we shot at trees with our wrist rockets, captured the season’s first cosmic rays and watched the occasional jet on the final leg of its transatlantic journey.

After twenty minutes of daydreaming and listening to the sounds of snow melting, my boyish impulses returned. I thumbed the blade of my Swiss Army Knife open and whittled a fir branch with no intended destination or journey other than tapping the smell of fresh fir. As the branch shortened and narrowed, my mind jumped to an earlier day some 15 years ago when woods-lore captured my imagination and time.

Building on my countless hours spent struggling to make fire with pieces of wood in my back yard as a seven year old, I started shaping the piece of fir in my left hand into a spindle as part of a bow drill. A bow drill uses a friction to create a small coal.

After finalizing the spindle, I set out in search of the board and hand piece. Scavenging through the underbrush, I narrowly avoided two branches to the face and eventually settled on a dead fir branch and spent five minutes banging it against a pointy rock like one of those dudes from a Geico commercial. Next, I pulled out my red lace from my Danner boot and was off to the races. A half an hour of swearing, bloodied knuckles and frantic blows into a small nest of dried grass later, we finally got a flame.

The fruits of our labor.

Yours truly in my Filson Mackinaw Cruiser and an LL Bean Chambray work shirt.

Dan letting one rip.

Searching for a target.

As the sun sank towards the mountains we shot our last rocks off towards the distant lakes and headed back towards town and the promise of warm food. It was a good day.

Here are some more links,
A Hike in Beginning of Spring (Picasa),
Hiking (ART).