May 30, 2013

Remote Riverside Tenting Trip

The first warm weekend of each year means a special camping trip. Instead of planning an extravagant hiking or fishing trip – we simply choose a new, but beautifully scenic location and pack accordingly. These first adventures serve as a way to reconnect with the wilderness and familiarize ourselves with new outdoor gear purchased over a long and cold Maine winter. I like to call this a time to become “re-grounded in how life is meant to be”. Chopping wood, cooking three meals a day over an open flame, and listening to the rustling overhead as wind blows through the trees is serene.

Rifling through a New England atlas, we find a promising location along New Hampshire’s Swift River to make camp. Offering both mountainous views and, as the name would suggest, a wild river by which we’d make our weekend home. Located in the heart of the White Mountain range, our tent would be wedged between forty-eight 4,000 ft. mountains.

GPS coordinates lead us to a spot with just enough grass to park alongside a narrow country road. Tossing packs over our shoulders, we follow a compass into the woods and listen for the sounds of  rushing water. The afternoon is young and within an hour the tent is setup. A stack of firewood begins to grow next to a circle of stacked rocks still caked with spring dirt and mud. This ring will serve perfectly for this weekend’s fires.

Afternoons are well-spent in a hammock re-reading several books by Henry David Thoreau snatched from the bookshelf on the way out the door. Warm rays of sunshine gleam through the forest ceiling. The sun, combined with a chorus of songbirds, soon finds the book resting softly on my chest and my eyelids closed tightly. True relaxation has set in and is hopefully placing a precedent for the remainder of this year’s camping trips.

Bacon and egg breakfasts, lunches of dutch oven pizza, and dinner-time stews adequately fill the void left in our stomachs from hours of exploring the lay of the land, chatting fireside and splitting wood. Entertainment is found in card games as well as a Frisbee we packed. No matter how you choose to spend your time in the woods – enjoy it and relax; these memories will stick with you for a lifetime.

As we exit the woods and begin the drive back home I mull over how my new axe proved to be as sharp as it is American made. The Swift River was as refreshing to quench our thirst as it was to wash our faces in the early morning. I can’t wait for next weekend…

May 17, 2013

Lately on the Coast

Summer seems to be shifting its weight and Spring is losing ground. Weather is warming and more fishermen are taking to the waters. Busyness is felt as you cruise down the coastal roads – there even seems to be more seagulls, but I suppose that comes with the increased fishing activity. T-shirt temperatures and blue skies are key elements to any good outing. The past few days have started to qualify. Here’s to a great Maine summer… and for your information – the tent and sleeping bags are packed and I’m looking to hit the road.

The brilliant colors of the Portland docks always capture my eye. The bright greens and reds of the boats bounce off the glassy water like a mirror reflection. The varied sizes, shapes and colors of lobster pots stand in the background. A tranquil afternoon. 

Larger fishing vessels lie in waiting on the outskirts of town. Cleaned up, stocked, and ready for a successful haul. The crew hustles back and forth, making last minute preparations. Beacons of local lighthouses continue their work as well. As with the lobster pots standing down town, these towers stand strong and steady, for if a storm moves in – their light will be needed. 

May 7, 2013

My Inner Boy

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.