Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Blueberry Mountain, Weld... a new mountain (#9 of 60)

On a picturesque Maine summer's day, Simon and I hiked Blueberry Mountain in Weld. It was my first summit of this mountain. For those interested in this quick hike (we summited in 43 minutes) just Google the mountain for directions. The trail head is at Blueberry Mountain Conference Center just a few miles outside of Weld. The manager's dog, a chocolate lab/pit mix named Sheeley (sp?), joins up with different hikers. "She just loves to climb," said her dad. She met us near the top after hiking with two folks and climbed back down with us. Sheeley's a friendly little dog who got on well with Bailey. If you want a short hike with big bang for views, try out Blueberry Mountain in Weld. For more photos click on this sentence.

Click on photos to enlarge. 

Monday, July 29, 2013

AT Boys

Trevor, Josh, and Matt... the AT Boys
We hosted 3 AT thru hikers this past weekend. The full story with a dozen pictures may be found by clicking on this sentence. Otherwise, there's the story:

They're called SOBOs, Appalachian Trail hikers who go from South to North on the 2200-mile wilderness trail that stretches from Maine to Georgia. Along the way these free spirits are treated to "Trail Magic," gifts from locals ranging from bottled water or candy bars to a dinner or an overnight.

Trail Magic in Rumford: We hosted 3 SOBO hikers this past weekend on a "Zero Day" (i.e., no miles hiked). Trevor (trail name Crunchmaster, Tennessee), Joshua (Milk-run, North Carolina), and his second cousin Matt (no trail name, NC) enjoyed a couple of dinners, big breakfasts, movies, and real beds here in town (about 25 miles from the AT crossing in Andover). But there's more to the story:

The AT Boys were contacted by the Maine Game Warden Service to join the search for a missing hiker from Tennessee. According to logs on the trail, it seems these 3 may have passed this hiker up near Lone Mountain by Sugarloaf Mtn. Without hesitation, the boys took an extra day off from their schedule. At 5:30am on Sunday, Brock Clukey, a Maine Game Warden and also one of the wardens featured on the Animal Planet show, North Woods Law , picked up the 3 so they could show the search teams where they believe they had passed the hiker, a 67 year old woman. After a 15-hour day, Trevor, Matt, and Josh returned to a lasagna dinner and chocolate cake.

This morning, I dropped them off at the AT crossing on East B Hill in Andover so they could head off toward Grafton Notch with the goal in a few days of reaching Gorham NH, the gateway to the White Mountains. Long term: Trevor's plan has him finishing the trail in November while Matt and Josh are thinking December.

Each of the boys is keeping a journal of his adventure. Trevor's is online both on Facebook (Trevor's 2013 Thru-Hike of the Appalachian Trail) and on the AT Journals while Matt and Josh are keeping hand-written journal books.

We enjoyed hosting Josh, Matt, and Trevor this past weekend and we wish them all the very best as they test themselves on the Appalachian Trail. Godspeed and best wishes from Rumford, Maine!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

A gift for my poetry classmates

A gift for my poetry classmates

On Tuesday,
behind my Orono home,
sprinkles dot the Stillwater River
as a waning fog drifts
toward the lower dam.
Here, this morning,
as a weeklong heat wave
dissolves into
a mid-summer stillness
and new poems and words
echo from our classroom,
I stretch and yawn
while, across the river,
birds indulge in a chorus
of song. 

Trail Magic (8/60)

For hikers on the Appalachian Trail, unexpected gifts of food, water, and even lodging pop up during their 2185.9 mile hike. Such gifts are known as Trail Magic. I took in 3 SOBO (south-bound hikers) this weekend and provided room and board. A day off on the AT is known as a Zero Day. Josh (trail name "Milkrun"), Trevor ("Crunchmaster"), and Matt (no trail name yet) are recent high school graduates exploring the AT, their own understandings of our world, and themselves. All three keep some sort of journal--Trevor's is extensive and found online (Trevor a.k.a., Crunchmaster's AT Journal website) (Trevor's AT Hike on Facebook) while Matt and Josh keep handwritten journal books.

As of this morning, the three are staying an extra day because they've been asked by the Maine Warden's Service to supply any information they may have about about a lost hiker. The young men left at 5:30 this Sunday morning for the Command Headquarters with Warden Brock Clukey. They'll hike into the area they believe they may have seen this hiker.    
Drying boots on Zero Day

Drying tents
Matt jotting thoughts in his Trail Journal

Matt and Trevor taking in some pinball.

Bailey resting fron all the hubbub of visitors. 
Trail Magic Treats. 
Mud-caked hiking boots. 
Milkrun (a.k.a., Josh) chilling on the side porch during his Zero Day. 

Pizza and Salad. 
5am Breakfast prior to heading out to help
with the Search and Rescue of a lost hiker. 

Seminar in Poetry Writing

Seminar in Poetry Writing 2013
Click on photo to enlarge.
What a fabulous week we spent in Orono. With new friends and old, we wrote, read, discussed, and explored our own poetry and the poems of the masters. How fortunate am I to spend time with such talented and thoughtful people?

Brenda's scrumptious and healthy Oatmeal Cookies

Some of the great books


Poet Deb Rozeboom's agenda

Poet Douglas "Woody" Woodsum's project with his high school students

Jammin' on Wednesday

Every Wednesday during the summer in Orono, musicians put on concerts in Webster Park just up the road from my home. Here, my landlord, friend, and English professor colleague Harvey Kail jams away on his harmonica. He can play.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Hanging with fellow writers at NEWI (7/60)

"The writer is the person 
who stays in the room."
                      --Ron Carlson
Northeast Writing Institute 2013
(click on pictures to expand)
This past 3 days I've worked and written with 10 wonderful writers, including my friend and colleague Kate Kennedy, author of End Over End and More Than Petticoats: Remarkable Maine Women. During our time, we explored ideas, crafted scenes, and slammed words onto the page. We talked books, made lists, shared resources, sketched, asked questions, sought out answers, and read aloud. Some of us whined (Kate and me). For the past 3 days each of us lived the writer's life... and yes, we stayed in the room.

Here's to Ferolyn, Kim, Janet, Sherry, Pete, Ricky, Liz, Gail, Danielle, and Kate... and to the words we all composed.
Ferolyn & Kate

The New Maine Writing Project iWrite t-shirt.

Liz, Ricky, & Ferolyn


Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Rainy hike on Whitecap (6/60)

Waiting for a treat on the Connector Trail
Whitecap 07/09/13. 
We've had pretty poor weather recently: hot, humid, hazy. Today, more rain but a bit cooler. We waited for awhile to see if the rain would stop. It did to a degree, so we headed out at noon-thirty and sloshed our way up the main trail on Whitecap and headed across the Connector Trail. Slippery and a bit mudded, the trail is always a good place when the words of a writing project aren't feeling original, purposeful, or interesting. Then again, writing poorly in first draft ain't half bad. In fact, that's what I normally do. Anyway, good to be out in nature and #6 of 60 is hiking in the rain!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Peepers in Weld

My cousin Ian created a video of spring peepers (tree frogs) at our camps on Lake Webb in Weld (click here and enjoy). The new tree you'll see waiting to be planted is in honor of our sister, Barbara.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Appalachian Trail Section Hiker (5/60)

Today, Bailey and I headed up to Andover to take a short trek on the AT. Before our hike, we met Jeff, a section hiker from Charlotte NC. He's doing a 300-mile section of the trail from Gorham NH to Mt Katahdin ME. A retired CPA who now works in an REI shop in Charlotte, Jeff has been piece-mealing the AT for about a decade. He started off with short hikes of 10 miles and then those hikes grew into 100's and then as he got farther and farther away from North Carolina, he started taking on 300-mile hikes in 3-week blocks. Because of the terrain here in Maine, Jeff said the 300 miles would take him 4 weeks. He should finish the full 2180-mile AT next year.

When we got back to the car, Jeff was still at the trail head trying to hitch hike to Andover where he planned to stay over night at the Pine Ellis Lodge. I offered him a ride down to Andover (#5 of 60 for 60: helping an AT hiker) and quizzed him about the trail. He said the top 3 struggles on the AT for him were 1) getting "into" the hike over the first week; 2) little nagging aches and pains; and 3) the days when he's feeling a bit down and the trail is a struggle. On the up side, he said 1) being in nature with time to think and 2) the surprises he's found while hiking. For example, yesterday he walked through snow in the Mahoosuc Range (now, that is a surprise since we've had weeks of rain and a week of 85-90 degree heat).

Here's to Jeff and his trek!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Meeting an old friend, making a new one (4/60)

In the early 1980s, Bengt Bern of Sweden came to western Maine as an exchange student with the Thompson family of Canton/Dixfield. We met through ski racing. A superb all-around athlete, Bengt ran fall cross-county, skied XC, and played tennis. A year after his exchange, Bengt came to work for me in a summer training camp that I directed. He worked with young athletes, kept up with his own training, and in his spare time, he worked on my house! What a great mentor and role model for younger athletes... and what a terrific worker around my big old house.

Johanna and Bengt Bern visiting Maine, July 2013. 
My brother Rob is visiting for 3 days, and we had the pleasure of welcoming Bengt  and his 19-year-old daughter Johanna to Rumford on July 3rd. Johanna had been as exchange student in the Bangor area a year ago, so during this time in Maine she visited with her host family. Dad and daughter also visited Bengt's family,  the Thompsons, and made a trip over to Rumford to have dinner and reminisce about our times nearly 30 years ago.

A software engineer, Bengt is also a mountaineer who has tackled many of the world's big mountains (photos below). As for Johanna, she is off to college in Stockholm to study medical technology for the next 5 years. She also has an ambition to write.

Father and daughter are easy, interesting people who have ready smiles and inviting ways. They are people you'd like to spend an evening with, or a lifetime. They are interesting, yes, but also interested. They pose questions and share ideas, turning conversations into a tapestry of meaning quite like a 23- year-old's walkabout. Bengt and Johanna take joy in the world around them and use their days...

One of life's gifts--and #4 on my 60 for 60 years old list--is reconnecting with old friends and making new ones. I did that last evening with Bengt and his wonderful daughter Johanna. Here's to their life journeys...and meeting again.
Switzerland 2007

Switzerland 2007

Switzerland 2007

Switzerland 2007

Rich & Bengt, after biking Cadillac Mtn., Bar Harbor, c.1984. 

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Build an Ark

90% of the beach is under water.
We've been living with rain for what seems like the past 19 years. When it's not raining, it's hot and humid, damp and cold. It's time for summer to kick in. Really. My cousin Ian is living in Weld this summer and took these pictures today. It's not exactly an advertisement for summer fun.

A captivating sunset...