A Breath Of Fresh Air

August 05 2014

We packed in a rush, cramming the car with what seemed like much more than a weekend's worth of food, clothes, and bedding. I forgot the pillows. And some other things. EEC remembered flashlights, saving the day.

Somehow, despite clear schedules and good weather, we were leaving an hour and a half later than I wanted to be leaving, late, and grumpier than should be allowed on days-off. 

But on the highway — driving north, passing Bangor — this haze of the week and the packing, of everything really, seemed to lift. And then we were at the Katahdin Lookout, pulling over, taking a break, happy to be in the North. 

I've stopped at this lookout dozens of times. The view doesn't change, but the mountain is just so impressive that it deserves pause.  And, more than anything, stopping off means that vacation has properly started. 

Baxter State Park is way up there. North and more north. We cross the line into the County, then the pavement ends, we're in the park, and life is perfect.

We hike North Traveler, a mountain with more false peaks than any other I've ever climbed. Without advance knowledge, this is frustrating. But when you know that each lookout will reveal one beyond, you can just go with the flow. Climb, rest, and climb again.

Below, South Branch Pond is deep and blue. Swimmers and boaters dot the water, and in the heat of the July sun, their choice to stay down at the lake seems like a good one.

Down from the mountain, we take a load off, dangling toes in the water. We eat our supper. And when it gets dark, we build up the fire a little higher. Any responsibilities will have to wait until we get home.

What if we could keep a cabin somewhere up here? Move north for the summers, and fill our days with mountains and lakes. Leave our phones and our computers in the south, and read all the books we've been meaning to read? Our days would be full enough.

Maybe someday.

For now though, there are emails to answer, work to do. We can't stay in the park forever.

But we can stay long enough, this last morning, to make some pancakes on the fire. That's something we won't do again for a while.

—MAC