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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The delight of Mount Kineo


There is no place on earth quite like Mount Kineo. If you have never been, it really is difficult to explain what makes it so unique, even the air smells different on Kineo. Since I had yet to make the trek over this year, the enthusiasm of an old college friend amped me up for a trip over to this one of a kind Peninsula. Before this weekend, I had never camped overnight on Kineo, so I knew this was going to be a treat.

                                                                             MEET ME!!
AND.... MY FRIENDS!


We started our journey traveling to Rockwood from Greenville, to the Kineo shuttle, which is the best way to get over to Kineo. You can also drive up the West side of the lake, but the road isn’t always in the best of conditions, and it is about a two-mile walk in from where the parking area is located. If you take the shuttle, you are dropped off right in between the hiking trails, and the golf course clubhouse. Of course, if you’re one of those lucky people who own a boat, you can always take your boat over, as there are plenty of places to dock your boat. We aren’t part of that lucky group, so we piled our gear onto the shuttle to start our day on Kineo.  I could tell our small group of four was already shaking off some stress as we approached our destination. We reached the Peninsula around 1pm on Saturday, with what we thought would be plenty of time to hike into camp, get set up, and hike to the top of the mountain, but our timing was a little off. Okay, maybe a lot off. Despite what we thought, our hike into our camping spot on hardscrabble was more like a 3-mile hike down the carriage trail, not a mile, as we originally suspected.

With excitement to get set up, and far more gear than we would need for our one night stay, we began our hike into our campsite. We were fairly fast moving at first, but with a cooler packed with food, weighing at least 60 pounds (this is a total guess) Our three mile hike down the carriage trail quickly turned into an experience we all were ready to put behind us. Thankfully, we are a group of optimistic people who make the best out of any situation, bad, good, or indifferent. So with smiles wide, we continued down the trail for as long as we could, though truth be told, about a quarter of a mile away from our campsite on hardscrabble, Tom and I set the cooler down on the trail and booked it to our campsite. At this point, my hands felt like wet noodles, only throbbing, so we didn’t really have a choice. At first we were a bit apprehensive because I mean, what if someone were to steal it? After all, we did plan on going back for it. We figured they could give it a go, but worse case scenario was that they were just going to lug it a bit closer to our site before they gave up, deciding it wasn’t worth the effort.

We made it to the site, though Bree had left her phone at the clubhouse to allow it to charge, which we later learned closed at 5. This meant that she had to walk the 2.7 miles back to the clubhouse, and 2.7 miles back to get her phone before we could even begin our hike. At this point, it was around 3:30pm. Yes, it took us about two and a half hours to get to our site, bear in mind that we had a cooler the size and weight of a large dog with us on the way in. We made a decision as a group to split up; Bree and I would venture back to the clubhouse to grab her phone, while Tom and Mandi ventured back to the cooler to carry it the rest of the way.

Bree and I entered the clubhouse around 4:30, and met a very sweet young lady named Justine (which I remember so well because Justine is my sister’s name). She talked about how dramatic the community on Kineo can be at times. Though I have always known that there were homes on Kineo, I never really thought of it as a community. Even though people only live there in the summer, of course there is drama! She talked about “the association” and talked about how all of the kids on the island dare each other to sleep up on the fire tower. This was so fun to me, and was reminiscent of so many novels I read in my youth. Bree and I polished off a refreshing beverage before we skipped back down the carriage trail, back to hardscrabble.

By the time we made it back to our campsite, it was nearing six o’clock. Tom and Mandi had set the campsite up, but at this point, we were all starving. We once again made the decision as a group to cook up some grub, and pass on anymore hiking for the time being. At that point, Bree and I had already put in nine miles, because this is the first hike I had done since the unfortunate event with my ankle, I was alright with relaxing for the evening. We got a fire going, and threw a pork tenderloin and some hot dogs on the fire and started in on the shmorgishborg of smuttynose beer we had going on. Tom works for Smuttynose brewing company, so you can always bank on plenty of beer being figured into the equation whenever he’s around.
Because of the weight of the cooler, we all decided that no beer or food was coming back with us, which meant we would be doing a lot of eating and drinking, this turned a s’mores session into a one of a kind taste testing session, leading us to discover some amazing combos. The favorite of the night we have deemed cheesecake s’mores, which is just a s’more with a chunk or two of cheddar cheese, talk about heaven! For all of you cynics, don’t knock it until you try it, the flavor is out of this world.
After our feast, we traveled out to the point to enjoy some star gazing, where we discovered that directly across the lake, at The Birches Resort, there was a wedding reception happening. Every pop song you can imagine from the last two decades blared across the lake, echoing late into the night. Usually this would be more of a hindrance than anything, however, we all reminisced as we jammed out to songs such as “No Diggity”, it was almost delightful.

We all stayed up too late, and enjoyed far too many adult beverages, but everyone needs to kick back on occasion. The next morning, slow moving, we began to pack up our things with heavy hearts. I believe all four of us could have benefited from another night or three in this magical world.

Unfortunately, it was back to reality for all of us. Looking at the large amount of food we didn’t consume, we were all less than enthusiastic about hiking the 2.7 miles to the shuttle with all of that gear. Luckily, strangers often become friends. There was a family camping at the first campsite you approach off of the carriage trail, and had a boat! He was more than generous, and allowed us to load up far more gear than his little motorboat probably should have been hauling. Tom climbed aboard, and planned on meeting us at the Indian Trail trailhead. We saw Tom off with our new found friend, as we began the trek, with much less gear in hand, to the trailhead. Apparently we were just not meant to do too much hiking on this adventure, because after waiting ten or fifteen minutes, it became apparent that Tom was not on the same page as us. We began the rest of our trek back to the landing, where we met up with Tom. Not only did our new friend haul our gear for us, but he and Tom actually brought it back to mainland and packed up the car for us! This is why Tom left us waiting at the trailhead. It felt nice to know that once we got off of the shuttle, we could just jump in our cars and head back to Greenville, as much as we didn’t want to leave, even though we didn't get the hiking in we had so hoped for.
Since we didn’t have time to do the hiking we had planned, we decided a visit to pebble beach was necessary before we were brought back to reality. I was slightly disappointed with pebble. Though the rope swing was still there, it seems as though the beach has fallen to the wayside. I remember as a teenager spending many sunny days with the Rockwood crew out on pebble beach, it was the beach to frequent. This trip down memory lane left me longing for long summer days from summer’s past.  It is still a nice beach, but it has become apparent that people don’t appreciate it as they used to. I was picking through the rocks, trying to find white ones, as my daughter is a collector of the white rock kind. As I dug around my fingers came across something all too man-made, as I pulled a snickers wrapper out from underneath a number of rocks. It’s sad to see such a magnificent place become so underappreciated. I’m hoping some changes can be made in that regard, because the atmosphere just wasn’t the same.

Our voyage back to the landing was somber in demeanor, as we shuffled our feet, knowing we would soon be leaving our kind of paradise. It was a quiet shuttle ride back to main land, as we knew we would be parting ways, not only with each other, but also with an atmosphere of utopia. Before parting ways, we decided on one last stop, before everyone had to journey home. As I had mentioned, Tom works for Smuttynose Brewing Company, so he was beyond thrilled to check out the Stress Free Pub, which has Smuttynose’s finestkind IPA on tap. We stopped for a quick bit to eat, and one last frosty beverage.
Parting ways with two old college friends, and one new friend was difficult, as I’ve missed the carefree days we all used to spend together. Though we have all gone our separate ways, some more grown up than others, it’s fantastic that we can get together, years later, and still enjoy a carefree day or two together, before stepping back into reality. I promise my friends, if you ever need an escape from the real world, take a trip over to one of my favorite places in our Great Northern Maine Woods, Mount Kineo does not disappoint. Until next time, go find an adventure; I would love to hear about it!

Amber

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