My 14-year-old son took the photo of me. I feel most myself in the mountains or by the sea. My make up was the flush of the climb. We were joking over NOT taking a step backwards. Our expedition was my son’s idea. He chose the hikes, ordered the maps and even found an inn that would take our dog.
When I was 20, I spent a month living in a tent and backpacking in the Wind Rivers Range of Wyoming. After the trails these days, I want wine with my dinner, a hot bath, a comfortable bed and a full cooked breakfast.
L’Auberge Country Inn and Bistro in Bethel provided it all.
Our room was most unusual. At one point it had been a theater complete with stairs leading to a Juliet style balcony. Now a four-poster takes center stage. There were 2 closet-come-bedrooms, a kitchen and a full bathroom. The food was satisfying, especially the goat cheese and caramelized onion tart. I caught up on sleep.
Bethel even has an internet café, The Mouse and Bean. My son checked the radar on our one rainy morning. Our young forecaster was spot on.
The rain cleared for our hike up Blueberry Mountain. The photo is of the part before it gets steep. My kids and dog bounded up the rocky face on all fours like mountain goats. “Scrambling” is what that type of hiking/climbing without ropes is called. Terrifying is what I’d call it. I couldn’t bear to look down until we reached the summit.
Was it worth it? Check out the view here and in my opening shot.
I’ve never seen so many leaves peaking all at once. The blueberry bushes turn bright red in autumn, offset by the grey-green lichen.
We hiked up the White Cairn Trail and down the Stone House Trail, which was opposite from what John Gibson’s 50 Hikes in Coastal and Southern Maine recommended. Looking at the close contour lines, we decided it would be better on my bad knees to go up the steepest way. At 1,400 feet Blueberry Mt. is one of the smaller mountains in the park. The White Mountain National Forest stretches from Maine to New Hampshire.
I’ve seen crowds of leaf peepers in New Hampshire. In Maine we rarely encounter a soul on the trails. It’s so quiet but for the wind in the trees or a gurgle of a stream, and, oh yeah, the kids chatting. We didn’t see much wildlife, curiously.
On Deer Hill Road near North Lovell there is a wonderful blind for viewing (not shooting!) beavers, but you need to come at dawn or dusk to see them in action.
I noticed a political divide in the mountains. The few houses with year-round residents (as opposed to luxurious summer cottages) had McCain signs in their yards. All the parked cars at the trailheads had Obama stickers; most had Maine plates. On the more densely populated coast you see mostly Obama signs.
Maine is an unusual state. We have just two congressional districts, and we are one of only two states that can split our electoral college vote in presidential elections. Maine is expected to vote Democrat for the presidency even though we have two Republican senators, both moderately liberal women. Mainers are strong individuals.
Single Pole Mountain in South Paris is a good hike to break up the 2 hour drive from the White Mountains back to the coast. The leaves were just gorgeous on this easy trail.
Wind ripples made an abstract painting in an old quarry pond.
Golden leaves against the blue sky became a Japanese woodblock print.
From the summit we viewed purple mountain majesties. Those are the White Mountains. They will be snow white only too soon.
We lay on our backs to admire the perfect sky.
The leaves glowed in the late afternoon light. It was the end of the trail.
After the excitement of selling a painting at the 10X10 Art Show followed by this fun 4-day weekend, I was having trouble getting back to work on my novel. I love working for myself at home, but it requires motivation and discipline. It can get lonely. I was chatting about this with author Jane Green, and we made a pact to write a chapter on Monday and check in later. It worked so well for both of us that we did the same thing yesterday. NOT CRICKET is back on track. Thanks, Jane!
Andrew Sullivan has a really good article in The Atlantic Monthly on “Why I Blog.” Andrew is a political journalist and was one of the first bloggers. He taught me political theory at college and was one of the best teachers I’ve ever had. Andrew was also at Oxford with my husband in the 1980’s. It’s a small blog world.
Dave at Home Garden is hosting an on-going Fall Color Project. Check it out for more foliage.