Posted on: July 29, 2020
A Weekend in Moosehead Lake
We keep an old wooden wine crate filled with a few just-in-case items in the back of the Subaru; a hatchet, pair of work gloves, foldable saw, a Maine atlas, some flashlights, and first aid gear. My girlfriend Amy jokes at times that we’ve luckily never needed the saw—until we did. On an old dirt logging access road somewhere between Kokadjo and Greenville we snagged a small felled tree under the car and cut it lose while nervously chuckling at our luck. About twenty minutes later, in the early evening mist overlooking a chilly bog, we saw Amy’s first moose. We chuckled, again, at our luck. Amy’s hey-that’s-a-moose-WOW-it’s-HUGE dance got some curious looks from the two other groups observing until I whispered that it was her first sighting and then a quorum of smiles emerged.
I hadn’t been to Moosehead since a childhood trip with my parents somewhere around 25 years ago and Amy had yet to explore this part of the state. We learned, gleefully and covered in sweat, that when the pavement ends and the way ahead gets mucky and bumpy and a bit more wild—that’s where the good stuff starts. When I was eight years old, here the first time, I probably knew that instinctively. Showing someone you love a place like Moosehead—looking for its secrets and hidden beauties—reminds you of intrinsic truths long forgotten.
We stayed in a cabin at Wilsons near Greenville; between hikes and drives and lunches at the Stress Free Moose we sat out on the dock over the lake with a bottle of wine and old vintage wildlife printed glasses from the cabin’s cupboard. One night a member of the Wilson family dropped a bundle of birch wood at our cabin and we built a fire looking out over the lake and let our sore feet rest. We grilled our dinner, planned our next day, and watched a symphony of sunset hues put themselves to bed over the glass-like surface of the lake in the evening calm. When the fire died down the Neowise comet began a slow rise over the North woods and we returned to the dock. Amy and I are both still, sometimes, re-learning how to not live in the city—NYC, Boston, and Washington, DC between us—and the lack of light pollution was striking. The shape and reach of the Milky Way was fully visible and it reminded us both of planetarium field trips and summer family outings.
The best adventures along Maine’s coast and trails and woods and waters all have one feature in common: they remind me of my own wonderment and curiosity as a child. I do my best to lean into that feeling, to share it, to have it be part of every hike and camping trip and beachside fire. Our getaway to Moosehead Lake and our backroad mischief on the lookout for Amy’s first moose made it easy. Anytime we feel detached from that sense of wonder and need to be reminded—we’ll be back at Moosehead.
Photos by Justin Smulski, Tide to Pine Creative
Justin and his girlfriend Amy travel around the state of Maine in search of outdoor adventures. You can follow along on their adventures on their Instagram channels – @tidetopine and @thetipsynewenglander