A few weeks ago, I embarked on another adventure with the Ells family. This year we visited Maine. I knew nothing about Maine, except for the fact that it is north of Philadelphia and it’s famous for lobster.
The journey began at Philadelphia airport. Zach and I had a 6:10 flight to Boston. We tried to carry our bags on but we were thwarted by security. Our bags were too big and needed to be checked. Let the record show I said they were too big but Zach insisted on carrying them on.
We got to the check-in kiosk and I decided to remove something from my backpack and put it in my luggage. Why? Because I’m an imbecile. We have matching rolley suitcases that my mom gave us for our wedding. They’re the same color, no distinction between the two. I thought I was wheeling mine. With the bag standing straight up, I pulled the zipper and stuffed the extra things in. I tried to zipper it back up with no luck.
“I think I broke it,” I said to Zach.
“Let me see it.”
Zach, being the problem solving engineer that he is, tried to solve the problem with which he was now faced. He tried for a few minutes, his face grew red, his brow furrowed. The zipper had won.
“Yeah, it’s broken,” he said.
“Oh my God, I’m so sorry!”
He of course remained calm while I acted like the world was ending. The top of the bag had an opening big enough for any small thing to fall out of. What’s even worse, we discovered it was his bag.
“It’s just a zipper, no big deal. Let’s hope they have tape.”
We approached the check-in desk and thankfully they had packaging tape. We taped up Zach’s bag and continued on our way to Chickie’s and Pete’s where I lamented about my tragic bag incident as Zach laughed at me.
“Bad start for you on this vacation! What else could happen? You could cause our flight to be delayed, haha.”
Twenty minutes later Zach gets an alert on his phone, our flight was delayed over an hour and 40 minutes. Thankfully, the actual flight went on without a hitch and the remainder of our travel that night was a success.
Saturday in Amesbury we packed up three cars and headed to Maine. The drive was a few hours of which I mostly slept. A moving car is like a sleeping pill to me. Zach sang Taylor Swift to himself and took photos of me while I was sleeping. If you’d like to see that footage, you’ll have to ask him.
We arrived at a campsite in Acadia National Park. Note to reader, the last time I had been camping was with my family when I was very young. We “camped” out back of my aunt’s house. I remember waking up alone in my sleeping bag, wet. My single goal going into the Maine camping trip was to not wake up alone in a pee soaked sleeping bag. Spoiler alert, I did achieve that goal.
I had expected to be setting up the tent in the dirt, but this campsite had platforms. Zach and I set up our tent and secured all the equipment, so we were ready for four nights in the woods. The woods that happened to have a bathroom and shower just down the hill. This was my kind of camping. After setting up, we visited the water near us. It was a beautiful sound, but freezing and filled with giant crabs and hermit crabs. I resisted my slight urge to swim and we watched the crabs fight.
The first night went well. I slept okay and we had a good breakfast the next morning courtesy of Mr. Ells. Camping really wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. Leading up to the trip, my brothers laughed at me saying I wouldn’t be able to handle hiking. As usual, I proved them wrong.
The next day, we visited a trail that surrounded a lake and hiked a mountain called Beech Mountain.It was a beautiful 3 mile hike. It consisted of dirt paths and rocks, but a few parts had long rusted ladders with slim rungs that we had to climb. A bit scary, but I would soon find not the scariest thing I would encounter during the week.
After a successful hike we went swimming in the lake, which to my delight was lukewarm. That night we retreated to our campsite, had a delicious dinner and slept as well as can be expected. Monday morning we arose at 4am. We took to our cars and traveled up Cadillac Mountain to watch the sunrise. Another beautiful sight! There were crowds of people covering the top of the mountain. Even though it was cloudy, the sun did not fail at giving us a good show. The remainder of the day was spent hiking around and we got ice cream sundaes as rewards.
The roughest night of camping was when we had a thunderstorm. Our tent, which was an old tent Zach used during his Eagle Scout days, gave up on us and started leaking during the storm. Zach, being the devout Eagle Scout he is, made every attempt to stop the leaking. He frantically tried to patch things up while I sat covered in my sleeping bag laughing. We ran to one of the cars and stayed in there to wait out the storm. I told him he better remember I’m the best wife ever for not complaining.
On our way to town for dinner one night, we visited Thunder Hole, which is a neat rock formation on the ocean. It was low tide so we didn’t experience much thundering ocean, but we got to climb all over the rocks which was fun.
After Thunder Hole we ate at a lobster place on the water in Bar Harbor. People have asked me since I got back, “Oh, you went to Maine! Did you get lobster?!” Let the record show, I went to Maine and I ate a burger. The rest of the family had seafood and I stayed true to my carnivorous ways. I did however try a piece of Zach’s lobster. It was tasty. He of course ordered the most intense meal, the “Lobster Experience.”
On Wednesday, our camping expedition and our time at Acadia Park was coming to an end. We decided to do the daunting Bee Hive trail before heading to our Cabin a few hours away. My legs were shaking during this one. “Falls on this mountain have resulted in serious injury and death.”
After defeating the beehive, we packed up our camp and headed to Millinocket, Maine where we settled into a cabin on the lake. It was a lovely change from sleeping outside and we were able to enjoy the amenities that being in a house offers, such as a few rounds of Mario Kart. Yes, Zach brought our N64.
Wednesday night we relaxed and watched TV as we discussed our adventure for the next day. We were going to take on Mt. Katahdin in Baxter State Park. Zach’s mom had heard about the trail from a friend. I googled it and looked at some pictures, it appeared to be rather manageable. It did note there was a narrow trail called the Knife’s Edge that we all decided not to tell Zach about because he often wants to do the most frightening things. He of course spotted it immediately on the trail map and urged us all we should do it, but we decided we would avoid it.
The following day began just like any other day, we woke up around 6:30, prepared our packs and hit the road. We arrived at the parking lot just under an hour later. We each took our turn in the outhouse. We were hiking into the wilderness, the only bathroom options were bushes. If you’ve never been in an outhouse, I’ll describe it in one succinct sentence, it’s like being in the scariest scene from a scary movie.
We began our journey at 7:30am, thinking we would complete it by 1pm and be home by the lake by 2pm. The first 3.3 mile jaunt brought us to Chimney Pond elevation 2,914.
From Chimney pond, we checked in at the ranger’s station. “Do you have flashlights?” They asked. I laughed to myself, it’s 8am. It’s not like we’re going to be doing this all day long. We said we all had cell phones that had flashlight apps. “Okay, you’ll use your phones then your battery will die and what will you use to call 911 if you have an emergency?” She did bring up a good point, but how bad could it be? Seemed like a nice day out and this group consisted of intermediate hikers. We thanked them for their advice and headed for Saddle Trail. About a mile into it, I could tell this wasn’t going to be as easy as a hike as we had thought. We encountered rocks, a lot of rocks and on either side of us was pure wilderness. These paths were different than any we hiked before.
We reached the top of Saddle trail, but we weren’t quite finished yet. We still had about a mile to go to reach the summit of Mount Katahdin. During our climb up Saddle trail, the weather began to change. The air became cooler, it began to rain, and my confidence waned. As we reached the top, it was foggy, raining, and at least 2o degrees colder than when we started. We sat and had lunch to refuel for the remainder of the adventure. At this point, I was a little scared, sort of tired, minorly lightheaded. But I and the rest of the group knew we must forge on.
We devoured our peanut butter and fluff sandwiches, strapped on our packs, and moved on. The rain got harder, it felt like hail. The wind picked up and the fog was so thick you could barely see the people ahead of you. My feet were literally barking at me and my shirts were soaked through.The rocks were loose and slippery. The team morale was low, but the desire to conquer the mountain urged us on. At this point, I think I was punch drunk. I was hopping from rock to rock, shaking my head as I climbed. I slipped a few times, but Zach was always nearby to make sure I didn’t completely wipe out. The group got separated through the fog, but we stuck to the buddy system so we each had our partner. Reaching the top was unreal. We had climbed summits earlier in the week and we had done it two years ago in Yosemite. Maybe it was the thick fog and rain, the elevation, or the rocky path, but when we got to the top I felt like we truly conquered a monster.
We celebrated and took numerous photos, reveling in our accomplishment. But, as they say, what goes up, must come down. Leaving the summit seemed pretty quick. Not sure if it was the adrenaline from making it to the top that gave us the extra push or if we were coasting down because of the slippery rocks, but the mile down to Saddle trail went fast.The fog lifted and the rain stopped. We were able to turn around and see what we just did. When we were climbing it, we didn’t get to really see it because of the fog. It was like a new day and we had about another four hours of hiking ahead of us. We took it slow down Saddle Trail, making sure nobody twisted an ankle or broke a leg. We stuck together as a group, slowing down so others could catch up.
We completed Katahdin in just about 9 hours. It was an 11 mile hike. In the words of Kathy Ells, “That was totally insane!” It was insane. It was an insanely cool experience. It was hard, but we did it. Growing up, I never hiked. I didn’t hike until I met Zach. It was always something I wanted to try, but I was never with people who were interested. Life is short and experiences like this are what make it enjoyable and fascinating. When I returned home, my family was amazed at what we had done. They all gushed, “Wasn’t it exhausting?!” It was. It was tiring and crazy, but it was worth it. Standing atop mountain peaks puts life into perspective. To be physically able to climb these rocks and admire the beauty of nature is a blessing. Zach’s mom promised our next family vacation would be more relaxing, possibly a beach. Sounds pretty good to me, but I’ll do another hiking adventure if everyone wants to. After conquering this, I’m game for anything.