In the summer of 1953, my father and I went to Mount Katahdin, the highest mountain in the state of Maine. His objective was to have a good day of fishing for trout in that area. My objective was to climb the mountain. It was a beautiful day as we set up our World War I tent in the campground there.
Dad said there was a forecast for possible rain. "If it does rain," he said, "don't touch the tent fabric."
We gave a nibble of food to a lame deer that was wandering through the campground and then set out for our respective goals.
The Baxter Trail started from the campground, and that's the one I took. The mountain was 5,200 feet high, a single granite monolith that came into existence about 400 million years ago in a relatively flat area with no other mountains nearby. The trail started gently in a dry stream bed. As I climbed further through the tall trees, it became steeper and steeper. The stream bed was filled with rough blocks of stone. The day became overcast, and it began to rain. The stream bed developed a trickle of water, and I tried to avoid getting wet.
About two-thirds of the way up the mountain, I came to a plateau above the tree line, which rose gently to the summit of the mountain. Because the rain had developed into a downpour, it became more and more difficult to see the painted white blazes on stones that marked the trail, but I never lost my way. Finally, I reached the top and found a small shed with a logbook in it where I signed my name and date to establish the fact that I had, indeed, climbed the mountain. There were comments in the log about the spectacular views other climbers had seen. I was uncertain what to write because I was in a dense cloud and could see virtually nothing.
When I reached the bottom of the mountain again, I was soaking wet. Dad was already there and was dressing the mess of trout he had caught. Much to his chagrin, I touched the tent while changing clothes and created a steady leak under which we put a bucket.
We ate our supper under the fly at the open end of the tent. Potatoes and trout fried over an open fire with bits of salt pork and hot coffee are hard to top. It was a satisfying end for a challenging but pleasurable day for both of us. Events like this are what bring fathers and sons close.
In the summer of 1998, my cousins, Martin and Bob, who live in Maine, invited us to visit them. They both had summer places along the southwest shore of Moosehead Lake. We were there about a week, and while we were there we took a drive around the circumference of the 30-mile-long lake.
The northern half of that dirt road was through land owned by a paper company. It is called the Great North Woods. From it, the company cuts wood used to make paper.
We ate lunch at an old woodsman's camp that has become a tourist attraction. It is a large house where they grow fresh vegetables and maintain livestock for fresh milk, eggs and meat. Meals are served family-style, and there was a crowd of people, though it seemed a remote and isolated place.
Another adventure we had while in the Moosehead Lake area was to get tickets for my wife, son, grandson and me to ride on a single engine float plane scheduled to fly northeast up to the face of Mount Katahdin. We saw many unused wooden fire towers, which had been costly to maintain, so the park service now employed planes like this to fulfill the same function.
We flew over a multitude of ponds. In some of them we saw moose swimming and eating water lilies. The land below looked like a checkerboard because of the paper company's clear cutting of the trees. In about 45 minutes, we flew by the face of Mount Katahdin, and it was then that I finally saw the grandeur of the view from the mountain.