Maine Outdoor Adventure Club encourages networking and new friendships
Headed outdoors? Want some company? Members of the Maine Outdoor Adventure Club can always find someone with whom to hit the trails and waterways of the Pine Tree State.
“MOAC is a member-driven organization,” said the group’s president, Jeffery Berry of South Portland. “It’s really based off what people want to do.”
The organization itself hosts four events annually, one each quarter.
“That’s just a chance for members to get to see each other in a group setting,” said Berry, emphasizing that most of the club’s activities are organized by its approximately 700 members. Anyone who wants to plan a trip can post details on the members-only portion of the group’s website at moac.org. Other members can then join in.
“The members who post make the decision on where they want to go,” said Berry, who joined the group about a year ago.
“The key thing is [MOAC] just gets me more active and out with like-minded individuals,” said Berry, who participated in a canoeing trip in Machias recently. “I got to have people in my canoe that I might not have met otherwise.”
He described the club as an activities and social group that aims to get people outdoors.
“We’re a social club with a hiking problem,” he quipped.
Of course, the group’s activities are not limited to hiking.
“Our outdoor activities range from peaceful and relaxing to challenging and full of excitement,” states the website. “From the extremes of winter camping, ice/rock climbing, strenuous hiking, mountain biking, whitewater kayaking, to the gentle sail, walk or snowshoe, MOAC has something to offer everyone.”
The group was originally founded in 1989 and ran operated through the magazine Casco Bay Weekly. Though the magazine no longer exists, the club has survived and gone digital.
More than half of the group’s membership is retired, said Berry, though the organization is not specifically geared toward older folks. Many younger people join, but get sidetracked by work and family obligations.
“Life keeps getting in the way,” he said. “We’d like to attract more younger folks.”
Most MOAC members also live in southern Maine. In addition to organized annual activities and member-led trips, the group hosts monthly meetings in Portland. About 50 people typically attend these meetings, which include speakers discussing topics ranging from outdoor cooking to first aid.
Membership is $20 annually for an individual and $30 for a family. It includes full access to the website, where members can organize trips and chat, as well as access to the MOAC library, which includes reviews and how-to guides. It also includes a monthly emailed newsletter, discounts, voting privileges and even what the website describes as a “nifty” car decal.
For those who want to know more, the monthly meetings are open to the public as are some of activities, such as films devoted to conservation topics, trail maintenance days, a fall foliage paddle and winter activities.
— Text: Johanna S. Billings. Johanna is an avid hiker as well as an award-winning writer and photographer. She is based in Steuben.
Hikes & Brews: Borestone Mountain and The Lakeshore House
Borestone Mountain Audubon Sanctuary is a 1,693-acre wildlife preserve in Elliotsville owned and managed by Maine Audubon. The Base and Summit trails combine to guide hikers up the craggy twin peaks of Borestone Mountain, which rises prominently to 1,981 feet.
Make the two-mile climb (one-way) to enjoy spectacular views northward over Onawa Lake to Baker Mountain and the rugged ridgeline of the Barren-Chairback Range, and beyond into the famed 100-Mile Wilderness. Halfway along the route is Sunrise Pond, one of three ponds high on the mountain, and the Robert T. Moore Nature Center, which features wildlife exhibits and displays on the interesting history of the property. Short side trails from the center lead to more pond vistas and to the remains of an old fox farm.
The Lakeshore House is a fun-and-friendly place with a lively atmosphere right in the heart of the pretty little village of Monson, perfect for enjoying cold beer and good food alongside local patrons, travelers and Appalachian Trail hikers. Eight taps range from Pabst Blue Ribbon to Guinness, with six rotating microbrews between, plus there’s a fine selection of bottled brews. Settle in at the bar or relax outside on the shore of Lake Hebron, known for its beautiful sunsets. The menu is deliciously eclectic and the portions are appropriately hiker-sized. On Thursday nights and Sundays, the house vibrates with the sounds of talented musicians. Owner Rebekah Anderson’s best advice for visiting this great little pub: “If you’re in a hurry, this is not the place to be.”
Hike: Borestone Mountain Sanctuary
www.maineaudubon.org, 207-717-6001 (June -September), 207-781-2330 (October – May)
Brew: The Lakeshore House, thelakeshorehouse.com, 207-997-7069
— Text & Photos: Carey Kish of Mt. Desert Island. Carey is an avid beer drinker, editor of the AMC Maine Mountain Guide, and author of AMC’s Best Day Hikes Along the Maine Coast.
Hikes & Brews: Klondike Mountain Preserve & Lubec Brewing
The 46-acre Klondike Mountain Preserve is home to the namesake mountain as well as some 3,600 feet of saltwater shorefront on South Bay, an arm that’s part of Cobscook Bay. Summit views from diminutive Klondike Mountain (150 ft.) offer a delightfully beautiful panorama of the Lubec landscape, the easternmost town in the U.S. From the North Lubec Road trailhead, Klondike Mountain Trail wanders through old pastures and an orchard. Explore the spur path to Fowler’s Mill Pond before climbing to the craggy outlooks atop the twin peaks of Klondike Mountain, which is thought to have gotten its name during the Great Gold Swindle of Lubec, a scandalous hoax to extract gold from seawater perpetrated by strangers from away in 1897. The hike is an easy one-mile jaunt.
Nuclear physicist-turned-brewer Gale White fell in love with the Maine coast while on vacation and never looked back. Opened in 2015 on the downtown waterfront, Lubec Brewing is a welcoming place with big picture windows that frame Lubec Narrows and New Brunswick, Canada’s Campobello Island. Settle in on a comfy couch with a pint of Quoddy Head Red, the most popular brew and one of five classic German-style beers regularly on tap, among the many experimental beers White likes to make (some 23 different brews in 2017). Everything on the food menu is organic and locally grown as far as possible, which changes all of the time, but you can always count on the sourdough pizza, the pub’s specialty. Relax in the salty atmosphere, play a board game, and listen to talented area musicians most nights.
Hike: Downeast Coastal Conservancy
Brew: Lubec Brewing Company
Lubec Brewing Company on Facebook 207-733-4555
— Text: Carey Kish of Mt. Desert Island. Carey is an avid beer drinker, editor of the AMC Maine Mountain Guide, and author of AMC’s Best Day Hikes Along the Maine Coast.
Maine Track Club’s Turkey Trot 5K Turns 50
The Maine Track Club Turkey Trot 5K will take place on Sunday, November 18, 2018. This will be the 50th anniversary of the race, making it one of the oldest 5Ks in the State of Maine.
Dick Goodie founded the race in 1969 and was the Race Director until handing it off to the Maine Track Club in 1978. The Turkey Trot was inducted into the Maine Running Hall of Fame in 2014. In 2015, it was the Road Runners Club of America (RRCA) Eastern Regional 5K Championship and in 2013 was the RRCA Maine State 5K Championship. The Turkey Trot also had the distinction in 2012 of being the inaugural celebratory 5K of Girls on the Run – Maine.
The Turkey Trot has averaged 740 registered runners over the past six years with a peak of 840 registered runners in 2013. The race is capped at 1,000 registered runners.
The USATF certified course starts at the Cape Elizabeth High School and initially runs through the center of Cape Elizabeth. After leaving the center of town the course runs downhill and then through several neighborhoods before heading back uphill to the Cape Elizabeth Middle School for the finish.
The course records for the Turkey Trot belong to Ethan Hemphill who ran 15:24 in 2004 and Emily Durgin who ran 16:51 in 2016.
The beneficiary of the Turkey Trot is Wayside Food Programs. Wayside is a major distributor of surplus meals and provider of community meals to those in need in the greater Portland area. Over the past six years the Turkey Trot has contributed $19,000 and collected 11,500 lbs. of food for Wayside. This is the equivalent of serving 22,000 meals to those less fortunate during the holiday season.
The race would not be possible without its sponsors. The presenting sponsor of the Turkey Trot is Fleet Feet Maine Running. Other race sponsors are Hannaford Supermarket, Target, Poland Springs and Cape Integrated Health.
The Turkey Trot is truly a community event as every year there are two dozen volunteers from Cape Elizabeth High School who help with the Kid’s Fun, water station, flagging and finish line water.
For more information, visit the Turkey Trot 5k on Facebook.
Dick is the author of The Maine Quality of Running, a book about Maine’s rich heritage of runners. Published in 1984, it is a timeless read for anyone interested in the sport and history of Maine running.
Take a Monumental Trip to Katahdin Woods & Waters
If you want to get away from it all, consider a trip to the new Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument.
This location in Penobscot County, established by former President Barack Obama in August 2016, offers few of the amenities of modern life. You will find no large shopping centers and cell service will be spotty at best. On the other hand, it’s the perfect spot for the person whose ideal vacation is to spend the day in nature without seeing another person. Because of its remote location, there’s a good chance you will get to see wildlife during your visit.
Recently, the Katahdin monument was in danger of having its designation rescinded following the Trump administration’s scrutiny of 27 of the nation’s national monuments.
However, the U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said in late 2017 he would not recommend eliminating any of the 27 national monuments.
Katahdin is part of a large region of conserved land offering hiking and other outdoor activities. You could easily spend an entire vacation exploring just the national monument and experience only a fraction of what the 87,563 acres have to offer. If you want to cover more ground, you can visit the adjacent Baxter State Park, land owned by the Nature Conservancy or the North Woods, all of which also offer a plethora of outdoor activities.
Katahdin’s main draw is the fact that it is still totally undeveloped. At this time, there is no park office or ranger station, and no restaurants, snack bars or even little stores on the property yet. Millinocket is the last town before you enter true wilderness. Be sure to pack your lunch, plenty of water and anything else you might need for a day. If you forget something, you’ll just have to do without or lose the better part of the day going back for it.
Admission to the monument is currently free. Access to Baxter State Park is free for Maine residents but non-residents will have to pay a $15 entrance fee per vehicle. Access to the North Woods is $10 per person per day for Maine residents and $15 per person per day for non-residents.
Whichever area you visit, home base will most likely be Millinocket, which offers lodging, including hotels and cabins, as well as restaurants. Perhaps the most famous of the eateries is the Appalachian Trail Cafe, a favorite stop among AT through- hikers. The AT includes approximately 30 miles through the national monument before it ends at the adjacent Baxter State Park. Trail hikers are allowed to sign the cafe ceiling tiles to celebrate their accomplishment and the restaurant offers some souvenirs. A couple of gift shops and information centers are located in town for more souvenirs and to help you plan your days.
From Millinocket, you will need about an hour to drive to the Katahdin Loop Road, a 14-mile unpaved loop that offers scenic lookouts and access to trails. Start by taking Route 11, a.k.a the Katahdin Woods & Waters Scenic Byway, until you reach a dirt logging road called Swift Brook Road. You will follow this for 12 miles before you actually reach the monument and the loop road. Be aware that logging trucks have the right of way on these roads, so go slow and always let them pass.
One of the nicest trails in the area of the Monument is Barnard Mountain, a 2.3-mile trail with spectacular views of Mount Katahdin, Katahdin Lake and beyond. The trailhead is located just off the Katahdin Loop Road before mile marker 12. From there, you must hike a mile or two down a logging trail in order to reach the actual Barnard Mountain trail. At the end of the hike, you will reach a picnic table perched on a rock and an overlook of the woods and waters in the distance. You may even see moose near the summit where they hang out in the summer.
For more information on how to plan your trip, visit nps.gov/kaww/planyourvisit/index.htm.
For more information about the Barnard Mountain Trail visit: mainetrailfinder.com/trails/trail/barnard-mountain-trail
— Text & Photos: Johanna S. Billings. Johanna is a nationally award-winning writer and photographer based in Steuben. She enjoys going to remote areas for hiking vacations planned by her husband, Sean.
The Maine Sculpture Trail
If you’re looking for a way to enjoy the outdoors that isn’t too strenuous, consider the Maine Sculpture Trail, an art installation along almost 300 miles of the Maine Coast.
The trail consists of 34 granite sculptures made by artists from all over the world. These artists came to Down East Maine, during the Schoodic International Sculpture Symposium in 2007, 2009, 2011, 2012 and 2014.
Steuben resident Jesse Salisbury was the driving force behind the creation of the trail. He organized the symposium as a way to spark cultural activity in the area and, in the process, created a large, public art collection.
Washington County is home to 10 of the sculptures. In geographic order, they are found in Steuben, Milbridge, Harrington, Addison, Jonesport, Roque Bluffs, Machias, Lubec, Eastport and Calais.
Most of them are easily accessed from Route 1, a.k.a., the Bold Coast Scenic Byway. Following the trail gives you a chance to get off the beaten path and see the towns and villages along the coast that you might otherwise miss. The Steuben sculpture is located at the Henry D. Moore Library and Parish House, just a hop, skip and a jump from Route 1. History buffs can also visit a Civil War monument nearby.
The sculpture in Milbridge is located at the end of School Street, along the Narraguagus River. Enjoy the view from Adirondack chairs situated next to the sculpture. Those up for a short walk can take a stroll through Riverside Park.
Fuel up with breakfast at the Milbridge House. Then, enjoy a meal later in the day at Deano’s Takeout, Vazquez Mexican Takeout, The Wheelhouse or the Good N Plenty Buffet. The Meadow’s Takeout in Steuben offers excellent fare as well. Overnight accommodations are available at the Red Barn Motel in Milbridge.
From Milbridge, take Route 1A to the next sculpture, located inside a paved walking track next to the Harrington Health Center. It can be seen from the highway or you can park and enjoy a walk around the loop.
Many of the sculptures are located on the water. In Addison Point Park, you can see the sculpture as well as a lovely view of the Pleasant River. The next one, located in a Jonesport town park, also overlooks the water. After that, visit the sculpture in Roque Bluffs State Park, where you can enjoy hiking, swimming and picnicking.
In Machias, look for the sculpture on the campus of the University of Maine at Machias. While you’re in town, explore the waterfall and grounds at Bad Little Falls Park.
Machias offers numerous options for food and lodging. Restaurant options include Helen’s, the Bluebird Ranch, Skywalker’s/Machias River Brewing and Pat’s Pizza. You can stay at the Machias River Inn or the Bluebird Motel.
The sculpture in Lubec is situated in Stockford Park, just outside of town. In the background, you can see the bridge from Lubec to Campobello Island, New Brunswick. Lubec is also home to the Lost Fishermen’s Memorial, which Salisbury was commissioned to create. For good food and cold brews, the main attraction is Lubec Brewing Co., which opens at 2 p.m. Thurs-Sun and serves dinner, starting at 5 p.m.
Taking the trip to Eastport may seem far off off the beaten path, but the drive is worth it. To reach the Eastport sculpture, turn off Route 1 onto Route 190 and follow that for about seven miles into town. The sculpture is downtown, in the midst of a quaint shopping district overlooking the water. There, you can catch several other sculptures, including one of a mermaid.
Then, from there head back up to Calais up to Route 1, where the sculpture is located downtown in front of the library. Visitors can check out the antique shops downtown as well as Wabanaki Culture Center, which illustrates how the Native Americans of the area have lived in the outdoors.
Salisbury worked with writers and photographers to produce the book, Creating the Maine Sculpture Trail: Legacy of the Schoodic International Sculpture Symposium. The book, which covers the history of the trail, is available for sale at schoodicsculpture.org. Sculpture maps can also be downloaded from this site.
— Text & photos: Johanna S. Billings. Johanna is an award-winning writer/photographer and antiques dealer based in Steuben. She enjoys visiting the sculptures along the trail.
Forest Therapy: An Ancient Ritual for Modern-Day Mindfulness
Today, human beings are more detached from nature than ever before. It is vital that we find ways to keep that connection alive in our modern world and Forest Therapy is one way of doing just that.
In the past few years, Forest Therapy has piqued the interest of many healthcare practitioners and nature lovers. It is admired for its health benefits and the ease with which it aids people in reconnecting with nature. The practice found its conception in Japan under a different name. Shinrin-Yoku, or “Forest Bathing” as it translates, has been prescribed to folks in Japan for several decades with the support of the government. Shinrin-Yoku was founded under the intuitive belief that spending time in nature is good for our health. Since its first appearance in the Japanese healthcare system, it has caught the attention of the world and has spread its roots to many other countries, undergoing much research to prove its benefits. Studies have shown that spending up to an hour in nature reduces the stress hormone cortisol, meaning participants of a forest therapy walk usually leave feeling a sense of improved health and a positive change in mood overall.
Forest Therapy Walks, as they are known in the States, support health, happiness, and well -being, through reconnection with nature. Walks are intended to promote wellness through a series of slow-paced sensory-awareness and mindfulness practices where guides invite participants to interact with nature in new ways. Forest Therapy is unique in that it can’t be characterized as “therapy” or “outdoor recreation” in any traditional sense. It is a practice of slowing down, unplugging and wandering through nature as a means to deepen connections, open and answer questions, and revitalize each individual’s life-force. Unlike a hike or outdoor adventure class, this is a practice in simply observing and does not require any naturalist training or outdoor experience. As one wanders, nature may provide the therapy they seek. The guide does not act as a therapist but is merely there to open the door to one’s connection with nature.
As the practice emerges in the United States, organizations such as the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy are working hard to inform people of this exciting new field of wellness. ANFT is training new guides each year, currently certifying hundreds of practitioners across the country and the world at large. Guides have incredibly varying occupations and experience; from nurses to farmers, artists to bushcrafters, folks from all age groups and all walks of life. Under ANFT’s guidelines, a full Forest Therapy Walk consists of several guided invitations; beginning by opening the senses, then moving through and interacting with nature in a mindful way, and ending with a light council, where participants reflect on their experiences as they enjoy freshly foraged tea. Each walk lasts two to three hours, and are led with the intent of being safe and as accessible as possible while maintaining the Leave No Trace principle.
If the sound of a walk interests you, the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy has a Guide Locator Map with a growing database of guides around the globe. Find a guide near you and learn more about the walks they provide. No matter what environment you are in, there is always something positive to be gained from spending a little time outside.
— Photos and Text: Mishka Viscardi. Mishka is an ANFT certified practitioner and founder of Ravyn Walks, a guided forest therapy service in Western Mass. A Smith College alumna with a degree in Sociology, she brings to the field her passion for nature, love of people, creativity, craftsmynship, and love of mentorship. When she isn’t guiding walks, she works as a Wilderness Skills Instructor and a Personal Care Attendant.
Hikes & Brews in Greater Portland
Spring Point Shoreway & Foulmouthed Brewing
The historic Spring Point Shoreway takes you on a scenic stroll along South Portland’s waterfront. From the Willow Street trailhead, head north along Willard Beach, taking in views of Casco Bay islands Cushing, House, Little Diamond, Great Diamond and Peaks. Meander through the Southern Maine Community College campus and the school’s Shoreway Arboretum. Beyond that, scamper along the top of the old battlements of Fort Preble, then hike the long jetty of giant granite blocks to Spring Point Ledge Lighthouse. Pass by several marinas to get to Bug Light Park and the Liberty Ship Memorial. Ahead is elegant Bug Light, modeled on an ancient Greek monument. Return to the start by ambling through the neighborhood streets. This roughly four-mile loop is easy.
On Ocean St. in South Portland, not far from the Fore River, is where you’ll find Foulmouthed Brewing, housed in an old auto garage that’s been beautifully renovated. The interesting name is a play on words dating to the 17th century, when this region of Casco Bay was named Falmouth; it also alludes to the salty language used by dock and shipyard workers of the day. With big bay windows and lots of light, this neighborhood brewpub is surprisingly cozy and comfortable. Owners Craig and Julia Dilger are brewing up a wide variety of experimental beers, and with six to nine drafts, there’s always something for everyone, but not always quite the same (although popular brews are repeated). Try a flight, then order up a full pour of your favorite. The menu is upscale pub food (oh, the corn dog!) and there are also twists on classic cocktails.
Hike: South Portland Land Trust
Brew: Foulmouthed Brewing – 207-618-6977
— Text & Photos: Carey Kish of Mt. Desert Island. Carey is an avid beer drinker, editor of the AMC Maine Mountain Guide, and author of AMC’s Best Day Hikes Along the Maine Coast.
A Beginner’s Guide to Fly Fishing Gear
Standing in the shadow of the ghostly brick mill along the banks of the Presumpscot River at Mallison Falls, I watch a cold breeze blow over the water’s surface. The cool air, along with the 40-degree river water flowing over my waders, is a welcome surprise on this unseasonable 88-degree day in early May. I’ve waited all winter for the chance to drift my fly line for trout in one of southern Maine’s tapestry of rivers; the electric anticipation of each cast makes my fingers tremble.
I don’t know it yet, but I’m about to catch the biggest brown trout of my life.
Let’s rewind three weeks earlier to a raw day in April. As the snow banks in Maine receded this spring, my mind naturally drifted from skiing to fly-fishing. That’s when I start talking to anyone who will listen about the transcendent nature of this sport. But the rod, reel, line, and tackle necessary for fly-fishing can sometimes overwhelm beginning anglers.
But, let it be my mission to demystify the world of fly-fishing gear and get you on a river in Maine catching trout and salmon this summer and fall.
On a dreary afternoon, I escaped the cruel April rain and stepped inside All Points Fly Shop + Outfitter in South Portland. Over the soft hum of an electric line spooler, owner Josh Thelin was talking to a customer about an upcoming fishing trip he planned to take to Labrador, Canada.
This July, Thelin will celebrate one year of being open on Route 1. To say his shop is small doesn’t quite capture the closet vibe of All Points. Despite the cramped feel, the walls and shelves are loaded with fishing gear that Thelin has carefully curated for trout fishing in Maine. In addition to the storefront, a portion of his business comes from Internet sales and guided fishing trips.
Thelin grabbed two chairs from a back office, and he and I sat in the middle of his quaint shop to talk fly-fishing.
“About 15 years ago, fly fishing turned into a crazy obsession,” said Thelin, a Cape Elizabeth native. During our conversation, he was excited to talk about fishing, revealing a deep knowledge of the sport.
Thelin explained that fly-casting—the most poetic and challenging part of fly-fishing—is all about physics. A medium-flex, nine-foot rod gives a fisherman more force to send a weightless fly through the air.
As far as a reel, Thelin stated, “A beginning fisherman doesn’t need a high-end reel. Mainly, the reel is just a home for the line.”
He walked me around his shop pointing out a beginner’s outfit: Redington Classic Trout Rod ($120), Rio Gold Fly Line ($80), and a Redington Zero Fly Reel ($90).
“That combination will last you a lifetime,” he said, before adding, “Unless you get really into fly-fishing—then the rabbit hole is deep.” It was clear from his wry smile that he was speaking from experience.
Before leaving, I asked what flies he recommended to beginning anglers. To be successful at fishing in Maine, he argued, an angler has to fish everything: dry flies, nymphs, and streamers.
Here’s a quick-and-dirty overview of flies. Dry flies drift on the surface and mimic bugs that fly in the air. Nymphs are fished below the surface and resemble bug larvae. Streamers are imitation baitfish largely meant to mimic smelt.
To catch trout in Maine he suggests starting with an Elk Hair Caddis dry fly, Caddis and Stonefly nymphs, and Grey Ghost and Wooly Bugger streamers.
So that’s it. For about $300, you can get outfitted with a rod, a reel, a line, and a box of flies that will open up a vast new world, one offering a deeper connection to Maine’s landscape that on its best days I can only describe as spiritual.
Back on the Presumpscot River, I drift my Caddis nymph through the fast moving current. I strip the line and feel a hard tug on my rod—the ancient dance between man and fish has begun. I pull in some line, but the fish runs toward the current. I let it run, then tighten the line. I keep my rod tip high; my arm starts to ache. This fish is big. The dance continues, until finally, a slick body breaks the surface. I slide my net under its belly and an 18-inch, four-pound brown trout settles into the webbing. Goosebumps prickle my skin. From the black surface of this river, I have coaxed a giant trout with a tiny fly.
As I cup the prehistoric fish, I think of an old adage made new: “Buy a man a fish and he eats for a day; teach a man to fish and, maybe, just maybe, he’ll catch an 18-inch brown trout on a size 12 Caddis nymph.”
— Text & Photos: Dave Patterson. Dave is a novelist and freelance writer from Cape Elizabeth with a penchant for fly-fishing, craft beer, and all things Maine.
How to Take Photos After Dark
Vacations are a time to get away, explore, see and do new things, make memories, relax and of course take pictures. There are numerous tourist attractions, landmarks and other excursions that are worthy of taking a camera and should not be missed.
Yet, come evening, many people tend to put their cameras away and that’s when you can often make your most memorable vacation images.
Photographing at night can be very rewarding, especially if you want to share the images you make with your friends and family on social media. With just moonlight and or street lights you can make some dramatic pictures. What’s more —when visiting popular places at night, you’ll likely find parking to be easier, fewer crowds—and you can skip the suntan lotion.
So, here is what you’ll need to get started taking pictures under moonlight:
A camera that can take long exposures of at least 20 seconds, a tripod, and a flashlight.
Put your camera on manual mode to allow you to set the shutter speed to 20 seconds and the Lens Aperture to f/5.6 or lower if your lens allows. The sensitivity or ISO will want to be set around 3200 – 4000 for the low-light levels you will be capturing. To minimize camera shake, use a tripod or steady your camera on a fixed surface and use the built-in timer, so when you press the shutter button, the camera will have a chance to stabilize before taking the picture – usually the two-second timer is adequate. Set your White Balance to Daylight since moonlight is just reflected sunlight. A half to full moon can bathe the landscape with a quality of light that can look like daylight. Try capturing scenes that you’d normally do in the daytime, but under moonlight to make an image that is truly dramatic.
If you find your images are coming out too dark, try opening the lens aperture to a lower number like f/ 4 to f/ 2.8, if possible, to let more light in. Alternately, you can raise the ISO but with the higher sensitivity comes grain and other noise in the image. If the moonlight is bright and your starting image is too light, then try reducing the ISO until you get an acceptably exposed image. It’s best to practice and become familiar with all of these settings before you head out at night to take pictures.
To catch the Milky Way, you want a night where the moon is not visible and where you are away from city lights. There are apps for smart phones that will help guide you to the best location to capture the Milky Way, as well as moonrise and sunrise in advance, so you can better plan where to take your photograph. One such smartphone app that does this well is called Photo Pills and is available for both Android and iPhones for a nominal one-time fee.
You can use a flashlight diffused with tissue paper to cast a soft light onto people to make a truly unique portrait of your family members under the stars while on vacation. You’ll only need to have the flashlight on for a second or two at the start of the exposure, then shut it off and make sure your subject doesn’t move until the end of the exposure.
So, before you put your camera away at the end of the day, try a photographic technique that may be new to you and make some photo memories to share that will be unique. People will be asking how you did that.
— Text & Photo: Mike Leonard. Mike is a night owl of sorts when it comes to photography. When he isn’t leading a photography cruise or doing a Photoshop class quite often after sunsets he can be found out collecting light of the moon and stars. Visit his website at phototourismbymike.com
Four Bushcrafting Skills to Master This Summer
Although it sounds mystical and mysterious, the art of Bushcraft is really just using the skills that our ancestors developed to survive in the wilderness. The origin of the phrase “Bushcraft” comes from skills used in the bush country of Australia. Before electricity and the advancement in technology, humans had to study their surroundings and figure out how to use what Mother Nature provided in order to thrive in an outdoor environment. Even in urban areas, where the average person takes clean water, shelter and abundance of readily available food for granted, there has been a renewed interest in Bushcraft, particularly, in the last decade. Many people from all walks of life have been practicing or seeking ways to get back to the basics of fire-starting, hunting, fishing, shelter-building and navigation, among other skills. Either way, there are many levels of Bushcraft to learn and master as a hobby or to just get outdoors and practice, with family and friends, which could actually could help you or others in a time of need. Here are some of the basics everyone should learn for fun or for that “just-in-case” moment.
1. FIRE STARTING
This skill provides warmth, security and the ability to cook food and purify water. The two most common Bushcraft fire-starting skills for beginners are flint and steel and ferrocerium rods with a striker. (The spine of a knife could also work well for this). The skill level for these two fire starting methods are easy to moderate.
First, obtain a piece of flint and a piece of high carbon steel as well as an item called char cloth. To use, hold the char cloth under your thumb on the flint in your non-dominant hand. Then, in a downward motion with your dominant hand, strike the flint with the striker to produce sparks that will cause the char cloth to smolder. Place the char cloth in a pre-made tinder bundle of dried grasses, birch bark shavings, etc. and blow or wave to ignite. You should have kindling ready to place onto your nest of flames and like Tom Hanks in Castaway, you have fire!
The second method uses a ferrocerium rod and striker. As in the first method, you should have a tinder bundle (dried grasses, birch bark shavings etc.) prepared in advance as well as kindling. To use, scrape the striker across the ferrocerium rod. This produces very hot sparks, which will fall onto your tinder bundle, producing flame.
These items are best purchased on eBay, Etsy, or Amazon, etc.
2. SHELTER BUILDING
Elongated exposure to the elements can be your downfall, depending on the time of year and weather conditions. To learn how to build a shelter to survive a night or longer in the outdoors, start with the most basic shelter — a debris shelter. This is constructed out of anything that is in the immediate area. For example, arrange dead branches along the side of a downed tree and cover it with pine boughs to provide a space underneath to protect you from the elements. Leaves, boughs and grass also make a great insulator on the floor of your shelter to protect you from the elements.
3. WILD EDIBLES
Food and water are the next essential skills on your list. Some of the most common and familiar wild foods found throughout Maine during the spring and summer are easy to find: blueberries, cattails, dandelions, and even pine needles. All of these can be prepared for nutrients to sustain you if need be.
For example: Cattail (Typha Latifolia) is full of starch/carbohydrates. The stalk and roots can be eaten and the fluff at the top can be used for fire tinder. To harvest cattails, you have to dig out (not pull out) the root or else the roots will break off under ground. The stalk can be peeled to reveal a soft center ready to eat. The roots should be washed and cleaned first. You can either roast both the stalk and roots over a fire or eat raw; both will provide you with well-needed energy and nourishment.
4. WATER PURIFYING
Luckily in Maine, there are abundant water sources everywhere you go: in brooks, ponds, rivers and lakes. To purify before drinking, water should be brought to a roiling boil for at least one minute and at altitudes greater than 6,562 feet (greater than 2,000 meters). Boil for three minutes. If you don’t have the means to boil, dig a hole next to a water source (such as a stream) and let the water naturally filter through the ground to your hole. This is still better than drinking directly from the water source itself as the earth acts as a filter.
— Text: Alex Ribar. Alex is a Bushcraft expert and former Marine who was an Infantry Squad Leader and NCO (Non-Commissioned Officer) that held a second MOS (Military Occupational Specialty) as one of two Company Armorers (Gun Smiths). Alex has completed a Maine Guide course, is working toward multiple registered Maine Guide licenses, and is pursuing a career in outdoor adventure. He and his son Logan were featured on the History Channel show ALONE (Season 4) in 2016. For more information on Bushcraft skills, visit his YouTube channel @LibertyRogueOutdoors.
— Photos: White Pine Studios. They offer portraiture where you want it, with on site services. Take advantage of the beautiful Maine outdoors, or bring focus to your business in action. Contact: Tim@whitepinestudios.ne
Tips for a Tech-Free Family Vacation
Introducing your kids to the joys of camping not only assures important family time, but also exposes them to a slower pace where they can be tech-free and not even miss it. Why would your kids want to drop their iPad and get outdoors? Remember the things that made it a wondrous experience for you – wide open spaces to run, the thrill of discovering new worlds and living like our ancestors, the smell of a pine forest…it’s in our DNA to take wonder in these elements.
1. The Fascination of Campfires
Building a campfire with your kids is a great way for them to learn a new skill while you sneak in some safety lessons. Start by showing them how many useful materials they can find in the natural world around them. Have them collect dry twigs and sticks and look for nature’s best fire-starter, birch bark. It’s a chance to teach kids about respecting nature. Remind them that bark is the tree’s skin and they should only collect pieces on the ground or from fallen trees, never live trees (even when it’s peeling). Help kids layer bark or newspaper, twigs, sticks and finally, the firewood, so that air can feed the fire. Later, show everyone how to properly extinguish the fire.
2. Cooking like a Caveman
First, come prepared with the right tools – at least a pair of long-handled tongs, roasting forks, and aluminum foil.
To prepare corn like a native, soak the corn in water with the husks still on, for at least a half hour. Place corn around the inside rim of the fire pit and turn often with tongs. Check after about 15-20 minutes (a parent should do this, carefully peeling back a section of husk) and cook longer if needed. The outer husks will be crispy, but inside the corn will be steamed and yummy!
For baked potatoes, show kids how to coat the potato with butter and double wrap in aluminum foil, then place on the outer rim of the campfire’s bed of hot coals. Turn every 10 minutes. A parent or an older kid can begin checking how thoroughly it has been cooked after 45 minutes.
For a very simple meal, let kids spear a hot dog or sausage on a long roasting fork and cook it over the fire. Be sure to show them how to hold it in the heat but not direct flame, so it won’t burn.
3. Going Wild
Ask park rangers or campground staff what animals are native to the area. Ask if they have a kid’s scavenger hunt notebook (many do) but if not, you can make your own ahead of time or with your child at the campsite, using sketches to help them recognize each animal. Challenge your kids to spot as many as possible. To make it even more challenging, add birds and insects to the list. Take this opportunity to talk about how wild animals differ from pets or those in zoos, including their reactions to humans. You can also talk about how humans impact them, the dangers of feeding wild animals or leaving food or trash where bears can smell it.
4. Fauna for Fun
Fauna can be lots of fun for kids when they realize how many kinds of different plants make up the sea of green around them. Come prepared with a notebook, blank paper, pencils, and crayons or colored pencils. Set up a scavenger hunt and look for specific plants, or have the kids draw the ones they find. How are they different from each other? Beyond learning about nature, a great side bonus is encouraging kids (and parents) to slow down and take in the details of the beauty around them. While reminding them never to pick wild flowers or take parts off live plants, you can encourage them to collect interesting souvenirs such as fallen leaves, acorns, or pine cones. Tip: Don’t let the kids know they are about to learn something – you can make nearly anything into a game or competition.
5. Getting Creative
For many kids, both boys and girls, building fairy furniture or structures from twigs and other found objects is a chance to be creative. Bring hemp twine or heavy brown thread and scissors and an active imagination. Tie crossed twigs with twine to make anything from a simple raft to a chair – or maybe even a four-poster bed with a birch bark mattress and leafy canopy. Layer in a little folklore and tell them to set up the evening’s work for the fairies to find in the night – they often leave gifts as a thank you! Other simple crafts are leaf rubbings and birch-bark cutouts: Simply draw a design on bark, and cut out to make tree or window ornaments.
Text and Photos: Lura Seavey. Lura is a freelance writer with a mission: to encourage families to travel and play together. She write regularly for planetware.com, is the author of several children’s books and co-author of Fun with the Family in Vermont and New Hampshire.
Summer Camping Gear Review
Reviewed by staff and friends of Activity Maine, here are our picks for great camping/hiking gear that we think you’ll like.
The 2018 Haversack by Raging River Trading Co. is packed with all the features any outdoor adventurer could ask for. This compact haversack is handmade with high quality military specification materials, specifically, 1000D Nylon Cordura with a Raging River Trading Co. Nylon liner. It comes with with two zippered inside pockets that will keep anything of value safe and secure. It also has a nice map pocket incorporated into the back outside panel for easy access while on the move. The main compartment has Velcro closer flaps at the top to hold gear securely in place. To secure your gear, there is Molly webbing on the front, bottom, side sleeve and shoulder pad, which is great for any add-on equipment, such as a bed roll, tarp, knife, etc. Under the flap on the front panel, you’ll find an axe or hatchet sleeve, a very useful feature. For 2018, Raging River has added a cinch-close water bottle pocket complete with a camo-colored stainless steel water bottle. Raging River Trading Co. is Veteran-owned and operated by Dan Edwards, a 20-year Veteran of the U.S. Coast Guard. These Haversacks are made to be used and last a life time; they are great to keep gear sorted and at the ready…an excellent carry system for all your Bushcraft, hiking, hunting and outdoor adventures. Price: $99.95
Made right here in Maine from reclaimed sail material, Flowfold builds minimalist outdoor gear for everyday adventures. Their wallet is lightweight (only .07 oz) and very durable. I thought my last wallet was slim, but when I transferred my cards and cash into it, the Flowfold wallet was noticeably thinner and lighter weight. This design features a cash pocket, two ID windows and two hidden rear card pockets. This wallet is built for outdoor adventure, weather resistant, and backed by a lifetime warranty. Using sailcloth technology, it is supposed to float, if accidentally dropped in the water, which is a huge bonus for anglers and water sports enthusiasts. Made with a Lifetime Warranty, these wallets range from $12 to $40 and you may never need another one after that!
— Stanley J. Rintz
LOWA RENEGADE GTX MID
From a wooded walk along the Maine coast to an ascent of majestic Katahdin to the rigors of an Appalachian Trail thru-hike, Lowa Renegade GTX Mid boots are up to the task. Lightweight and comfortable, these 2.5-pound boots are trail-ready right out of the box, with minimal breaking in required. Nicely cushioned around the ankle, with solid leather uppers, an easy and secure lacing system of locking hooks, wrap-around rand, and a knobby, grippy Vibram sole, Renegades provide the support of a much heavier boot, but wear like a trail runner. Splashing across a stream or mucking it up on a wet trail is no problem with weatherproof Renegades, owing to a Gore-Tex lining inside and water repellent coating outside. When it comes to fit, hiking boots are as varied as hiker’s feet, but the Lowa Renegade GTX Mid gets high marks for its true-to-size build, snug heel and roomy toe box. Size options range from 7.5 to 15 in men’s and 5.5 to 11 in women’s, plus narrow, medium and wide widths. Downside: the toe rand tends to separate where it’s fused together, but this is easily remedied with epoxy. Price: $230
— Carey Kish
JETBOIL FLASH PERSONAL COOKING SYSTEM
The Jetboil Flash Personal Cooking System is efficient, compactible, and lightweight. I’ve used it on week-long Appalachian Trail hikes and overnight campouts, and I’ve never felt I needed anything different. It can boil two cups of cold water in two minutes due to its high-speed burner. Be sure to push the ignite button on low gas and then increase the flame to avoid burning the hair off your hand. The one-liter, insulated cooking cup is easy to handle while hot because its notched bottom and side strap make it easy to detach from the burner and pour into a bowl or bag. I would avoid cooking saucy pasta meals directly in it, since it will scorch the sides.
A two-cup bowl is included and is great for instant oats or grits. All amenities pack into the cooking cup to about the size of a Nalgene water bottle, making it weigh only 15 ounces. If you want to go fancier than instant coffee, you can purchase a French press add-on, which can all fold up into the cooking system conveniently as well. Given its convenience and efficiency, the Jetboil is a great companion to have along the trail. Prices range from $75 to $100 and $10 extra for the coffee press add-on.
When Did You Last Do a Digital Detox?
Dear Dr. K, when I stop playing on my computer for more than an hour I feel anxious. I’ve gained weight, and when I am not online, I can’t concentrate, don’t want to do anything, and am waiting until I can get back in front of a screen again. What’s wrong with me?
The negative impact of technology on our mental, cognitive and physical health is becoming an increasing problem. A 2010 study from the University of Leeds found a significant connection between the amount of time people spent online and symptoms of depression. Since then, outcomes from a variety of studies suggest that, as both kids’ and adults’ time in front of a screen increases, their physical activity decreases, raising their vulnerability to mental health problems. Terms like “digital depression” and “digital dementia” have entered our mainstream vocabulary. It’s clear that screen time is having a major impact on our brains and bodies.
There is no pill (or drug) you can take to cure digital depression. “Digital detox” is the only known cure. When you choose to unplug, your brain can feel like you have gone from information gluttony to starvation mode. This is digital withdrawal. Here is timeline of what you can expect:
- Like someone on a highly restrictive diet, when you first go “offline,” you may experience anxiety, stress, and an urge to give up and go back to bingeing on screen time to get a “fix.”
- Irritability tends to creep in as if your brain is causing you to have a temper tantrum because you are not giving it what it wants.
- After a relatively short time, (which can seem like a long time) the anxiety and irritability dissipates and boredom sets in. When you are used to being fed new links, new activities, and new icons to click to get “rewarded,” the real world can feel a bit dull and your motivation can feel as though it needs a jump-start. Sleeping it off might feel like the “easy” way to handle this withdrawal.
Symptoms that might meet the diagnostic criteria for depression include:
- Diminished interest of pleasure in almost all activities
- Difficulty staying asleep or sleeping too much
- Agitation or lethargy nearly every day
- Fatigue or loss of energy
- Diminished ability to think or concentrate, indecisiveness
- Restlessness, brain fog, poor focus and concentration, mental disorganization, and impulsive urges to go online “to check just one thing” can make you think you are losing your mind.
You can white knuckle it through all this, or you can have a plan in place before you unplug to reduce some of this discomfort. My suggestion to clients, is to have a replacement activity. Create a list of friends you can call, activities you enjoy, events you want to attend, or goals you want to accomplish, now that you will have more free time.
Getting back in your body is one of the best ways to manage the stress of getting offline and avoiding digital depression. Physical activity burns stress chemicals in your body that build up while you are sitting in front of a screen. Being active with other people is even better! Activity and social interactions trigger chemicals in your brain that cause you to be more creative, healthy, focused, productive, and happy.
— Text: Kirsten Milliken, PhD.
Dr. Milliken is the author of PlayDHD: Permission to Play, A Prescription for Adults With ADHD. She lives in Portland with her two kids who hate her for restricting their Internet access!
Hikes & Brews in the Upper Kennebec River Valley
Moxie Bald Mountain & Kennebec River Brewing Co.
East of Moxie Pond in Bald Mountain Township rises the long, undulating ridgeline of Moxie Bald Mountain, which tops out at 2,630 feet. The Appalachian Trail traverses the mountain, leading hikers to extensive areas of open granite slabs and ledges. The 360-degree panorama atop Moxie Bald ranges from majestic Katahdin and other high peaks in Baxter State Park all the way to the Bigelows, Sugarloaf and Mt. Abraham. Follow the white blazes of the AT over the summit, then loop back around via the summit bypass trail. A log AT lean-to at Bald Mountain Brook makes a nice wayside coming and going. About ten miles round-trip.
Traditional British-style beers are what’s on tap in the beautiful open-timbered log lodge at Northern Outdoors in The Forks, Maine’s only whitewater rafting and adventure resort with its own brewery. Kennebec River Brewery is a throwback to a neighborhood pub, according to Jim Yearwood, vice president of Northern Outdoors and the brewery’s founder in 1996. They don’t distribute, so you’ll have to enjoy their beers onsite or take home a fresh growler. Magic Hole IPA is the brewery’s bestselling flagship beer. There’s also Let ‘Er Drift Summer Ale and six other custom brews on tap, plus a full menu of hearty pub fare.
Hike: Trailhead directions: From US 201 in The Forks, just before the highway crosses the Kennebec River, turn east on Lake Moxie Road and follow it for 5.3 mi. Turn right on Troutdale Road and follow it along Moxie Pond, and at 12.9 mi., reach a small parking area on the right; the sign for the AT and Moxie Bald is on the left.
Brew: Kennebec River Brewery
— Text & Photos: Carey Kish of Mt. Desert Island. Carey is an avid beer drinker, editor of the AMC Maine Mountain Guide, and author of AMC’s Best Day Hikes Along the Maine Coast.