After 21 years, to the day, a travel companion and I head to The Maine Highlands. It’s a haul up Interstate 95 and onto smaller roads to the gateway town of Greenville. This is the relative big city compared to the surrounding townships. We stop in the Indian Hill Trading Post to stock up on supplies before heading out further into the wilderness.
We head up the Lily Bay Road overlooking Moosehead Lake. At Kokadjo, the pavement disappears. We’re now driving down well-worn gravel roads, picking our way along trying to avoid pot holes or pick rocks jutting out of the surface. We slow down to look at First Roach Pond. The forest is quiet, save the rustle of the leaves in the wind. The birch and poplar leaves show their silver undersides in the breeze. A raven flies between trees. The silence is wonderful.
We move on towards our destination. Down the dusty dirt road we arrive at West Branch Pond Camps. A Great Blue heron ignores our arrival.
We settle in to the cabin. Start a nice fire in the wood stove. The dinner bell rings at the main lodge. Eric comes over to greet us. He’s busy making dinner but takes the time to welcome us to the camps. For me, this is the return 21 years later. We have a wonderful dinner overlooking West Branch Pond; with moose, black ducks, and loons eating their own dinners on the water. We strike up a conversation with some of the other guests.
After eating plenty, we poke around the main lodge looking at the books, stuffed animals, and the guest register. In some ways, this is a museum. Original books from the early 20th century, still intact, still with their thumbed pages visible. Mix in some more recent additions such as wildflowers of the North East, Zen Magazine, and Sierra Club pamphlets.
Darkness falls slowly at first and then quickly as the sun sets behind the mountains. The moon is full.
The loons and coyotes calling up a storm, echoing all around the mountains. I can still pick out the various loon calls. First a series of Wails, type 1 and type 2. Then some type 2 Tremolos. A faint answer from another loon far, far away, possibly 3rd roach or on Big Lyford.A family of coyotes seems to join in, howling at the moon. The wind is gentle, but chilly. A nice respite from the steamy heat of Boston.
The moon is so bright that night photography is like a shadowy day. We retire for the evening to our nicely warmed cabin smelling of the logs on the fire.