Whetstone to Yellowstone.
Whetstone, East Branch Penobscot River, Maine
39 years ago today, I set out on my first wilderness canoe trip. As a senior at UMO, I took a class that was often billed as the second most popular class on campus (Human Sexuality was #1)! On Thursday May 4, 1979, twenty-two of us set out with our professor, legendary Walt Abbott, for the northwest wilderness of Maine known as the East Branch Penobscot River. The future National Monument (Katahdin Woods & Water) is a beautiful large track of wilderness nestled in northwest Maine at the northern end of the Appalachian Trail. At 750 degrees it was a warm, early May day. It had been a snowy winter so the river was running high and part of Matagamon Campground was flooded.
That Friday morning we packed and prepared for the trip to Whetstone, a 3 day river trip. Armed with a $10 K-Mart pup tent and a Coleman sleeping bag, that was an interesting first experience to camping in the cooler side of Maine. (Oh, I’ve slept in a tent outside before …but summers in the back yard were far different than being exposed to winter-like conditions in the woods.) The day was a drizzly morning and not nearly as warm as the day before. That day ended with us camping below Haskell Rock near the Hulling Machine. The river was ferocious and beautiful! Rain picked up. The next morning found it a lot colder and several inches of snow on the ground. I learned a lot that spring.
Katahdin Woods & Water National Monument
Several years later I enlisted in a mountain infantry unit in the Army. Most of our training was cold weather operations, which gave me a chance to expand my knowledge (and appreciation) for the colder side of nature. Nothing like sleeping in the woods with it 30 below and only a down sleeping bag between you and the elements! Besides hiking, carrying gear, and planning, the enlistment gave me an appreciation for good tech clothing (wool, water-wicking undergarments, “Mickey Mouse” boots, & Gore-Tex) and serving my country.
With my love for the outdoors expanding, I continued to develop my professional career as a physical education teacher. Moving away from traditional sports and activities I developed a whole outdoor experience program. In the winter, classes did cross-country skiing. In spring, students learned map and compass reading and trekking. Lessons were often integrated with wildlife and fauna education. Physical fitness cannot only be fun and enjoyable, but an appreciation for our natural surroundings. Life was about enjoying our surrounding including mother nature!
In our family life, my wife and I spend time off taking the kids camping. An L. L. Bean tent and better sleeping bags ensured a better experience for all of us. Baxter State Park, other state parks, and state lands provided the backdrop of some very interesting camping experiences. And then we graduated to a pop-up!
Ten years passed and we expanded our camping to a whole new level. It always enticed us to go “camping” with a trailer. Although having a kitchen, bathroom, and HEAT was a far cry from those cold nights in a sleeping bag under the stars at Oyster River Firing Range with my Army buddies, it made life more enjoyable with the family. It also enabled us to expand our range. With a camper, we could take friends with us. Our grandkids can go. Traveling to South Carolina or Minnesota was possible …even enjoyable! Yes, “glamping” (glamorous camping) is a real activity!
So, as my wife and I enter into our new phase of life, the “campah” is providing a whole new experience. Workamping! In a few days, we head off to my new job …as a tour guide in Yellowstone! That 3-day trip a long, long time ago that ended at Whetstone has evolved to a career at Yellowstone. Where will life take us? …
…On To YELLOWSTONE !
STAY TUNED! More “tales from the campah”! Coming soon.
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Coming Soon!!! YouTube channel with movies of the adventures!