Dan and Hannah Celebrate by Hiking the La Verna Reserve near Damariscotta, Maine

Unusually warm weather for early November has Hannah and me itching to the hit the road and rock and roll up the coast of Maine for some hiking and lighthousing.  Having my own personal Maine travel guru in Paul Rosenblum, I learn that 100 miles north of York are hiking trails on the Pemaquid Peninsula for our time to celebrate, celebrate, dance to the music.

Warm temps over the cold Atlantic bring heavy fog to the coast this Monday after the 2020 election, as we drive north on the Maine Turnpike before turning onto coastal Route One in Topsham. 

Our WAZE GPS takes us through Damariscotta south on the Pemaquid Peninsula to the parking lot for the La Verna Preserve.

With promised water views of the Muscongus Bay, we do wonder what we’ll see as the fog has us hiking in a wonderland cloud.  With well-marked, blue blaze trails, we begin on the Hoyt Trail, turn left at the Ellis Trail (see map below), to maximize our hiking mileage (by that I mean our Fitbit steps!). 

Wouldn’t Robert Frost love this stonewall!

With a few firs of green, skeletal oak trees, and hemlocks dying a brittle death from the tiny white hemlock woolly adelgid, we trample the fallen oak leaves aware that hidden stones and roots lurk below. 

Shorts in Maine November!

Once to Muscongus Bay, we channel our Inner Zen Sunshine, having faith that the fog will lift. At various points along the Shore Trail we head down to the rocks and get our full Maine coastal experience. 

And then Voila! The sun breaks through.

With few others are on this trail, when we do cross paths, we all don our masks.  It’s our effort to support the common good. It’s not rocket science. Fact is, it’s second grade science!

Returning by way of the La Verna Trail, we encounter a solo hiker who we greet with It’s a great day for a celebration.  He knowingly smiles and laughs his agreement about the momentous conclusion to the 2020 presidential race just two days ago.

La Verna Trail

Soon, a younger couple, he with tattoos (not that there is anything wrong with that) and both without masks pass by.  I am not so lighthearted with them as we are deep in Red Country. 

You see, there is talk of two “Maines.”  We in the south are more progressive, brunch-loving, and drive Priuses and those in the north have more conservative views, pick-ups, and gun racks.

An American flag truck at the trailhead

After 90 minutes of temperate November hiking, in shorts no less, we return to the parking lot to see two women about our age dressed in hunter orange with their pooch suitably covered with her own orange reflective vest.  We smile and say, It’s a great day for a celebration.  The first woman looks at her partner as she smiles back broadly. Then they wonder if we have heard any gunshots? No, only a distant chain saw.

It’s one thing to be white in America and be disgusted by the tone and substance of the last four years. It’s something else to be gay, undocumented, or a person of color who is directly threatened by policies of exclusion and hate.

We celebrate today but know the journey is nowhere near done.

For those wondering more about the backstory of the La Verna Reserve, please read on. Tap on the images to enlarge them for easier reading.