Home to the most beautiful harbor on the coast of Maine, Camden holds a dear spot in our hearts. When Hannah and I were running on empty, out of gas as parents, my mom and dad (Jean and Dan) stepped up and took our kids for a long weekend while we escaped to Camden, 125 miles up the coast from home. Camping at the base of Mount Battie in the Camden Hills State Park, the following morning we’d take the ferry to the channel island of Islesboro for a day of biking in what I imagine is what 1950s Maine looked like.
Arriving after a morning walk into the bay to the Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse, (click here for that blog), Hannah and I arrive by noon for our hike to the top of Mount Battie. Though there is an auto road to the summit, Hannah and I are pumped for a fall hiking experience in shorts and tee-shirts on this most unusual mid-November day in the mid-60s.
Walking the auto road for two hundred yards, we come to the hiker’s parking lot with the only port-a-potty we see on the entire grounds. TMI?
Puncheons (parallel planks) greet us through a what would be a boggy stretch if the summer rains had come. We have a well-marked trip with blue blazes on the trees every 50-100’.
The hiking challenge is that the brown fall leaves cover the trail, hiding its roots and especially rocks. Stumbling on rocks is an occupational hazard of hiking in the fall. But using a favorite word of our grandsons Max and Owen, we are agile enough to hike without incident today.
Nearly to the top of this 1.5 mile trail that will take us about an hour, we are told by descending hikers of an owl just off the trail. Totally missing the owl some 30’ of the trail, we are fortunate that another hiker draws us back to the spot where it is perched on an oak branch. Not wanting to spook it, get in the way of mice it might be stalking, or owlets it might be protecting, I use my iPhone to take its prom photo. Later I zoom in and edit the picture.
The 780’ in elevation to the mountaintop gives us a good work out. At the top fifteen cars and motorcycles are parked with folks out and about enjoying the coastline below. With the warm air of the day and far fewer gleaming white sailing craft than would be there in the summer, the view to the harbor is a hazier memory of paradise. Still, the Camden Harbor remains numero uno for me.
On the way down, we walk carefully on the slippery dry leaves. At the hiker’s parking lot, I ask a young man if I can take a picture of the bird on his head. Happy to, he tells us that it is a rainbow lorikeet (kin to parakeet?), native to Eastern Australia, though he said he got it just up the road in Belfast.
Three coastal hikes in Bristol, Newcastle, and Camden (home to Don McLean – singer/songwriter of American Pie) and two lighthouses (Pemaquid Point and Rockland Breakwater) over two days is our kind of two-day warm fall getaway on the coast of Maine.