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by Pete Kallin
Last week the Appalachian Trail Conservancy held their biennial conference at Colby College in Waterville. If you drove through the Colby campus last week, you probably noticed tents pitched all over the campus: under trees; alongside Johnson Pond; and, overlooking some of the athletic fields. There were about 1200 people of all ages striding around in colorful tee shirts, attending various workshops and activities.
Entitled "Views from the Maine Woods," this year's conference included a lot of presentations about both national and Maine conservation topics, as well as lots of outdoor activities, including hikes, birding expeditions, and paddles throughout Maine. Mel Croft and I were among the roughly 100 or so volunteer "trip leaders." We led several hikes on various BRCA properties that traced the evolution of our landscape over the past 200 million years. Mel discussed rocks, plate tectonics, and ice ages and covered the first 199.99 million years. I then talked about lichens, plants, and other pioneering species to illustrate the roughly 10,000-year transformation of the bare rock and melted ice water, left at the end of the last ice age, into the forests and lakes surrounding us today. It was a lot fun and at least 50 visitors from all over the country (plus Canada) have a greater appreciation for our local landscape.
In addition to the out of town ATC visitors, there were a lot of the "usual crowd" on the trails, especially at French Mountain. I met three or four generations of the Phillips family, some of whom have been returning to the family camp on Great Pond for over 60 years. Ten minutes later, three generations of the Comeau family from East Pond and Needham, MA, headed up the trail, as Tom Duffus and his family came down. The Duffus family has also been summering on Great Pond for well over 60 years.
Take advantage of the rest of the summer and get out on the lakes or hike or bike in the hills. Try a kayak trip down the Great Meadow Stream. And take a kid along, or a senior citizen that you will help make a kid again. You will be creating memories that will last a lifetime.
Pete Kallin is a past director of the Belgrade Regional Conservation Alliance.