Summertime in the Belgrades
August 24 – September 30
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by Pete Kallin
Suddenly the days are getting a little shorter, and I am noticing swamp maples beginning to turn red in the wetlands and birches turning yellow high on the hillsides. It is still quite warm during the day, but the nights are growing cooler. Soon it will become easier to find a parking place in the village, at least until they start working on Main Street again after Labor Day. Like the birds and squirrels, I am double checking my summer "to do" list and trying to make sure everything gets done. I am amazed at how many things are still on the list. In addition to looking for mushrooms and elderberries when I hike, I find myself keeping my eyes peeled for grouse, deer, and turkey sign. Those seasons are rapidly approaching and last year's venison supply is running low in the freezer.
One day last week, my wife and I packed a picnic lunch and climbed French Mountain just before noon. It was a beautiful sunny, but relatively cool day and we were not the only ones on the trail. When we got to the summit, two women were in a deep conversation looking out over the lake. We sat down to eat our lunch on the rocks above them and were soon joined by eight people hiking with a dog. At least one of the people and the dog looked familiar. It turns out that it was more of the Mohr family from Rockwood Shores that I had photographed on The Mountain a couple weeks earlier. Back then there were six people plus the dog. This time it was eight people plus the dog, with only one person that was in the last photo! The dog made both pictures. They said their extended family rotates in all summer and they all like to hike.
The Mohrs resumed their hike and my wife and I went back to our lunch. Suddenly we heard more voices coming up the trail. It was Addie Michaud from Mount Vernon, hiking with her kids and some friends from Edmonton, Alberta. Addie is the sister of my friend Lidie Robbins, who is the executive director of the 30-Mile River Watershed Association. The 30-Mile River Watershed includes over 20 interconnected lakes, rivers, streams, and and ponds that drain from Kimball Pond in New Sharon through Androscoggin Lake and the Dead River to the Androscoggin River, a distance of about 30 miles through portions of eight or nine towns in three different counties.
My wife and I then finished our lunch, hiked down the trail, and found enough black trumpet mushrooms along the way to make several tasty meals with these delicious morsels, including the venison-mushroom meatloaf that is cooking as I write this column.
It is hard to believe that this is the final issue of Summertime in the Belgrades for this year. I hope this column has inspired some of you to get out and explore the outdoor recreation opportunities the region has to offer and I hope you took a kid or two along. Until next year, I encourage everyone to "take it outside." For those of you who will be around for the winter, I encourage you to join me on the local trails on snowshoes or skis. Carpe ski-em!
Pete Kallin is a past director of the Belgrade Regional Conservation Alliance.