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by Pete Kallin
Summer is racing by. As the State eases COVID restrictions, more and more visitors are returning to our area. Evidence continues to mount that being outside is much safer than being inside. The trailheads at the local trails are showing more and more out-of-state plates and many more families hiking together. Similarly, there are more boats on the lakes every day and more and more people in the water. As the air has warmed to the high eighties and the water into the upper 70s and low 80s, more and more people are swimming, sailing, and tubing.
I have been doing some hiking at the local trails and most of the hikers seem to be returning summer residents and out-of-state families visiting parents and grandparents for the first time in a while. Although we missed the annual loon calling contest and the beanhole supper, Comet NEOWISE provided a bit of novelty that won't return for another 6,766 years. Hopefully we'll be all done with COVID-19 by then.
The increased crowds are bringing a bit of normalcy but the fact most people are wearing masks reminds us it's not quite normal yet. I recently met the O'Donnell family from Cape May, NJ, coming down the trail as I was heading up. They were spending the week visiting parents and grandparents on lower Long Pond. Mom has been hiking French Mountain for over 36 years, even longer than the 32 years that BRCA/7 Lakes Alliance has owned the property.
The week has been pretty dry so the mushroom foraging has slowed down, although there is still a pretty good crop of black trumpets if you know where to look. The blueberry picking has been excellent. The timing of the early pollination followed by a bit of rain and then some warm weather has resulted in a bumber crop.
The fishing has slowed a bit and the bigger fish have moved down below the warm, mixed layer (hypolimnion). I'm still catching some nice bass 20 to 25 ft. down using either crayfish or alewife imitations. A couple of times this week I have found schools of white perch, also browsing on alewives. We kept enough for a nice fish fry and got some in the freezer.Take advantage of the rest of the summer and get out on the lakes or hike or bike in the hills. And take a kid along. You will be creating memories that will last. Check out the events at the 7-LA website and the sign in front of the MLRC. Events are being presented as conditions allow, and the schedule is fluid. Pick up a map of the local trails at Day's Store or from the 7 Lakes Alliance at the Maine Lakes Resource Center. Individual trail maps can be downloaded from the 7 Lakes website.
Pete Kallin is a past director of the Belgrade Regional Conservation Alliance, which merged with the Maine Lakes Resource Center in December 2017 to form the 7-Lakes Alliance.