I got home this afternoon and scanned my photos from the weekend, and I found myself disappointed. I took pictures of all the wrong things. No roaring fire at night, no night sky filled with stars, no green swirling pools of water at the bottom of waterfalls. No tears after I fell out of the canoe while trying to get into it, tipping it over and sending the VEB and our cameras into the pond. (All miraculously unscathed, save for a big bruise on my arm.) Getting back in and canoeing the upper pond, where a beaver slapped his tail at us before disappearing under the water that mirrored the cliffs above. And no pictures of Katahdin, which remained hidden from view behind the clouds.
And then the things that can’t be photographed: the sounds of grouses beating their feathers, almost more felt than heard; being woken up at two in the morning by several angry loons; leaving the phone in the car because there’s no service and after a few hours not even missing it; the utter peace of a late afternoon nap after a hike and a paddle.
Baxter’s so big that one weekend barely counts as a visit. Much of the park was still closed due to bad road and trail conditions, thanks to the long hard winter; in fact the campground we stayed at (South Branch) had just opened the day before we arrived. It got pretty cold at night, and the bugs were a little ugly at times. I’d probably not go again so early in the season, although it did mean there were very few people around and we practically had the place to ourselves. That said, I’d go back in a heartbeat. It’s so beautiful, really impossibly so…and remote in a way that forces you to forget everything you left behind, at least for a little while. And the rangers were incredibly kind, going out of their way to help us make the most of our short little adventure. It made me feel a little guilty for it taking 43 years and meeting someone from Massachusetts for me to make it up there; but at the same time, the place made me really proud to be a native Mainer. And, just a tiny bit guilty for having left in the first place.