Hiking Up Douglas Mountain

Getting to the mountain

Days off together are a precious commodity for Nick and I, since he works retail and I have a 9-5:30 job during the week. We never know when we might get a day together, so we try to take advantage when it happens. Yesterday was just such a Sunday. We slept in together, and headed up to Douglas Mountain in Sebago after we stopped off at DD so I could get my coffee.

The drive up to Sebago
The drive up to Sebago

The drive up was cloudy at the outset. Nick said that even if it didn’t get brighter or warmer, the view would still be worth it. He has already hiked to the top of Douglas Mountain a few times. The sun came out as we ventured further north and wound around the lake. We took Route 114 North up through Sebago to Douglas Mountain Road, past picturesque farms and bright green hills. The Maine countryside looked fresh from numerous April rainstorms. We saw no more signs of winter.

Peaceful green Maine countryside
Peaceful green Maine countryside

We arrived at the parking lot around 12pm, and prepared our backpacks with water and some snacks. This time of year the forest is busy composting millions of leaves, and recent rainwater helps to turn everything into a useful mulch. So we started out carefully, stepping around the thick mud and ankle-deep puddles at the bottom of the hill.

Nicholas climbs Douglas Mountain
Nicholas climbs Douglas Mountain

The hike out to the peak and back, using the Eagle Scout Nature Trail (map here), is about 3 miles. Both of us had brought our Apple Watches, but we forgot to “start” the hike digitally at first, so we both ended up tracking 2.65 miles there and back. Though muddy and full of many puddles that looked like mass mosquito nurseries, the trail up the mountain was gradual and provided many rocks and roots to step on during the climb. It was steep enough that I had to catch my breath a couple times on the way up.

 

At the summit

The 16-foot stone tower at the summit was originally named for Dr. William Blackman, a surgeon who had purchased the area in 1892 and built the structure himself. Later it was purchased by a nature conservancy organization, and given to the town of Sebago for all to enjoy. Thanks to Dr. Blackman and the kind hikers who passed before us, we made it to the summit.

A bridge over the Eagle Scout trail
A bridge over the Eagle Scout trail

By the time we reached the Blackman Tower, the sun had come out and the sky was a rich blue. It was gorgeous. We spent some time atop the tower, hanging out together under wide skies. We looked out at Maine, and west to New Hampshire. There was a sign which showed the different distances to at least 20 different hills, ponds, and mountains all around. It said the tower looked out over several hundred square miles. Nick said the sign was new to him, though he’d been here a few times last summer.

We were there for an hour, snacking on jerky, saying hello to other hikers, and reading aloud the playing cards we have that show edible wild plants on them. The wind was wild but not cold, and the sun shone warm for a long time. The mosquitoes were decidedly fewer at the top of the tower. Nicholas kindly offered me his warm sweater, because he’s a gentleman like that.

At the top of Dr. Blackman's 16-ft stone tower
At the top of Dr. Blackman’s 16-ft stone tower

Soon enough we decided to go back, and ventured down the Eagle Scout trail the way we had come, to the parking lot. It took us a little less time to get down than it had to go up, but that is only natural considering the 480-ft elevation gain we had climbed. It wasn’t a long ride home, where we both promptly relaxed after consuming a delicious home cooked meal (thanks Nicholas) and I took a nap. Here’s to more hikes, and seeing more of the Northeast this summer.

Blue skies over the Blackman Tower
Blue skies over the Blackman Tower

 

Ridiculous, curious, most likely delirious.

I love a great story, whether it comes in the form of words or visual stimuli. I believe everyone has a story to tell, and I love to share mine.

Please feel free to read along, comment, share your own stories, or send me a message via the contact page. Thanks for your time reading my words.

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Why getting fired was the best thing that ever happened to me.

A couple of months ago, I got fired from a crappy corporate job. I was in shock at first; very upset with myself. I had never been let go before in my life. I was the one still at my desk when others went for a smoke. I had tried (even when I didn’t like it), I had tried! I was baffled – my former boss had said I had to leave because I thought outside the box. You’re smarter than three-quarters of the people I know, but here we need people who read from a script, he said.

He was right. I didn’t like the job. I had a hard time in a business-to-business trade magazine environment. I was not cut out to take advantage of poorer men for large sums of money. At first, I really thought I could be. I was buying into the “lots of money” dream. I truly was. I’m ashamed of that, but if I’m honest I was into it nonetheless. I wanted to have nice things and travel a lot, too. I listened to the promises and I seized my fake title and played it out for all it was worth.

It did not take long for this self-deception to wear off. I was no longer good at deceiving myself. It became more difficult to play the role, and my dissatisfaction with my own actions showed. This part was certainly my fault. My former boss was right – I had bought into it for a month. But that’s not me. I’m not cut out for being a corporate dog. So I was let go. I’m still not sure who’s to blame. Probably both parties, but in many ways I feel the victim.

Either way, I was depressed for a few weeks and laid around the house, drawing comics that signified existential crises and getting down over my lack of employment. I watched too much Law & Order and cuddled the cat too much. But then, an unprecedented opportunity came up. A job! Someone wanted me to make them a website. For money. Real money.

Wow, I thought. Maybe this can go somewhere in a few months. So I took the job. Just to have something to do, to get out of the house. Then, a second job came up. Then a third, a fourth, and a fifth. And then I learned more about how to build and design sites in a more professional way. I watched tutorials and read through books on CSS. Momentum caught up with me and now I’ve got some things to work on that will sustain me for a while. It looks like by this time next year, I may be working for myself completely.

So here I am, in the middle of sort of starting my own business. It’s crazy; I never, ever thought I would be doing this. But opportunity had presented itself, and here I am. I’m learning more things on a daily basis than I have in a very long time. I’m keeping up with the news, and the world, and giving myself too much to do on a daily basis. It’s wonderful. It’s frustrating, and it’s wonderful.

I never thought that this is how being unemployed would turn out. I feel like, ironically, being fired was the best thing that ever happened to me. I’ve grown and learned so much in the past three months. There’s been a great big wash of relief, as if a great sigh were exiting from my heart. Maybe it’s because I just read The Alchemist, but I’m sure that this has happened for a reason. Or three. Regardless, I’m grateful as well as surprised.

So what’s your story? I’d be interested to hear about others’ experiences with entrepreneurship, starting and owning your own business, or being unemployed. Please share!

Ridiculous, curious, most likely delirious.

I love a great story, whether it comes in the form of words or visual stimuli. I believe everyone has a story to tell, and I love to share mine.

Please feel free to read along, comment, share your own stories, or send me a message via the contact page. Thanks for your time reading my words.

Continue Reading