Cameron Success!

Two weeks after our failed attempt at making the summit of Cameron Mountain, we decided to try again. With the temperatures 20 degrees cooler and the humidity hovering at a more acceptable level, we felt that we would be able to achieve our goal. It was also the only nice day sandwiched between some cold, rainy days.

When we reached the parking area, we noticed some people preparing for their hike by donning nets and spraying clothes. Mother’s Day weekend; and right on schedule the black flies had appeared! This meant that we would have to keep moving towards our destination for my husband had little tolerance for standing around swatting at insects while I attempted to take pictures. Thus, a beautiful, artistically curled fern did not get a second chance of being photographed after the first shot showed up as a green blur. Onward we went.

This time around we did not feel exhausted and sore when we reached the Cameron trail-head, a good sign since we had done this portion of the trail many times before when we hiked Bald Rock Mountain. It was a little less buggy here so we did pause for a few brief moments to observe the difference that two weeks had made in the vegetation. The Canada Mayflowers were just beginning to push up the stem that would grow into the familiar small white flower, the Wild Sarsaparilla was beginning to form the fireworks-like ball of flowers underneath its leaves, and, just before the marker telling us the turn off was a mile down the trail, I spied a Trillium in bloom. We also discovered that this particular trail seemed to be a haven for Black and White Warblers. We watched many of these tiny birds flitting up and down the trees on either side of the trail. A pair of Thrushes also played about in the woods as we walked by.

It wasn’t long before we spotted some snowmobile signs and a smaller sign pointing the way to the summit. Seeing the signs, we realized that during our first attempt to conquer this mountain, we had bailed out only 50 yards from the turn off. We had been so close but in our exhaustion had not seen it. However,  this was a better day. From where we stood, at the edge of the woods, we knew it would not take us long to walk up the trail and achieve our goal.

We proceeded through the field and reached the top of Cameron Mountain in just a few minutes. In one direction, we could see a portion of Megunticook Lake and Ragged Mountain beyond. In the other direction, we looked about at Bald Rock and Derry Mountains. We spent some time enjoying the panoramic views before the breeze died down and the flies returned. It was time to return home and bask in our success.

Perimeter Trail at Merryspring

During the first week of May, there was finally a break in the rain long enough for me to grab my adventure buddy and head over to Merryspring. This time, I decided to venture further afield by conquering the perimeter trail, without getting lost in the maze of trails known as the arboretum. Since my husband and I have experienced this confusion every time we have attempted walking the perimeter of Merryspring, he joked that I should have my phone, a GPS, map, flares and several days’ worth of food before setting out. Part of the problem was that not all the arboretum trails were marked on the trail map available at the kiosk, but after carefully examining the map, my friend and I figured that we just needed to keep to the right in order to stay on trail “1”.

Even though it was May, there was still not much green showing on the trees. The lack of leaves did enable us to get a clear view of ponds, streams and a couple of rock wall surrounded wells. With the abundance of rainfall over the last few weeks, not only was there plenty of moss growing everywhere but the trails were quite muddy. On one downward section of trail, I lost my footing in the muck and was down on my knees. No damage done, we continued on our journey.

As we walked, I noticed that ferns were just beginning to poke through the damp soil, the fuzzy curled up leaves just waiting for a few more days before sprouting up. Near the dreaded “A” marked trails, I found the tell-tale single first leaf of the Canada Mayflower. In fact I had noticed a carpet of these leaves all over the various trails we have hiked and I wondered if a few warm days would see an explosion of white flowers throughout the woods.

Keeping to the right, we managed to avoid getting lost this time around and it wasn’t long before we spotted the greenhouses and gardens near the entrance. Since my friend wanted a copy of upcoming programs and her own trail map we entered the main building where I took the opportunity to ask if there was a separate trail map of the arboretum area. I was surprised that the person we spoke to mentioned that he always got lost there as well and they were in the process of remaking a map for that area. Good to know that we were not the only ones to suffer this experience. When I mentioned that I was also disappointed that I had not spotted any flowers in bloom this late in the season, this staff member mentioned that things were blooming over by the vernal pond. Of course, I had to drag my buddy over to the vernal pond to see what was there. Once I found the blooming Blood-root I was satisfied. We walked the perimeter trail without getting lost, found new growth of ferns and Canada Mayflowers, and visited a few flowers in bloom; our day was complete.

Failed attempt at Cameron

By the end of April, we had settled into a pattern of one very warm, humid day followed by a week of cold, rainy weather. When the last day of April promised to be that one sunny day for the foreseeable future, we decided to be a little bit more ambitious and attempt to summit Cameron Mountain. The Cameron Mountain trail-head is directly across from our favorite hiking route up Bald Rock Mountain and since the state park map indicated that this would be a moderate hike, we had no doubt that we would be able to make our way up the trail to the spur that would take us across the blueberry fields towards the summit. Unfortunately, we did not take in to account the humid weather or how our stamina had deteriorated after weeks of rain.

As we began our ascent up the Multi-use Trail, we enjoyed the sights and sounds of a new season. I stopped to examine some red flowers scattered along the side of the trail. It took us some time before we realized that these were the flowers shed by the surrounding maple trees prior to displaying the new leaves of the year. We paused to listen to the water running down the hills through the gullies on either side of the trail, while a wood thrush called in the distance.

When we reached the Cameron Mountain trail-head, we had to stop for a few minutes. We had done this portion of the trail many times, but on this particular day we seemed to have expended a great amount of effort to get this far. Still, we decided to soldier on. The trail took us downhill for a bit before taking a left-hand turn and leveling out.

Shortly after this turn, I spied movement in one of the nearby trees. I stopped and admired the meanderings of a black and white warbler as it made its way around the tree. I had always been told that to see warblers one must look high but this one was at eye level. It was a treat to have such a close up view of this interesting little bird. Further on we crossed a brook with a stone wall running alongside. The view was magical and it seemed like another good spot to rest.

We were both beginning to feel the effects of the humid conditions now, stopping repeatedly to regain the strength to go on. At one stopping point, I noticed how a broken spot on a twig of a tree looked like a “bird of paradise”. We went on looking for the spur towards the mountain, until I finally had to call it quits. The wood sign at the trail-head had indicated that the branch off for the mountain was about a mile from that point, but we had walked about a mile and found no evidence of the spur.

We were hot, exhausted and everything seemed to hurt. It was time to turn around. As we trudged back towards the Multi-use trail, we noticed that someone with a sense of humor had carved a smiley face into a stump, or perhaps it was meant as encouragement for the weary traveler. Once on the Multi-use trail, we sat on the foundation remains on the Bald Rock Mountain trail before heading back to the car. We will summit Cameron some day, hopefully later this summer.

Bowdoin Pines

By mid-April the snow was almost gone and I was ready for a road trip with my adventure buddy. April was also the month for the quilt shop hop in Maine. Although my friend did not quilt, she was willing to go along for the ride. If everything worked according to plan, we would also find a place where we could explore the outdoors.

With an agenda sketched out, we set off for the 2 hour ride to Freeport to visit our first quilt shop. There was one small glitch when we discovered that the store was not in its previous location but it wasn’t long before we arrived at the new destination, closer to the center of town. After admiring all the pretty fabric for a bit, we were off towards our next destination.

I had decided that it would be nice to walk around Bowdoin Pines in Brunswick. Having obtained descriptions and directions, I knew that there was parking behind the alumni house of Bowdoin College where we would find a kiosk with maps at the trail head. I found the parking area without any difficulties but there was no kiosk or anything else nearby to mark the trail head. At one end of the parking area, we found what looked like a trail leading through the woods. With a “what could go wrong” attitude we set off to explore the wooded area.

Walking through pine forests can be a bit tough as far as locating a trail is concerned since there is no undergrowth that would help distinquish a trail from the rest of the wooded area. Fortunately, the area probably received enough use from the college students that we could make out some kind of path through the trees. As we meandered along, my friend began collecting bird feathers (and there were a lot of them) while I focused on the pine trees themselves and the long runoff ditch beside us.

Eventually, we were forced to make a choice of ending our stroll at the back of a shopping center or crossing the railroad tracks and hoping the trail continued on the other side. Needless to say, we opted for crossing the tracks. Shortly after crossing the tracks, I found a few Skunk Cabbage in bloom. There was enough of them there that I found one that allowed me to study the green spiky ball inside the plant. After I took a picture, I stood up and looked around only to discover that I was surrounded by hundreds of Skunk Cabbage. It was another one of those moments when you finally see something and discover that that particular object is everywhere!

At some point the woods became increasingly wet, until the trail became impassable. We retraced our steps across the tracks and headed towards our next destination. Ultimately, we visited four quilt shops and a pine forest; a productive day indeed.

Designing a Quilt Back

After completing the quilt top for my big project of 2017, I surveyed the remaining fabric and thought it might be really nice if I could take the remnants and design something for the back. I knew I did not have enough for the entire back but I should be able to do something creative before shopping for additional supplies.

I turned towards my EQ7 quilt design software and reviewed my options under the various libraries. Here, I discovered a quilt layout section that included an option for medallion quilts. I selected a churn dash design  and proceeded to play with fabric placement from my leftover stash. There was enough of the floral print to use as one 35 inch square with fabric to spare for the corners.

Unfortunately, no matter how I arranged the remaining fabrics, I did not have enough to complete the process. If I used the brown in the corners, I did not have enough for the border.  Figuring I would use the brown only in the border, I tried putting the pink or the blue in the corners in place of the brown, but that did not leave me enough for the inside strips of those colors. In addition, I did not have enough of the remaining material to make the binding.

As it happened to be April and the Maine quilt shop hop was in progress, my daughter and I decided it would be necessary to go on a road trip in search of border fabric. The brown would be hard to match, so I decided that maybe I could find a green that might compliment the green from the front of the quilt. This would not be a problem since the two greens would be on opposite sides of the quilt. We visited three quilt stores that day and I successfully found a perfect color at one store and a suitable fabric for binding at another shop.

The next day I finished the backing but now I had no place large enough to take a decent photograph. One of the advantages of taking on large projects in the winter is that the snow serves as a nice back drop for these types of photos. While crocuses were in full bloom, coltsfoot flowers were peeking through the earth and the yards in the rest of our neighborhood were devoid of snow during this second weekend of April, our property still had plenty to spare. It was enough for me to get my picture.

The assembly was now done and ready for quilting. I think this one will be the first quilt I send out to a professional longarm quilter. Fortunately, my daughter fits the bill for that.