Last week was the first week of summer vacation for most schools in the area and families with kids are beginning to show up everywhere. It is beginning to look like a more “normal” summer after a couple of years with various COVID -19 restrictions.
One side effect of the pandemic has been increased use of the local hiking trails as more and more families have been “taking it outside.” Almost all of the summer camps and sporting camps are hosting campers and clients and vaccinated families are beginning to travel again. It is good to see our friends from away returning.
I recently went to French Mountain and discovered the parking lot completely full and some vehicle overflow onto Watson Pond Road. While there I met several groups including two young mothersfrom Mt. Vernon, each with multiple kids, who didn’t provide their names but told me they were trying to burn off a little energy hiking with their kids who were suddenly home on vacation.
As I headed up the trail, I met two families of military families staying at the Travis Mills Foundation (TMF) coming down. The Fanene Family from southern CA and Ms. Mackey from NC were nearing the end of their stay at TMF and were both effusive in describing how much they have enjoyed their time there. They were accompanied by a TMF staff member who is the wife of one of our local game wardens.
When I finished my hike, I headed to the Roundtop trailhead to do some scouting for early summer mushrooms. There I met the Myers Family from Frederick, MD, getting ready to head out on their mountain bikes on the “B” Trail, a meandering “beginner” mountain bike trail that runs from the Watson Pond Road down to Long Pond across a combination of State and 7 Lakes Alliance land. Dad’s family had spent summers renting a camp on Long Pond when he was growing up and he wanted to bring his kids up to relive some of the same experiences he remembered fondly from his youth.
The trout fishing has been good for the past month but is beginning to slow down as the water warms. Once the surface water temperature gets above 70°, the trout will tend to stay below the surface-mixed layer in the cooler water below the thermocline (currently about 20 feet down). I have still been catching some nice rainbows trolling streamer flies or small spoons just off the bottom in areas 20 to 25 feet deep.
Also check out the nice Northern Pike that Lauren Bartlett of Wells caught while fishing on Messalonskee Lake with Mike Guarino, and her friend, Jackson Ladd. Lauren is the goalkeeper for the Thomas College women’s soccer team as well as a midfielder on the women’s lacrosse team.
This area offers some great outdoor recreation, whether you like to hike, bike, birdwatch, fish, sail, or paddle a canoe or kayak. Pick up a map of the local trails at Day’s Store or from the 7LA at the Maine Lakes Resource Center. The 7 Lakes Alliance is sponsoring many events that may be of interest. Check the 7LA website for details. Keep an eye on the sign in front of the building as events are being added all the time. Get on their email notification list for updates.
I encourage everyone to take advantage of the wealth of recreational opportunities this area offers. Do like they used to in “the good old days” and take a kid fishing, or on a hike, or paddling in a canoe. It’s how memories are made. Or take a parent, so they can become a kid again.
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