Watching my phone sink to the bottom of a 40-foot lake somewhere in Western Maine was not how I planned to start my seven-day getaway in the US's northeasternmost state. But surrounded by the outdoors, I opted to embrace the disconnect and worry about my phone troubles after I returned home. Luckily, my trusty Leica M6 remained safe and dry, and I had bag full of 35mm film along for the trip.
I didn’t know what to expect from my first visit to Maine, but with a loose schedule and a few areas mapped out, I had high hopes it was the ideal place to close out summer on a good note. When most people think of Maine, they imagine the rocky coastline and small, picturesque fishing villages along the Atlantic. But just 55 miles from Portland is Western Maine, better known as the Lakes and Mountains region, a lesser-visited area that's equally idyllic. This, and a small cabin a few miles from the Mahoosuc Mountain Range, was my base camp for the trip.
With my phone at the bottom of the lake just behind the cabin, I went for a canoe paddle every morning instead of the usual endless digital scroll. It slowed me down, and allowed me to appreciate the quiet moments around me: the sound of loons, Golden Eagles scanning the water for fish.
I spent the afternoons lounging at the cabin or hiking in the surrounding mountains. The nearby Rumford Whitecap Mountain Preserve was a moderate 5.8-mile out-and-back trail that rewarded us with 360-degree views of the surrounding landscapes and fresh blueberries ripe for the picking. Then there was Grafton Notch State Park, a conserved area along the Mahoosuc Range that's known to be some of the most challenging terrain along the Appalachian Trail. We opted for its moderate trails though, and still found plenty of waterfalls and gorges. After hiking, we soaked our tired bodies in Steps Falls Preserve's cascading water and natural pools.
"Like every other night, we ended the day sitting around the campfire as the sun faded over the lake."
After a few days, we exchanged our mountain views for an obligatory visit to the coast. Its craggy form creates endless places to see and explore—we trekked along the fog filled beach at Reid State Park, ate one-to-many lobster rolls from Five Island Lobster Co., had a drink at Bissell Brothers Brewing and made a stop at Portland Head Lighthouse before it was time to leave the tourist-filled streets behind and return to our secluded cabin in the woods. Like every other night, we ended the day sitting around the campfire as the sun faded over the lake.
The Mahoosuc Range runs just along the northern extension of New Hampshire's White Mountains. Getting there is a short trip, and a bucket-list drive up Mount Washington, the highest peak in the Northeast, seemed like the perfect way to end our trip. It didn't disappoint; winding our way up the narrow, dusty, and, yes, tourist-filled dirt road to the summit was both exhilarating and downright frightening. The views made every second of the thirty-minute car ride up the famed Auto Road worth it, and the summit had us forgetting all about the eight-plus-hour car ride back to Pennsylvania.