"You moved to Maine from California? Why?" You wouldn't be the first to ask.  This is part of a series of posts of my 200 mile kayaking trip up the coast of Maine by the Maine Island Trail. Previously: Introduction to Kayaking the Entire Maine Island Trail
First summer in Maine
My journeys along the Maine Island Trail begin in 2010, the year I finished my undergrad in Southern California.  Like many newly minted graduates, I had only vaguely sketched out what my future would hold. Also, like many new grads, I valued spontaneity and travel perhaps a little too much. Yes I certainly wanted a reliable future but I wanted to “see the world” or whatever that means. But instead of joining the Peace Corps or teaching English abroad like many of my ilk, I ran off to Maine. The subject of why I forsook the glorious climate and opportunities in Southern California for the comparatively rough and wild life out in Maine has been constantly questioned by Mainers and Californians alike. I suppose this story will serve as a backdrop for how I came to that decision.
I'll always remember this picture as the four colors of a Maine Summer
In the summer of 2010, I started working at a summer camp in the Western Maine mountains, an experience I’ll never forget and I will probably never fully understand how much it impacted my life’s trajectory. At the time, the trip just felt like a way out of what had essentially become my dull hometown. Southern California was a wonderful place to be a college kid, but I needed to experience something else. Many young people come from all across the east coast to work up in Maine for the summer and I just happened to have traveled from a further distance.
My first adventure on the Maine Island Trail
That summer was as idyllic as they come. The days were filled with meaningful work, the nights filled with good times and new friends. Time off was for exploration and adventure. In 3 months of work I believe I had maybe 6 days off and I used all 24 hours of them: hiking Mt Washington, hiking Katahdin, seeing the Lubec sunrise, Acadia and Portland. Maine suited me in almost every way; the wilderness was readily accessible, the cost of living was cheap and there was an abundance of adventure. Even the big city, Portland, was such a manageable city. All the art, culture and cuisine that people love about cities but drive ½ and hour outside of it and you’re in horse country. Eventually, while hiking along the coast of Camden, I heard about the Maine Island Trail. The Appalachian Trail of the water. A long distance kayak route. It sounded like something I had to try.
View First Maine Island Trail Trip in a larger map
At the end of that summer, with just a backpack and a sleeping bag, I ventured for the coast. I hitchhiked and took busses to get to Camden where I rented a kayak. Leaving from Lincolnville Beach, I circumnavigated Penobscot Bay under perfect conditions and got my first real taste of the coast of Maine.
Fast forward 3 years later and I’ve morphed in to some kind of responsible adult with a plan, a paycheck and a degree. Sure I had gone back to California at the end of that summer, but no sooner than I returned, I applied to school out in Maine and found myself out in the Far East once again. You can check out any time you like, but you can’t ever leave.Next: Leaving Portland and crossing Casco Bay