After a long day walking along the shaded ridge line (past Taylor Mountain), catching glimpses of the valley below, we descended to a spectacular swimming hole. Our timing was impeccable, as a local family was there swimming and they invited us back to their farm for a home cooked dinner. It turns out that Thorpe and Kirsten Moeckel used to live in Bowdoinham, Me, just across the river from us in Dresden.
The walk along the ridge line paralleled the Blue Ridge Parkway, which we crossed many times. The parkway displaced the original location of the Appalachian Trail, and serves as a reminder of the competing interests that all seek to use the ridges. Motorists and bicyclists who are forbidden from using the AT enjoy the spectacular scenery of the parkway. But it is also a reminder of the hard work of many volunteers who fought to ensure that the AT did not simply parallel mountain ridge parkways, but remained a wilderness footpath.
Now, down in the valley, after a dip in Jennings Creek, we found ourselves enjoying the splendor of Arcadia Farm. Thorpe, a poet and paddler, teaches MFA students at the local university and, together with Kirsten and teenage daughter Sophie, they run Arcadia Farm and raise young twin (human) kids, together with the many sheep and goat kids. They recently considered moving back to Maine, and were looking at the farm down the road from us where we would take our weekly pilgrimage on bike, ski, or canoe for fresh baked bagels every morning.
We enjoyed a feast that included fresh goat milk and many duck eggs. We pitched our tent under a large sugar maple in their yard, then spent the morning helping with farm chores: milking the goats, painting the boards that will circle the base of the yurt they’re raising on Friday, and weeding in the garden. RobinHood learned a lot about goats, which Mama Bear has been planning to add to her Big Ash Farm (which takes its name from the big white ashes that can be seen when Mama Bear weeds under the shade of the giant trees in our yard), but which she delayed acquiring because of our impending hike.
Thorpe was even kind enough to pass along some unwanted shoes to replace my thread-bare pair. It felt like home, spending time on their farm and talking about all the Maine places we’ve shared in common (if not quite contemporaneously). And the kids were instant companions
We’re lucky to be able to pepper our woods experience with these rural Meccas.