Interview with Billy
Tell us about your outdoors experience. How much do you like participating in outdoor activities?
Growing up in a small town in Aroostook County, I've been doing outdoor activities all my life. I grew up on a hill and could see Katahdin 50 miles away!! I think that alone inspired me to get out and hike.
I first climbed Katahdin in 1987 when I was 11. First time was a fail, because I refused to go up over the iron rungs on the Hunt Trail. :( Later that summer, we went up Saddle and that hike was a success!! :) I've been up and down over the iron rungs on the Hunt Trail since then, but it is still a little intimidating.
I love being outdoors, so try to get out as much as I can. As you could see from my recent trip report to the Allagash Wilderness Waterway, the 12 below temp. did not stop me, even though my beard was frozen!! Winter is not my favorite, but I try to make the best of it.
Hiking is my main outdoor activity, but I do like to just go for walks around town. I also go camping, but normally only once or twice a year. In 2018 I was lazy and rented a small cabin in Baxter State Park, so I didn't pitch my tent at all in 2018. LOL Who knows what 2019 holds?
If you knew someone who was thinking of starting to hike, what advice would you give them?
Take it slow. For hiking, start out easy. Basically start out easy with any activity. Take a friend/buddy along if possible. For camping, maybe start with a developed campground, with access to running water and toilets, and maybe work your way to more primitive camping. Most of my camping is rather primitive/remote. Picnic table, fireplace and outhouse are all there is. I do want those three things. LOL
What was your first GO excursion? How did it turn out?
Bald Mountain Trail in Camden, back on Jan. 7. Fred was the leader of the hike. His partner, Mo was also with us. Just the 3 of us, but was an excellent hike. I got to see a part of Maine I've never hiked in before. Fred and Mo are terrific guys, and would love to go hiking with them again, but distance is a problem. I was fortunate that Fred let me stay the night at his place, which helped make the hike possible. Thank you Fred and Mo. :)
What do you like about GayOutdoors?
I like the fact that there are other guys out there who like being outdoors and are not afraid to try new things. I was surprised that there are a lot of outdoorsy guys out there, but unfortunately none are very close to my location. But, just knowing there are outdoorsy guys out there helps me enjoy being on GO.
Describe Maine to our outdoorzy members who’ve never been there? Is there a lot to do if you are an outdoor enthusiast?
Well, since Maine is a big state, there is a huge difference between where I live and the coast, so I'll describe my part of the state.
There are no crowds in northern Maine. Even crowds in Baxter are uncommon, as the park limits the number of vehicles allowed through the gate for people hiking Katahdin. The northern part of Baxter does not see the amount of traffic/people as the southern part around Katahdin.
There are no huge mountains in my area, but Baxter State Park is reasonably close, and there are huge mountains there. Baxter is a hikers/campers paradise if you are into wild and remote and scenic. You MUST get out of your car to explore Baxter.
Even though there are no huge mountains immediately close to me, there are plenty of small mountains to climb. I pick harder routes to make it more of a challenge.
I go to North Maine Woods a lot. NMW is the size of Connecticut, and there is very little development. I hike small mountains, going to old fire towers. Many of the hikes are basically bushwhacks because the trails to the fire towers are no longer maintained.
Besides fire towers, there are other historic things to find. Last summer I bushwhacked through a cedar swamp to go see the remains of two Lombard Log Haulers along the Allagash River. I did not know the cedar was there until I reached it. It was either deal with it or turn around, and I decided to deal with it!! The hike sucked, but the destination did not. I've done other hikes to go explore remains of old farms along the St. John River.
I also just spend time driving on the woods roads in the area. I've logged thousands of miles driving on woods roads over my lifetime, more likely tens of thousands.
There is plenty to do in northern Maine for outdoorsy people. I do love the 4,000 + foot mountains, but I can have fun on smaller mountains as well. I do prefer to see a view, even if the view is only through a small opening in the trees.
I don't go canoeing, but plenty of that for people who like it.
Last fall BikeMaine held a ride here in Aroostook County over several days. Many people were surprised at what northern Maine has to offer, especially scenery. I don't bike, but Aroostook County is an excellent place as there is not a lot of traffic.
So yes, there is plenty to do in Maine if you are an outdoors enthusiast.
I post my hikes on GO to let people know there is stuff to do in northern Maine. And, just to clarify, Bangor is not northern Maine. LOL
What changes have you made to better our environment?
We have limited recycling here, but I recycle what I can. Save all of my returnable cans and bottles, even donate them sometimes to a local cause/charity. Last time was Boys Scouts. I do my best to pick up garbage if I'm out hiking.
What outdoor skill you wished you had?
I've never gone on an overnight backpacking trip. Something I might consider doing with someone who has experience. I currently don't have the gear to go on an overnight backpacking trip, so would be nice to borrow some first, before purchasing.
To save weight, what item do you no longer carry in your pack?
I don't save weight. I tend to over pack and carry too much. LOL
Last summer I did a 27-mile day hike in Baxter State Park, and I did purchase a water filter so I wouldn't have to carry as much water and Gatorade, so I guess that is a start.
What is a memorable mountain moment?
This is a difficult question to answer. Getting to the summit of any mountain is memorable. Riding out a storm under a boulder on the Hunt Spur on Katahdin was rather memorable. LOL
What is your favorite day hike?
I tend not to pick favorites, but Katahdin is at the top of the list. The Traveler Loop at the north end of Baxter is also a top pick, as it is almost as challenging as Katahdin, and probably 3/4 of the hike is in the open. Traveler Mountain is volcanic, so the rocks are different than Katahdin, which are granite.
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