As you may recall, Wooster, our Wheaten terrier, likes to drive the car. (If you missed the revealing photo, go to http://www.thenaturalistsnotebook.com/our-blog/the-highly-evolved-dog.) Like Pamelia and me, however, Wooster prefers walking. And climbing mountains. While hiking the peaks of Acadia National Park with Wooster last fall, we decided to see how many other people (and dogs) like going up, up, up and up some more to reach pinnacles that offer a great view of ocean, mountains, lakes and forest. To that end, we created The Naturalist's Notebook's 28-mountain challenge.
Every Saturday morning starting on July 3 and continuing into September, photographer and naturalist Tom Lawrence will guide a hike up one or more of the 28 tallest trail-accessible mountains on Mount Desert Island. Tom will offer photo-taking tips, find scenic spots to shoot from and provide insights into the flora, fauna and geology. We will encourage participants to keep field notebooks of their hike, filling the pages with writing, quick sketches and photos.
In other words, we will help them create their own naturalist's notebooks.
Now, you may look at a map of Mount Desert Island and question whether the bald peaks of Acadia deserve to be called "mountains." They are rocky, but not Rockies. I certainly would never boast at The Explorers Club that Wooster had "summited" Cedar Swamp Mountain (altitude 942 feet).
But how many people want to carry oxygen tanks and fight snow-blindness just to get to the top of a mountain? Acadia's peaks are a reasonable challenge for a normal person—and some are tough and dangerous enough that one misstep could be your last. While descending a particularly steep path on Penobscot Mountain last November, I found myself backing down a natural cliffside ladder of rocks and roots while holding a 35-pound terrier on my shoulder. If Pamelia had not been steadying me from below with a hand on my butt, I might have ended up as a headline in various Maine newspapers. FOOL AND HIS DOG PLUMMET FROM SUMMIT, or some such.
Anyway, that route will not be included on the 28-mountain challenge.
Anyone who climbs all 28 mountains over the course of the summer (and has the photos to prove it) will be recognized at The Naturalist's Notebook with a laudatory exhibit. His or her name will become a verb, in the tradition of Xerox, Google, Robert Bork and Wally Pipp (you'll get that if you're a baseball fan). If the first to reach all 28 is, say, our friend Janet Higgins (who's fit enough to actually do it), then around the Notebook we will forever refer to climbing all 28 peaks as the act of "higginsing." Goal for 2011: I want to higgins!
Of course, given that Tom Lawrence will be leading all the hikes, and that Wooster more or less tows us up mountains, insisting on getting to the top first, the odds are that the act of climbing all 28 peaks will become known as either lawrencing or—my personal favorite—woostering.
1) If you didn't know it already, The Naturalist's Notebook is now on Facebook. If you're a Facebooker, please check it out and join us as fans or friends or whatever. Spread the word.
And if you didn't see the item that we posted on Facebook on Sunday, here it is:
A seven-year-old girl who came to the shop multiple times last summer just showed up for the first time this year. She had a fun visit and then left with her mother. Her mom returned a few minutes later. "I have to tell you what she said when we got to the car," the mom said. On a scrap of paper the mother had written her daughter's comment: “I think there's magic in my heart that comes from The Naturalist's Notebook that inspires me."
How cool is that?
2) Tom Lawrence will also be leading photography and notebook-making hikes and bike rides four afternoons a week. This is the schedule: Mondays: Jordan Stream Tuesdays: Little Long Pond Wednesday: Geology of Ocean Drive Thursdays: Bike Hike on the Carriage Roads of Acadia. The cost is $20 for an adult and $30 for a couple. Kids are free if accompanied by an adult. Please call 207-801-2777 by 5 p.m. the day before to reserve a spot.