Sebago

A rocking chair sits empty on the porch.

Fog hangs in the forest in Sebago, Maine

My mother watches the sunset over Hancock Pond in Sebago, Maine

|| Sebago, Maine is a blip on the radar to most people. At the outskirts of town you’re an hour away from the nearest city, and when you’re in town you’re forty minutes from the nearest highway. Stop signs exist only when roads cross in a way that necessitates legal signage and stoplights are non-existant. Houses are spaced far apart and yards are given room to breathe. Really, living in Sebago is about living in a certain amount of solitude. Solitude is rare and replenishing; these days it isn’t often that you’re treated to clear skies, quiet nights, and unpolluted horizons. ||

Stars Again

A silhouette of a star gazer watching the starry, night sky over Stanley, Idaho.

|| We left Salt Lake City and its light-polluted sky and found something better in Stanley, Idaho. Just outside of Stanley there’s a particular campsite on a particular hill; it’s hard to reach but worth the effort. You can see a full 360 degrees of clear sky from this campsite. A faint glimmer of light shines into the sky from town; it’s hardly enough to distract from the stars that fill the sky.

Nights like this remind me of Maine. ||

Dawn Light

Warm, early morning light turns the dramatic sawtooth mountains yellow near Stanley, Idaho.

|| Twenty-percent rain was what the forecast read. Really, this translated into about twenty, full minutes of rain–at two AM. I’ll take that.

We took Friday off from work with the hope of bagging a ride or two on the trails around Stanley before it rained. Luckily, we beat the rain. And after the clouds rolled in and rolled out at night, we were left with this incredible sunrise.

An incredible view awaited us at this campsite off the Nip Tuck road. Hunters rolled up and down the dirt road all morning, checking for deer and signs of a chance to earn an early tag. We left during the day, rode Fischer Creek, hit the hot springs near town, and then made dinner as a blast of frigid air rolled through camp. Clear nights bring cold temperatures, but that might be the only problem with being able to see the stars so clearly.

Without a blanket of clouds to warm the land, your toes turn cold in a hurry. ||

Starry Night

A camping tent glows under the starry sky at a campsite in Stanley, Idaho.

|| Light spills up and onto the branches of a tree at a campsite in Stanley, Idaho. This particular campsite is located at a hard-to-reach location on top of a hill. The hill overlooks the town of Stanley at night, and provides an incredible view of the Sawtooth mountains in the morning.

At night it’s easy to see the stars and pick out constellations. Salt Lake suffers from a massive amount of light pollution, and traveling to a place like Stanley drives that point home in spades. During the fall it can be downright frigid at night. Take a zero degree sleeping bag, a warm hat, and a down jacket. You’ll need all three.

High fire danger had skunked our campfire dreams all summer, until the ban was lifted the previous week. We built a toasty fire, heated some soup, and swapped stories until it was too late to think about anything other than bed. Although it might be different for some, I sleep like a rock when I’m camping. Back home there’s just too many distractions, but in a tent it’s just you and your heavy eyes. ||

McKenzie River Trail

Austin Holt riding a bike on the McKenzie River Trail in Oregon

|| Although I picked the spot and did the riding, I have to give the shutter props to photographer Re Wikstrom. Re snagged this photograph while we were ripping along the McKenzie River Trail in Oregon. Although the trail starts in a mass of volcano rock, it slowly snakes its way down to the river.

Despite the fact that you shuttle this trail (drive to the top, leave a car at the bottom), there’s lots of pedal time. A downhill bike would be fun for a few sections, but a mid-travel trail bike is definitely the way to go. My Santa Cruz Heckler held its own* through twisty forest sections, slick roots, and the technical bits of rock at the beginning.

No one mentions the bridges you have to cross during this ride. Some are wide enough to ride across, some have railings on both sides, and some are so skinny your bars barely creep through from start to finish. The rhythm goes: ride, ride, ride, pedal, pedal, pedal, StairMaster, and repeat.

Ride this trail, it’s one for the bucket list.||

PNW Waters

Re Wikstrom walking on logs on the beach in Oregon

|| Photos like this take me back to my love of the ocean and the coast. Here, photographer Re Wikstrom navigates a pile of Oregon’s oversized logs. This beach was somewhere off the Oregon trail. I’m sure someone could pick it out, but having only visited once I haven’t developed a name-to-place association.

Both coasts breed a hardy version of human being. Proof can be found in the number of thick-suit surfers milking every last ounce of energy out of the waves in this bitterly cold water. Water that’s this particular temperature drives away the protein-and-bleach-blond crowd. Not a bad way to go about surfing. ||

Stormy Singletrack

Skiers Shaun Raskin and Weston Deutschlander ride mountain bikes in Brian Head, Utah on a stormy day. This all-mountain and cross country trail is called Bunker creek.

And down came the rain. Sometimes you get lucky in Brian Head, and sometimes it just pours. According to the locals it had been raining since the first week in July, and this was simply a continuation. Shaun Raskin, Weston D, Re Wikstrom, and I rode for three days, through mud, cow turds, and across wet, slippery roots. Singletrack had turned to rutty ditches and fast, technical downhills turned into a two-wheel slip’n slide punctuated by trees.

The Location: Bunker Creek

Here Shaun and Weston pedal up a hill during a Bunker Creek shuttle ride. Later in the day we were treated to sun, just enough to turn the mud on our bikes to cement.

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