Somewhere in the midst of thirty lost years of employment in the United States Postal Service a friend and fellow employee, a letter carrier, but also a hiker, came to me with a post card he was to deliver. At the time I didn't stop to think how odd it was that he was a letter carrier and an avid hiker. I mean, who in their right mind would spend their work week, being forced out no matter what the weather, to walk around with a heavy bag on their shoulder, then spend their free time which could be spent in any way they wished, walking around, no matter what the weather, with a heavy bag on their shoulder? He showed me the post card, I immediately flipped it over to see what was written. Postal privilege we always called it, if you mail a postcard, we get to read it and share some insight into what you're doing. "No," he said, "Look at the front..." When I was done reading I turned it over. There was a crude map of Mount Blue State Park and the Weld area of Maine. It showed dotted-line routes to the summits of mountains with names like Mount Blue, Little Jackson and Tumbledown. Neither of us had ever heard of them, let alone been to this part of Maine. I photocopied the postcard, just the map part, for both of us. I still have it somewhere, but can't find it at the moment. Over the years I kept it in the back of my head as somewhere I could visit if and when I ever ran out of White Mountains.
Well, I could never run out of White Mountains, but after a few difficult returns to the Whites to places we often frequented with Emma, it was time to visit someplace we had never been. It was still difficult to camp and hike without her, but it was nice to cross a stream where she had not stopped to drink a dozen times, or to step around a mud puddle when I didn't recall a time that she had wallowed there. We miss her, we will always miss her, there will always be difficult moments, but we are slowly learning to cope. No doubt there will be another dog in the future, when we are ready, but until then we are just trying to cope. We found that Mount Blue State Park was a marvelous place to spend some time learning to cope. We pulled in at the gate, there was no ranger at the station. The instructions said to pick a site and return for payment in the "Iron Ranger", just like the Whites. This was great already, but it got better. We drove around the 160+ campsite and realized there were only two other campers there. I was thrilled!
We set up camp beside a path to the beach on Webb Lake, and walked down to the deserted beach. The view across the still-as-glass water to Mount Blue was jaw-dropping. We wandered about and explored the beach area and some group sites before making our way back to camp to get our kayaks for a paddle. The water remained calm, and we had a beautiful mid-October day paddle. The wind never picked up and the lake remained like glass as we paddled first to the south end of the lake, then back towards the north. The lake was big enough that we decided to save paddling to the north end for another paddle, tomorrow or the next day. Distant loons called and we were struck at the quiet that went unnoticed until they had called. The water shone with patches of brilliant color as it reflected some peak foliage from the edges of the lake. The absolute still water made the mirror image of brilliant leaves seem more real and perfect than the splendor they reflected. There were Sun Dogs on each flank of the 22* Halo that surrounded the sun, a perfect fall day! At day's end there was some spectacular afterglow transposed onto the still water when the sun set below the hills.