Maria climbing in the Camden Hills
(Nov 6, 2011)
By Maria Millard
I moved to Rockland, Maine in April. It was stark and drab. There was dirty, crusty snow piled around my apartment. I wandered downtown looking for friendly faces. But it was early season. Town was empty, just like my social life. I split with my boyfriend weeks earlier and somewhere inside was that burn to get out and start exercising. There’s nothing like a breakup to get motivated to work out. But I didn’t know where anything was—trails or training partners. Philosopher Wendell Berry writes, “If you don’t know where you are, you don’t know who you are.” I had some figuring out to do.
My cold loneliness began to melt when I realized I just needed to get outside. We all do. It doesn’t matter your means: paddling, hiking, biking. To know who you are you have to understand your physical and social landscape. For me it started at Barrett’s Cove on Route 52 in Camden where I got tied in with a group of native climbers, the expeditious pioneers who developed the area. They were welcoming, showed me around the cliffs and taught me more about anchor building and safe climbing practices. Every time I tied into a rope, I connected: with my partner, my self and the rock. The more I climbed with Alan Rees, Micheal Reeves, Hazel Groce and others, the more my sense of place grew. From the top of Barett’s Cove, I could see where I fit into the landscape, with my climbing partners, Rockland Harbor the Camden Hills and Lake Megunitcook. Swimming after climbing one afternoon, I saw a group of paddleboarders crossing the lake.
SUP division Megunticook Lake Race 2011
A Thorfinn Expeditions’ Stand Up Paddle Board group was enjoying the sunshine and a full-body workout. Later I was invited to a Thorfinn SUP Club paddle board BBQ on the lake: working out and eating, just my thing. A few days later I paddled around Indian Island off Rockport Harbor, another evening I circumnavigated Rockland Harbor and most recently, around Acadia’s Otter Cliffs. I’m now hooked on Paddleboarding. You can cruise around hidden coves, watch seals pop up near by, and get ripped. Okay, so I’m not ripped yet, but with another season paddling and racing with Thorfinn Expeditions, maybe I’ll get close.
Towards the end of the summer, I raced the Run for the Hills Belfast 10k not because I wanted to torture myself on a hot, hilly course but because I knew it was a chance to meet training partners. As a result, I met Reade Bower, one of the area’s barefoot runners, who hooked me into the Thursday 6 am Trail Runs group. My first run with them was at the Rockland Bog where I found a new network of trails and friends. The Bog has beautiful single-track trails, rolling hills with good views and links into the Georges Highland Path, another magical area to explore. Chatting with the group members, I learn about scenic loops, where to get the best post workout breakfast sandwiches and who to see for athletic injuries (Snow Sport and Spine). Wednesday morning speed work and Saturday races spun off the Thursday morning runs. Both introduced me to another group of avid runners who are hooked into what going on and are engaged community members. One runner’s family owns Jess’ Seafood Market, another the Free Press, there’s a top accountant, someone who works for the Island Institute, a few business owners and a physical therapist. Everyone has something to offer, something interesting to say. And each person is drawn to adventure—an eight mile race up three mountain peaks, paddle boarding Penobscot Bay, mountain biking rugged and technical trails, sailing expeditions, cross-country ski racing. The deeper into the network I became, the more I realized I knew where I was: an area rich with opportunities to run, climb, paddle board, hike, swim (and soon enough, ski) with enthusiastic, welcoming people.
Thursday 6am Trail Runners photo by Jason Gallant
Sure, it takes time to get connected to an area. But like Berry suggests, you have to get out and start exploring. As you do, you’ll come across others who are doing what you like to do—walking on the multi-use trail, enjoying Megunticook and the Camden Hills and soon enough, you’ll be chatting with new people in line to get up the chair lift. The more terrain we cover climbing, hiking, trail running, paddleboarding and swimming, and the more outdoorsy people we meet, the more we feel at home.
Hook into activity groups and local outdoor businesses to find out what’s happening and get involved!
-For more information on group runs, workouts and races, check out:
-Paddleboarding opportunities with Midcoast Maine SUP Club:
-For custom sailing, paddle boarding, and multi-sport adventures:
-For good deals on ski equipment and to connect with friendly skiers and riders, check out:
-For all your Mt. Bike and Cycling needs:
-Where to catch the Thursday 6am Trail Runs:
Maria Millard is a writer, Two-time All-American collegiate runner, educator and Rockland resident. She trains and competes with Thorfinn Expeditions’ Racing Team. Look for her at the Monday night YMCA meet-up, coaching the Wednesday night speed work at the Camden Hills High School track, at the Thursday morning trail runs and Saturday races. Workout details are found at: www.facebook.com/ThorfinnExpeditions