I arrived 4 hours early after discovering there is absolutely nothing to do in Masardis. I gave myself a tour of the boat dock, the fire station/ town hall and the train station (which turned out to just be a sign reading "Masardis." I biked passed the wood mill, which this town is built around and went passed the Pentacostal church where a very nice woman named Cindy filled up my water bottle while her daughter Grace looked on.
I set up my hammock on the drive way near the road and chatted with my dad and brother and journaled waiting for 4 p.m. (the welcome email was pretty explicit about not arriving early).
At 3, a truck pulled out of the long driveway and Colin, who I would learn is the TA this semester stopped to say hi. "Are you the one who biked up here?" The answer was self explanatory as my bike was leaning against a tree. Colin did the 2016 fall semester at Jack Mountain as well as two shoe shoeing expeditions, one of which was a failure due to lots of thaw. He wears glasses, has a green headlamp and is a Mainer from mid state in the same town where my ax head was made.
I walked my bike down the long, bumpy driveway and met Christopher the other instructor. He did a semester course three years ago and now teaches and runs permaculture on the property and the youth program. He went to school in St. Louis but is originally from Baltimore. He was for a time in the seminary and now he lives at the camp full time.
Tim was down in an area with Christopher with a few out buildings and his truck. I said hello and he looked at me. "By the way you're dressed, I'm guessing you're Regina." I told him about my last two weeks traveling around Maine. "Well," he told me, "the next nine weeks should be easy then." Tim got a bachelors degree in history, then lived in Alaska for a year or so before getting a masters in teaching. He went on an expedition with some Cree Indians in Canada and put off getting a real job "until next year." That was 22 years ago. He has 60 acres that butt up against a huge swath of wilderness that's used for logging and not much else. His wife, Jennifer and two kids, ages 9 and 14 will come up next week from New Hampshire where they live 6 hours away.
Christopher brought my package from Don Merchant up to the area where we'd be staying: my ax, saw and spoke shave. I was the first one there so I got my pick of spots. I choose one not too far back from the cooking area and parking lot which nicely spaced trees for my hammock and enough room for my tent for whenever Sam arrived.
Molly arrived next on a plane from Alaska. She has a cousin in Boston who drove her up. He went sky diving and rafting while she came up to bushcraft school. She wasn't wearing a bra, doesn't shave her legs and works on a farm that grows lettuce. I can't tell how old she is. She's independent but seems young. Her boss bought her a knife made by the French that Colin was admiring. I don't know anything about knives other than I have a tendency to loose them at airports.
Allison arrived next from Miami. She flew into Preque Isle and stayed the night at the Black Water outfitters just south of town I passed on my bike. She's a junior studying biology at Boston College and she's taking a semester off. She doesn't eat gluten, wears glasses and had on skinny jeans and brand new hiking boots. She aspires to be a scientist for the national park service and wants to study abroad in Equator next semester.
I sat at the picnic table near our camp sites patiently waiting for Sam to bring the rest of my stuff. I had set up my hammock but didn't really want to unpack until I could set up my tent and have a place to do it. I cleared the brush from under my tent site, chatted with Colin and wondered about all the stuff I hadn't bought yet and how I would get to Walmart.
Zander is one of two 18 year olds in the course. He's from Quebec, Canada and his whole family came to see him off, including his girlfriend Zoe who I unfortunately mistook for his sister. He's the youngest sibling in his family and was wearing a bright orange bucket hat and matching tee shirt when I met him. His mother bid him adieu in French so he would quit procrastinating and set up his tent.
Sam Yusko is a man of few words. From Shaker Heights, his Dad drove two days to drop him off. Also 18, he told stories about his marching band, Boy Scout troop, and after prom. I was grateful to have my things, especially warm clothes and tent and thanked them profusely for bringing them then set to work setting up camp.
I had never set up this particular 4 person tent alone but it turned out to be a piece of cake. I had everything unpacked, my bike disassembled and laying inside and all my stuff in some semblance of order within an hour.
David, trail name "Giggles" is from Texas. Last year he decided to sell two houses and hike the AT. By the time the second house sold, it was too late to hike north so he through hiked southbound finishing just a few months ago in March. He said there is something of a rivalry between the north and south bound hikers and that the northbound hikers are worn out and hiking fast by the time they get to the 100 mile wilderness in Maine, which was Giggles favorite part of the trail. He says the bubble where north and south meet occurs between Massachusetts and New York. There would be months at the end of his hike that he didn't see anyone for a week. He speaks with a drawl and drove up over four days solo.
TJ is from South Dakota and I'm going to have to actively work hard to see his constant yammering as endearing rather than grating. He drove to Maine from Oregon. He said he went to college in the late 90s. My guess is he must be 40. He likes to name drop and show how much he knows, dominating the conversation. Perhaps he's nervous or insecure. I will do my damnedest to give him a fair shot.
Craig is from South Carolina on the Georgia border. He's difficult to understand. So difficult, in fact, that I thought he said he was from "South of Ireland." He got drunk last night with friends in NY, which was why he arrived late. He also has a car and I think he's my best bet in terms of getting a ride to Thursday night wing night at the local bar in Ashland.
We had a late dinner of spaghetti and sausage and talked around the fire. Tim told us we'd make apple wine and that there were lots of choke cherries up the road. He showed us Vega, which used to be our pole star and will be again in hundreds of years thanks to the tilt in the earth's axis. He calls bushcraft, "living without infrastructure."