Scenes From Last Summer’s Great Maine Scavenger Hunt
Our salute to the hundreds of Down East readers and fans who took to Maine's byways and backroads in 2019.
I began the adventure on my own as a newly single person after 20 years, to find a sense of independence. It soon became an adventure that I brought my younger son along on. He’d just turned 11 when we set out to climb Ragged Mountain, in Camden, which would go in the books as a misadventure. We started at the base of the Camden Snow Bowl. I had packed a backpack full of water and snacks to enjoy on the hike, and I’d looked up the trail online. We were set to go. I love mushrooms, and we were enjoying finding new species and some very tiny frogs. We had been walking for a long time, which didn’t add up with what the directions said. I got disoriented because all I saw was trees. Eventually, my son had eaten and drunk what I’d packed. I decided to call my older son to let him know that we were in the middle of woods somewhere. I asked him to locate me on his phone in case the game wardens needed to rescue us in the middle of the night!
Then, we happened upon an opening at the top of the mountain. At this point, I was determined to follow the trail back to the bottom. My son was exhausted, and I discovered my true strength as I carried him in my arms most of the return trip. We ended our trek after 5½ miles, and in the end, the photo was probably my favorite. We even had a stint on the road, as we came out in a different spot than we began — I jogged with my son on my back. It was a little more than I planned for, but I wouldn’t change a thing because I was with him.
“I took playing with my food to the next level. I wrestled in it [in a kiddie pool of mashed potatoes, at Fort Fairfield’s Maine Potato Blossom Festival]. Such a starch experience. I was victorious, and while I felt creamed for a few days after, I was not sour about it.”
— Kevin Sutherland
We ended up getting stranded on Cranberry Island because there was no room on the return boat. A group of super nice guys, from KSR Construction, in Bar Harbor, happened to be heading back on their private boat after a day of work on the island, and they let us ride along with them. We actually made it back before the other boat did! There are nice people everywhere, and we met many of them during our adventures.
“I Had been to Land’s End on Bailey Island before. Never noticed the statue of old Elroy Johnson. That’s what the hunt is all about at times — noticing!”
— Sandy Belanger
I completed all the tasks and grew in some surprising ways. There are the things you would expect — I now know how a mustard stone mill works, I have paddled and hiked outside of my comfort zone, and I somehow survived mashed-potato wrestling in Fort Fairfield.
But I noticed when I looked at the first selfies I took, there were other, more personal ways I grew. I had longer hair, which was often frizzy, hot, and uncomfortable. It was often pulled back in a bandana so hair wouldn’t blow into my eyes while I was “adventuring,” as my daughter and I came to call it. I had wanted to shave it for a long time but worried what others would think. I finally chose me and shaved it. I have never been more comfortable and happy, and it shows in my photos. Also, at the start of the hunt, I would crop out my body. You only see my head floating across the bottom of the picture. I think the first swimsuit selfies cured me of my insecurities here. Once I saw how even if I posted a full-bodied picture, I only saw joy, I stopped judging my imperfections. I wanted my daughter to see that I can love my whole curvy, head-shaved self.
“I’ve lived here 20 years and never realized all the beauty this state has to offer.”
— Arleen Masselli
Doing the scavenger hunt was my mom’s idea. I love spending time with her, so of course, I agreed when she asked if I wanted to try to do all the items on the list. So many great adventures, but I think my favorite had to be taking part in the Tough Tater 5K at the Maine Potato Blossom Festival in Fort Fairfield. I’m not a very fit person, so it felt really great when we finished. Soaking wet and worn out, but we did it! I grew up on the coast and have since spent a good deal of time in central and western Maine, but the scavenger hunt took me farther east than I’d ever been. Also, I’d never spent any amount of time in the County previously. I love going new places — especially with my mom.
“In Acadia, we participated in ‘flossing Mr. Rockefeller’s teeth’ — i.e., cleaning out the brush between the stones lining the carriage roads. My knees hurt, but my heart felt wonderful!”
— Ted Repa
When I participated in the scavenger hunt in 2018, I did so thinking that it would be my farewell tour of my home state for a few years, as I’d intended to start a five-year national parks tour in February of 2019. A breast cancer diagnosis put my tour on hold while I addressed my health — and meant I would be in Maine for the summer of 2019. Frustrated and disappointed, I decided the best way to get through it would be to go “hunting” with Down East again.
All I can say is thank goodness for the hunt! It gave me something much more fun and interesting to focus on, and it provided me with a visual chronicle of my hair growing back in! I hope I won’t be around Maine to do it again this year, but if I am, I know it will help me stay sane. Thank you, Down East. What a gift!
The Honor Roll
Cathy Ames, Orland Chuck AuCoin, Scottsdale, Arizona Ed and Cheryl Avis, Litchfield Heidi Baird, Lisbon Falls Sandy Belanger, Augusta Susan Benoit, Portland Carolyn Cavanaugh, Rockport Elizabeth Snuggs-Charles, Belgrade Lakes Christy and Dan Crocker, Hallowell Angela Domenichelli, Belfast Chris Draves York, Freeport Pamela Emery and Haydon, Auburn Beth Fox, Cumberland Judy Gagnon, Cumberland Center
Lauren Giroux, Freedom Julie Hallett, West Gardiner Valerie Hill, Bangor Susan Jones, Union Mark Kent, Carolyn Lex, and Katie and Maisie Kent, Orono Lorraine Kingsbury, August Michelle Michaud, North Vassalboro Linda Parent, Lagrange Ted and Betty Repa, West Boothbay Harbor Kevin Sutherland, Saco Amy Tan, Hancock Su Wood, Belfast
(Completed More than 30 Tasks!)
Tim and Shannon Bouchard, Orrington Nancy Brown, Freeport Grace Coulombe, South Paris Donna Dashnau, New Sharon
Amanda Keddy, Fairfield Arleen Masselli, Farmington Deb Maxfield, Harrison Donna and Ken Snowman, Orrington
Cindy Andrews, Cumberland Alexyss Baird, Lisbon Falls Jacob Baird, Lisbon Falls Edwin Charles, Rome Heather Josselyn-Cranson and Seraphina Cranson, Sudbury, Massachusetts Donna Dailey, Mineola, New York Deborah Dugas, Cumberland
Jon Graham, with Gus, Penny, and Jessica, Waterville Scott, Stephanie, and Lucia Herrick, Owls Head Jonathan Knock, Melinda Corey, and Caleb Knock, Albion Candy Perry and Carol Ann McMahan, Owls Head Julia Fritz and Patrick Cobb, Scarborough
Thanks and congrats to everyone who participated in last year’s Great Maine Scavenger Hunt! We hope we can do it again soon!