Having spent much of the first seven months of our Gap Year traveling across the globe, Lee and I looked forward to returning to Maine and our annual two-week vacation at Saddleback Lake Lodge (SLL), just outside of Rangeley in western Maine. SLL is a small community of cabins on the shores of Saddleback Lake, and while the “lodge” is standing no longer, the community continues as part of Maine’s long history of remote hunting and fishing camps, with families coming each year to trade in city life for quiet days and star-filled nights. We found the place fortuitously over 20 years ago, idyllically situated at the end of a dirt road and feeling like it had been frozen in time from another era. We immediately fell in love, and it became a regular and much-anticipated vacation spot for our family every summer, where we can unwind with few distractions other than the striking lake views and echoing sound of loons calling from the shore.
We often mark our arrival to the area with a stop at the “Rangeley Lookout”, a spot just coming into town that boasts stunning views of Rangeley Lake and Bald Mountain that have tempted artists for decades with their changing skies.
This year, as always, we quickly slipped into the daily routine, starting with blueberry muffins, “the morning walk” (8:30A sharp, by the tennis courts!), kayaking, reading, and hanging out at the beach – a welcome respite from airports and schedules (at least for a few weeks!). And for Lee, lots (and lots) of blueberry picking – his favorite sport.
We were fortunate in our early years to meet a fantastic group of other families who came the same two weeks in August, whose children grew up alongside ours and have become long-time friends. As always, we enjoyed another year of catching up, hanging out at the beach, potluck dinners – and even a special night out at Bald Mountain Camps.
We were also thrilled this year to welcome some of the younger crowd to SLL for the first time – long-time friends Scott and Julie, and their sons Eliot and Gus. The boys kept us on our toes for the annual hike up Bald Mtn, and gave us another good excuse for visiting Pine Tree Frosty, in the fine the post-hike tradition.
We also continued the annual tradition of the group hike up Saddleback Mtn, setting out from the Appalachian Trail to Piazza Rock and up and over the summit for some dramatic views.
And most of all, we enjoyed an annual renewal in this magical place of peace, quiet, and amazing beauty – only 2 hours from home! (don’t tell Lee – we head out again soon!)
(and many thanks to Neil Levine Photography for the extra photos!)