My Journey Climbing Mt. Douglas

Hiking is a weird concept for me to understand. Part of me gets why people like it, it’s physical, it’s outside, you get a nice view at the end, etc. That being said: FUCK hiking. I recently went with a friend of mine, and it was quite a day.

First, I had to be up at 8am, which is usually when I’d be in bed, watching YouTube videos of retail workers snapping and beating up rude customers. After rousting myself out of bed, I decide to be proactive and pack a cooler; if I’m climbing a big ass mountain, I’m gonna need a few beers to take the edge off. After finishing up my hiking survival kit, I drove over to my friend’s place to pick her up and head out. Now, she’s a bit more experienced than I am, and she’s definitely in better shape than I am, so when she said that Mt. Douglas was an easy climb, I was a tad skeptical. Upon arrival, I notice that the parking lot is half a mile away from the start of the climbing path, and primarily uphill. Great, I get a taste of what I’m in for today.

After trekking up the road to the trail entrance, I notice that the trail is awfully steep for a so-called “easy climb” and begin to question my decision. As we begin the climb, I notice that I forgot my water bottle in the car, half a mile away. After weighing my options, I decide that Miller Lite is going to have to do for the time being.

About half an hour into the hike, my legs start to get sore, and we take a break. From this height, I can see the entire valley, and it’s breathtaking. Even from halfway up. My friend starts talking about all of these crazy places she wants to go, and I’m thinking “Let’s settle down there, we haven’t even finished this hike, and we’re talking about going on another one?” I spark up a joint, refresh my beverage, and try to muster the energy to move.

Another half hour later, we’re almost at the top, and I’m running out of gas. I think to myself, if some crunchy granola hippy can do this tripping face on acid, I can too. I channel every 80’s action hero and football player and push through the pain. Fuck, I need to get in shape again. After running out of inspirational 80’s figures, we reach the top of the mountain.

I get it now. I get why people do this to themselves. From the top of the tower pictured above, you can see for miles. I can even see Sebago Lake, and I’m betting if I had some binoculars, I could see my house too. As I’m still enjoying the scenery, and my third beer-flavored water, my friend is getting ready to head back down. I’m not having any of that, I spent 2 hours busting my ass to get here, I’m gonna stay here as long as I damn well please. I’m thinking about how much of a bitch it will be to climb/fall down this mountain, and I’m trying to stall as much as I can so I can climb down this mountain safely and not look like an out-of-shape disaster. Before I go down, I get the wonderful idea to pee off the face of the mountain, and I stand by this decision, because it was awesome. I finish my last beer, and mentally prepare myself for the return journey.

The thing about going down a mountain; it’s a little easier than I thought. As we descend, I start to get a feel for the terrain, and begin to walk a little faster. Mistake. Not even 15 seconds after adjusting my pace, I trip on a root and fall on my face. After laughing to myself about how funny that probably looked, I reassess my speed. We’re now about 3/4ths of the way down, thanks gravity. We finish up our climb and walk back to the car, where I immediately fall into my seat, exhausted and a little buzzed. I think to myself, hey, it’s better than being at work.

The Happiest Place on Earth

I’m incredibly lucky. Have you ever had someone tell you to “Go to your happy place”? Well, it’s a little easier for me to do since I can actually physically go to mine. Ever since I can remember, my family has gone up to Frye Island Maine, it’s a tradition I hope to pass down someday. I’ve been going up for almost 20 years, and it’s part of the reason I am who I am today. This place means the world to me, I’ve even got the town crest tattooed on my chest.

Frye Island is nestled in the middle of Sebago Lake, not quite an hour away from Portland. This leafy-green paradise is where I’ve spent every summer since I was six years old, and I don’t regret a second of it. The people there are, for the most part, warm, friendly people who will help out their neighbors at a drop of a hat. Islanders are a different sort of folk. The majority of them are retired folks over 60 who come up here when Florida gets too hot for them, but there are people from all walks of life here. I met all my best friends here: the people I care about the most just happen to live within walking distance of my house. The Island is a place befitting a Steven King novel, it seems permanently stuck in the past, and that’s not a bad thing.

Frye Island is unique. You can see that before you even get there. Before you even get on the Island, you have to take a ferry that’s older than most of the people riding it, over to the landing. Once you get off the ferry, you might be surprised at what you see: golf carts as far as the eye can see. People use golf carts because 1) it’s a small island, 2) because it’s easier on the wallet than driving a car, and 3) because it’s damn near impossible to fuck up driving. Another fun little secret: people here drink like Prohibition starts at the end of the day.

The alcohol consumption of Frye Island is unmatched by any community, except maybe Wolf of Wall Street-style stock brokers. Just last night I saw a 50 year old man drink himself into such a stupor, that he decided to cut through the neighboring golf course to get home, which is the exact opposite way he came. These people party like a sorority girl on her 21st birthday, another time I was at the bar waiting for my drink, only to have a Jager Bomb dropped into my hands by a 45 year-old woman who was buying them for the whole bar. I’ve gotta hand it to them, I can’t drink like these people do, and I’m no slouch myself.

Frye Island is full of things to do, from waterskiing to golfing, to tennis and basketball, to arts and crafts and trivia. My love of golf was started at the Frye Island Golf Course, most of the hats I own I bought at the pro shop, the course is gorgeous, and just challenging enough that you can play it repeatedly, but not too tough that you cuss out the course and quit. The Island is also home to Mike Anson, a local musician who breaks out his guitar and sings for the crowd and cracks jokes at the bar. If you just want to sit back and relax in peace, don’t worry, Frye Island has 14 public beaches for you to choose from.

I love everything about Frye Island; I love being woken up by the sound if waves crashing against the rocks, I love the subtle hum of boat engines in the distance, I love driving to the beach and drinking a case of beer and enjoying the sun, and most of all, I love the people that make the community great. If you ever get the chance to come out to Frye Island, do it. You won’t regret it, and you might even want to come back.