Chapter Seven: My Introduction to Camp

NOTE: "Semi-Rough: A North Country Journal," is now available as a complete book, that includes these on-line essays and more. If you'd like a free pdf to download to your computer, send me a note at and I'll email you a copy.

In 1969, we were living in Decatur, Georgia, and Sally's dad, Stuart "Slim" Harris, was dying of cancer in Massachusetts. Sally and the kids had flown north to be with Calista as the end neared. After Slim died, I drove to Massachusetts and then, with the family and Calista, made my first visit to Camp. Cal had spent so much time at Camp with Slim, she couldn't bear the thought of giving it up now that he was gone. She suggested we spend some time there with her so she could begin to "make some new memories."

We took both our cars to New Hampshire, as Cal was planning to stay on there after we left to return to Georgia. Our low-slung Dodge Coronet wouldn't have made it even part way up the rough Dummer Hill road, so we left it at Mildred Bacon's house at Dummer Corner, and took Cal's VW Combi up the hill to the Powerline. We loaded packs with supplies we would need for a day or two, and started off on the mile and a half walk into Camp.

As I noted in Chapter One, the woods on the way to Camp were not "old growth," but little logging had been done since the 1940s, so we walked beneath a dense woody canopy all the way to the edge of our field. Slim hadn't tried to maintain a meadow at Camp, but with judicious use of a bush scythe, he had kept a nice clearing in the woods. With him unable to visit and work at Camp for a year, the "clearing" was not as clear as formerly, but it was still a nice surprise in the midst of the dense forest.

I didn't keep a journal on that first visit - just a bird list - and don't recall a lot of the details, nor do I clearly remember my first reactions. It was August, so I didn't get to experience the notorious Dummer Hill "Big Four" - the black flies, midges (no-see-ums), mosquitoes and deer flies that can make some spring and summer days on the Hill truly miserable. I think the weather during our short stay was fairly placid - the few photos I took on a drive north to the Connecticut Lakes and on an overnight hike into the Appalachian Mountain Club hut at Zealand Falls show mainly blue skies. August is an "iffy" month; it is often fall-like, but can have very humid periods or can be influenced by the southern hurricane season.

I think that I wasn't particularly impressed by my introduction to Camp, and to New England. To a Westerner used to tall mountains and wide open spaces, Camp seemed a litle confining, and New England seemed a little too tame. Also, I was pretty sure our time in Georgia would be fairly short, we would soon be back in the West, and I wouldn't be seeing much of Camp in the future. The next 40 years would show that the only thing I was right about is that we wouldn't be in the South very long.

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