By Jayne Gordon.

This was to have been the spring of trips to Maryland and Virginia to see family, to Costa Rica with Road Scholar, and New Hampshire to teach a course on Thoreau. Now my calendar, like yours, looks like the redacted Mueller Report.

I still need to get out, to explore, to discover new places, to plot and plan and anticipate new surroundings. But in this brave new world, that does not seem very likely. But wait! What did Thoreau say?

A man must generally get away some hundreds or thousands of miles from home before he can be said to begin his travels. Why not begin his travels at home? Would he have to go very far or look very closely to discover new novelties?

Really? Could this work? I reread Thoreau’s classic essay “Walking” to adjust my attitude. You can read it right here: Walking.

Well, I certainly have the time now that life-as-we-know-it is canceled. And I need to get outdoors for my sanity, strength, serenity, and spirit, that’s for sure. I have always loved walking. But enough to sustain me for an unknown number of weeks?

Worth a try. I have decided to try to hike a new trail every nice day as my new project. The self-imposed rules are these: I have to radiate out in all directions from my home base (very close to the Skidompha Library). That way my journeys will encompass a variety of coastal and inland terrain, from shoreline paths to upcountry forests, fields, and streams. The trails can’t be more than 20-30 minutes’ drive, and they can’t be the well-known ones that could be crowded or ones I have walked more than once before. They are ideally about 2-3 miles, because I am doing this solo, and can’t take huge risks.

And here was Thoreau, again:

My vicinity affords many good walks; and though for so many years I have walked almost every day, and sometimes for several days together, I have not yet exhausted them. An absolutely new prospect is a great happiness, and I can still get this any afternoon.

Is it possible to find enough new trails to make this work? It sure is, and here is where to look.

First, we are blessed with a wonderful range of conservation organizations in our area, and they all preserve networks of trails:

Coastal Rivers Conservation Trust (the old DRA + PWA)
Boothbay Region Land Trust
Midcoast Conservancy
Medomak Valley Land Trust
Chewonki Foundation

In addition, these websites can link you to trails in every town around:

Maine By Foot
Maine Trail Finder

And you can also Google something akin to “Alna Trails” or “Bremen Walks” and find even more choices of local paths.

I have been doing this now for two weeks straight. I come home feeling more upbeat, more alive. So I hope you will join me in this project, not by walking with me, but by trying out trails of your own and sharing your finds and insights with all of us.

You will now see in the Order of Service a Walk of the Week based on my ramblings, (or “saunterings”, as Thoreau called them). And he gets the last word:

“Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads.”

Jayne Gordon,
MUUF Board Member