There is a very special place in Maine where a lake sits in between two mountain tops.
I had summited Tumbledown Mountain in Weld, Maine several times since moving to Maine four years ago and when I got my foldable Oru Kayaks a spark was ignited. Could we carry these foldable boats up to the pond? It was three miles up a rocky trail that got a bit technical towards the top. The boats weren’t that heavy I told myself, and we could get the backpacks for them. We could make it happen, and better yet we could make it happen during peak foliage when the leaves on the trees were bright yellow and red. I gathered my strongest, bravest, most enthusiastic, type-two-fun-seeking friends and we set off to be the first documented full length kayaks paddled on Tumbledown.
We determined that firsts aren’t reserved for mountaineers and professional athletes. Sometimes all it takes is a little time thinking outside the box for someone totally ordinary to do something that’s never been done before.
The weekend I had planned for this maiden voyage also ended up being the weekend of Billet Night at Officer Candidate school. I had two coasties on the trip with me including Kaleigh’s best friend at the academy’s husband. We were out of cell phone range so we made a pact to drive out of the way of the mountain the following morning to get some service to find out where we were heading before joining the rest of the crew for the climb. On eve of the decision that would send me anywhere this country touches water I sat around a campfire with some of my dearest friends with a warm feeling of calm surrounding the kindling which was about to ignite into anxious terror as I tossed and turned all night. When the words “Kodiak, AK” flashed on my cell phone screen I gasped and was filled with delight and fear, glee and trepidation and I’m glad I had a mountain to climb that day and a dream of my own to make a reality to distract me from the visions of crazy weather, bears, and complete darkness that was sure to be my life in Alaska. When I got up to the top of the mountain and snapped what I thought might be the winning picture I felt both great pride in myself for succeeding in a crazy plan but also strength in knowing that I could do it alone and that I would always be able to find light in the friends around me even when Kaleigh was away at OCS or underway on her ship.
In the Tumbledown collection of goods you can find the original Knits by Gretchen Tumbledown Toque with criss crossing mountains and evergreen trees in Turmeric, Olive and Frost inspired by the colors of the leaves, the trees and the white kayaks. There are two fair isle hats, my favorite style of hat to knit (ask anyone I went to college with) in burnt ochre and teal. The three ring styles for this collection include Fresh Foliage, Coastie - an homage to the friends on the trip and the momentous occasion of billet night, as well as DeStarry Night, named after the two ladies who have been up for more of my adventures than I can count.
I hope you enjoy! We can’t wait to hear what you think! Xx G & K