by Deborah Stout

As Kyle has mentioned in a few of his articles, we are new parents!  Since he has been working hard on keeping the newsletter going while also learning to be (a great) dad, I thought I would gift him a break by writing a guest article.  I chose the topic to be the state of Maine as that was the locale for many of his childhood outdoor adventures!

Maine: the 23rd state to enter the union.  Part of New England, Maine is the easternmost state, except for the portion of Alaska that creeps across the International Date Line.  Due to its location, containing both the Appalachian Mountains and a vast coastline, Maine features quite a variety of natural landscapes.

Maine's official flag

The coasts of Maine are notable in that they are not typical sandy beaches, but quite rocky with forested areas that nestle coastline.  This type of shore is referred to by geologists as a “drowned coast” because, while it has bays and islands, these features look (and are) more like valleys and mountain tops, where the water has come in and “drowned” them into bays and islands.  Some of these unique features are protected in the only National Park in New England: Acadia. This spot is certainly deserving of its own article in the future.

Other than the National Park, another famous feature of Maine is the mountainous portion.  One of the most famous crags is the terminus of the Appalachian Trail, Katahdin.  Katahdin is located in Baxter State Park and is the High Point of the state.  This location, too, is deserving of its own article, so I will leave details for another time. However, I will add that, in my opinion, Baxter State Park is National Park-level when it comes to quality and beauty.

Acadia National Park shoreline - photo by Chandra Hari
Katahdin, Maine's High Point - image by Hiking in Maine
Deborah on Katahdin's Knife Edge in 2017 - photo by Kyle Stout

The forests of Maine stretch from the mountains to the coast: 80% of the state is forested! This stat is the highest of all 50 states. Perhaps this is why Maine is nicknamed the Pine Tree State. The state loves its pines; not only is its state tree the Eastern White Pine, but its state flower is this tree’s pinecone! You may be familiar with the needles and cones already, as they feature prominently on the state license plates and flag.  Some other interesting facts about this state symbol is that the cones actually have more Vitamin C than lemons or oranges!  So, if you need help avoiding scurvy, pack a few pine cones!  Local Native Americans were known to use the pine cones and bark for medicinal purposes, grinding the inner bark into a powder that they used as a sort of flour for cooking.  They also used the resin of these trees for waterproofing various items, such as boats and baskets.

Also featured on Maine’s vehicle plates is the state bird, the black-capped chickadee.  The adorable chickadee is a small songbird whose name comes not only from its “black cap” marking but also for its call, which sounds like “chicka-dee-dee-dee.” They are not migratory birds, so they stay in and around their homes for the entirety of the year. If you have bird feeders, these are some little critters you can see year-round. For our readers outside Maine, they live in vast swaths of the country, too.  If you’re looking to attract them, they tend to favor sunflower seeds!

A black-capped chickadee - photo by Mick Thompson

We can’t mention Maine without mentioning an iconic mammal of the region: moose (or is it meese?).  Moose are a northern animal, so, in the United States, they are really only found along our border with Canada.  Maine is the perfect habitat for this giant animal.  Our newsletter author has already given us the rundown on this creature, so check out his article for a reminder of some of their interesting facts!

[Editor’s note: the author ended her article at that point, omitting an outro. It seems unfitting to ask her to work on her birthday, especially since she doesn’t know I’m publishing this today, so I’ll add the finish!]

Maine is truly a gorgeous state. Whether you’re into coast, or mountains, or both, it contains some of the world’s greatest terrain. Maine is so popular with tourists we would often see bumper stickers on native cars saying, “You’ve seen Maine, now go home.” With so much inherent beauty, that’s a tough directive to follow!

Further Reading and Exploration

Maine’s Official Website

Visit Maine – Tourism website

Baxter State Park – Official website

Acadia – National Parks Service

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