I yipped extra loudly the morning of our first backpacking trip of the season – it was thirty minutes before my alarm was supposed to go off, but I was stoked! The sky was bright blue, a rarity in New England, and I all but leaped out of bed to the morning beverages brewing. While I waited for the water to boil, I ran through our packing list feeling a bit anxious – did we pack enough layers, socks, food… Luckily I choose to believe that being nervous in this circumstance means that whether you are prepared or not, you are excited about what’s to come.
We drove north from Portland, Maine, two hours and change, and asked for help at a gas station when our GPS stopped working. Luckily my partner Kaleigh and her southern charm found her way to just the right person to point us toward the trailhead. We pulled in a few minutes after our friends, and they said short and hurried hellos which included the irritated, “BUGS”, and “UGH” before they promised to move slowly so we could catch up. Slathering ourselves in Deet, we convinced ourselves it had to be better at elevation, and off we marched. The Brook Trail was as wet as it sounds, and even more buggy. We climbed the one-and-a-half miles at a record pace and were all drenched in sweat under our long layers by the time we reached the pond between Tumbledown and Little Jackson mountains.
We claimed our sites at even patches of tent-sized ground along the lake, and I immediately was thrilled by how quickly the Tufly SL2+ tent set up. While at roughly four pounds, the Tufly is a bit heavier than your ultra-light backpacking tent, but we felt the extra weight was well worth it for a short backpacking trip. We both measure in at roughly 5’9”, and there was a good extra foot of space at the base of the tent, which our pup immediately claimed as her own. There was room to spare for our drybag of extra clothes and a few other things. Our 60L backpacks fit under the fly easily and stayed dry despite a light misting overnight. The biggest plus of this tent, besides its pretty bright blue color (which is my favorite feature), was how tall it is! I tend to get a little claustrophobic in tiny tents, so to have the extra room above my head was a big relief.
Once our tents were up we set off on the second portion of the hike to the top of Tumbledown Mountain. Unfortunately for us we didn’t really find any relief from the bugs at the top either! After a few summit pics we headed back to our sites to make up some dinner and escape to the bug-free luxury of our tents. After a yummy meal of yellow curry with leftover carnitas Kaleigh had made, and GF chocolate walnut brownies I concocted, we went to bed with full bullies, tired feet, and itchy ankles. I’m not really one to complain on outdoor adventures because being slightly uncomfortable and in somewhat hairy situations is half the fun of it for me; but the bugs definitely pushed my limits. Luckily the Tufly was just as fast to taken down as it was to put up, and we were able to hit the trail in record time in the morning.
I’ll definitely be back to backpack at Tumbledown again, but I think next time I’ll wait until the fall when there are less bugs!
–Gretchen Powers is a documentary style photographer and videographer based out of Portland, Maine. Check her out at https://gpowersfilm.com/.