Adventure photographer Krystle Wright has gone to the ends of the Earth to get the perfect shot—but that doesn’t mean she can’t enjoy a quiet camping weekend like the rest of us. When she’s not paragliding in Pakistan, paddling in Mongolia, or trekking in Antarctica, she likes to get back to basics: being outside among good scenery and good company.
For that she came to the stunning vistas of Maine’s Atlantic coast for one of L.L.Bean’s Outdoor Discovery Programs. These all-inclusive itineraries offer dozens of ways to get outside, including popular overnight weekend excursions. She began her weekend at the company’s flagship store in Freeport. The store is open 24 hours a day year-round, making it the ultimate starting point whenever the great outdoors call.
Arguably the best time to heed that call is in autumn, when Maine’s famed coast bursts with color. Led by an expert guide, Wright began exploring by bike. “The first day we got up at the crack of dawn and jumped on some bikes and went around the Freeport area. It’s perfect for road cycling because it has a little bit of everything,” she says.
She followed idyllic rural roads through the quiet countryside to the rocky coast, taking in quintessential New England charm at every turn. Maine is known as Vacationland for good reason. Every season brings about new ways for outdoor enthusiasts to explore, with beaches and surfing in the summer, whale-watching and fly-fishing in the spring, festivals and apple-picking in the fall, and skiing and snowmobiling in the winter. Add a classic Maine lobster roll, farm-to-table cuisine, or craft beer to the mix and it doesn’t get much better. The seaside paradise inspired painters like Andrew Wyeth and writers like Henry David Thoreau to create works honoring its spectacular natural beauty.
That beauty was particularly striking to Wright, who hadn’t seen changing foliage before. The native Australian lives a nomadic lifestyle that takes her all over the world, but she had never seen this corner of it. “You can’t go wrong that time of year, when the leaves are turning red and gold,” she says. “In Australia, we really don’t get that sort of thing, so I was intrigued by the trees turning colors. Most of my time in the U.S. has been spent in the West because of the mountains, but the coastline along Maine was really stunning.”
After a lunch break, Wright’s guide showed her the view from the water. They paddled kayaks along part of Maine’s 3,500 miles of coastline and explored one of the many secluded islands of Casco Bay. Wright took in the salt breeze and color-draped scenery, but her favorite thing about the experience was the wildlife. “There were harbor seals everywhere, which were really adorable because they’re very shy,” she says. “The next thing you know, you turn around and there’s a little head looking at you from 10 meters away.”
The area around Maine’s craggy coastline, carved by glaciers thousands of years ago, is also home to bald eagles, Atlantic puffins, and migrating whales. The Lighthouse State has more than 60 historic lighthouses along its coast, which serve as reminders of the area’s maritime history.
“I thought the day was really amazing because I got to just be outside and simply have fun with it,” Wright says. “It didn’t have to be climbing a first ascent or anything big like that. It was just a really beautiful, easy weekend that anyone could have done at any fitness level.”
As sunset approached, Wright headed back to an oceanfront campground for the night. She says that sitting around the campfire during dinner, reflecting on the relaxing day she just had, has inspired her to slow down. “There are some days when I wake up, see an email, and the next thing you know I’ve spent the entire day working inside,” she says. “It was nice to be reminded of the simple things—that it brings a lot of joy just to be outside.”
- Nat Geo Expeditions
See for Yourself
L.L.Bean offers dozens of Maine Adventure Trips, ranging from two to seven days. Activities include hiking, biking, kayaking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and even ice-fishing, depending on the itinerary, and can also be customized to fit specific interests. The family-friendly trips include guides, meals, and all the necessary equipment for each activity.