If there's one thing that keeps me up at night, giddy with anticipation (and blogging at 3:30am), its a good treasure hunt. If it goes on for weeks and keeps me returning to the same glorious, outdoor location over and over again - even better.
This treasure hunt started with one of my regular outings to explore a new hiking trail. I wrote about this trail in my last post "Hermit Island Loop, Phippsburg". Here's the post if you missed it: https://www.outdoormovementproject.com/post/hermit-island-loop-phippsburg
My friend Matt told me about this incredible hike, which is only open to the public during the winter months when the Hermit Island Campground is closed for the season. This hike was brilliant and as soon as I got back home, I texted Matt to thank him with some photos from my trip. He replied with photos from his trip...which included three shots of these spectacular cliffs surrounding a cove (think Cliffs of Moher in Ireland).
Photo credit: Matt McKinney
What the, what? How in the Sam Hill did we miss these?? I immediately pulled out the paper map I'd been given from Hermit Island's Head of Maintenance. And there it was. The cliffs of Worumbo. Right there on the map. Except we had taken the blue trail, not the red trail...which would have taken us closer to the coastline, and this stunning landmark.
I was not about to miss out on seeing, with my own eyes, something so spectacular. Especially when it was only an hour from Portland. Lucky for me, the following week offered the perfect opportunity. Thursday would be an 11:10am early release day for Longfellow Elementary, so I planned to have my afterschool campers for most of the day. No better way to make use of the extra time than a trip to find Worumbo. It was also St. Patty's Day. No better day to seek out Maine's take on the Cliffs of Moher.
We packed up the car with five kids, six backpacks, one giant dog, and one over-excited adult. We were on our way to find the giant cliffs of Worumbo. The kids were more excited about getting out early and learning that Friday would be pajama movie day at school. Whatever, they live in the moment. Once they saw these cliffs, I was sure they'd be impressed.
When we arrived, I gave the kids a paper map, pointed to the treasure, and challenged them to lead us to it. Of course I pulled up my All Trails GPS feature, just to make sure we were on the right track. I now own the fact that I am navigationally challenged. P.S. I also have a Garmen satellite GPS system for when I lose cell reception.
My friend Becca joined us with her mom and daughter. We had three adults and 6 kids on this hunt. Surely we would be able to find it.
After exploring campsites, beaches, cliffs, and herding cats for about an hour, we came to the place on the map where we thought Worumbo should be.
What we found was, well, underwhelming. This couldn't be it. Something didn't seem right and it really didn't look like the picture. But it was seemingly in the right place on the map, and it was a cove surrounded by cliffs.
We decided to hike a bit further on, just to make sure we weren't missing the real Worumbo. The one from Matt's pictures.
After further investigation of about 1/4 mile along the cliff trail, we found nothing more than some tidepools and caves. In hindsight, these were pretty amazing discoveries for the kids to explore. However, they were not the prize I had my eye on, so I missed the moment.
On our return trip, my nephew asked me if we were going to hide a Seek'em. I hadn't even thought about bringing one, but he mentioned that he just happened to have one in his pocket. He'd discovered it during a Ripple Effect outing that week. I guess Seek'ems are making their way around Southern Maine...and into the pockets of ten year old's. It made me laugh, and of course we had to hide it here for you. So, we returned to the underwhelming Worumbo cliffs and hid the Seek'em in a tree overlooking them. He is missing an eye. I mean, he traveled who knows where with Ripple Effect, was carried around in a pocket for days and wound up here. It's been a journey for this clay pirate.
Although it was a great field trip, I couldn't shake the feeling that we'd missed the treasure. As soon as we got back home and the kids had all been picked up, I returned to the pictures that Matt sent me to compare the ones I now had.
Nope. It was definitely not the same cove, or cliffs, or treasure. That's when I really got the fire in me. I sent Matt the pictures I'd taken and he confirmed that my cliffs were different from his cliffs. He even sent me two Google Map pins, marking the location of the real Worumbo and the location of the cliffs we'd explored. They weren't far from each other, but they weren't in the same place.
Back to the drawing board and back to Hermit Island. Becca and I already have plans for a sunrise Worumbo hunt next week. I guess this is turning into a three part series. I'll let you know what we find. Or maybe you'll find it before we do!
I'll leave you with a couple of pictures:
- The first shows happy campers after an afternoon of fresh air and living in the moment. They didn't have all of the expectations I had...and they didn't take those caves and tidepools for granted. It's really the way to live a good life.
- The second is a picture of my friend Karen at the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland. Karen, my brother and I backpacked here for a couple of weeks in our twenties. We had hardly any money, hardly a plan, and so much fun. We camped in back yards, met lots of friendly Irish folk, hitchhiked around, drank a lot of beer, and lived in the moment. No real expectations at the time and only good memories now. Like I said, it's the real way to enjoy this journey.