Building our own Upta Camp- Part 1

upta camp maine

Life in the woods- Upta Camp

Henry and I had always wanted to have our own “upta camp” for as long as we could remember. Everyone knows about camp.  It’s that place that, no matter what direction you have to drive to get there is “up.”  Everyone always has a great time at camp, with tons of stories to tell when they return.  Think about it- have you ever heard of anyone having a bad time upta camp?  Of course not!

We bought a nice little parcel of land covered in trees on the side of a small hill three years ago.  In the fall if you go to the top of the property line you have a fantastic view of Sugarloaf and the surrounding mountains that belong to the Longfellow Mountain Range.  It seemed like the perfect place to build our camp.

building upta camp
View of the “road” to our camp and bridge. The cleared section beyond Wrangler over the bridge is the build site.

We got the permits and began clearing the land where our camp would sit two years ago.  Then, life happened.  The land sat for a year and a half.  Then one day late this summer, Henry got the fire again to get building our camp.  I think the image of sitting on the porch watching the snow fall silently all around with a crackling wood stove going inside gave him the fever.  He was hooked and hell-bent on making that image a reality.

View of the build site from across the bridge.
Another view of the build site from where the back of the camp will sit.

The Challenges of Building Camp

Part of the challenge was the drive from our home, about 2.5hrs one way.  Another challenge was access to the camp location.  We could only drive part of the way there, then had to hand-carry all tools and materials up a hill and across two streams to reach the build site.  

In prior years we had built small bridges to cross over the streams.  One was a footbridge and the other was strong enough to support a four-wheeler.  We had brought some materials up in prior years but had a lot more to bring up.  Luckily, we are able to back the truck up part of the way, then unload and use the wheeler to get most of the materials up the rest of the way.

The final part of the challenge was finding time to get away from our busy schedules. Henry decided we were never going to “find the time” to build the camp, we were just going to have to make it.  I agreed, and so we did.

Weekend One of Building the Camp

The first weekend we headed up, 13-year-old son and goofy dog Wrangler in tow, and got started.  We had nothing more than cleared land from previous years and a few building materials on site.  (See photos above!) 

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Henry and Treben get the floor system frame ready.
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Looking better!
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Progress by the end of day one!
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Laying by the fire after a long day of hard work.

Weekend one was exciting and very productive.  We dragged up more materials and started working on the floor system. We finished the floor system and even had time to frame up the back exterior wall.  It was exciting to see things start to come together!  It was a huge help having Treben work with us.

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Laying the floor.
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Action shot.
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Standing up the first wall!

Weekend Two

The first weekend wen so well we decided to head up the following weekend and keep on rolling.  We only had Wrangler with us this time.  After lugging tons more materials up we started building more walls.  We were able to get the two side walls built, including the beams for the porch, and put up some boarding on the walls.  

upta camp maine
Another wall!
upta camp maine
Rockin’ camp hair and another section of wall is up!
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One side wall complete with a beam installed for the porch.
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The final product at the end of week 2.

Weekend Three

Weekend three was another story.  We forgot to bring the key to the four-wheeler.  That meant we would have to back the truck up to the stream, unload the materials, and carry them all up the hill.  That really sucked because the next phase involved three 16’ pressure treated posts and a bunch of concrete deck blocks.  We will never forget the key to the wheeler ever again.  

screech owl video
Click here to watch the video of the screech owl and hear it crash land!

The First Night

We arrived at camp late the first night and had just enough light to set up the tent and cook dinner.  Afterward, we went up the hill to the building site and started making a materials list.  As darkness fell we suddenly had a visit from a very cool local.  It was a screech owl, something I had never heard in all my years in Maine.  It flew from tree to tree above us, looking down at us and calling.  I began calling back to it and we had a conversation for about five minutes.  It must have thought I was crazy.  Henry would say it’s right.  But I wasn’t the one who crash-landed in a tree- the screech owl did and I got it on video.

upta camp maine
Before cutting the trees in front of the cabin…
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…and after cutting the trees!

Hammering Down

The next day the weather was once again fantastic, although very hot.  We got the materials we needed and brought them to the land.  Henry carried up the heavy materials and I carried up the lighter stuff.  I debated putting a harness on Wrangler and having him drag materials up the hill with us.  He stayed a freeloader and we got banged up, cut, scraped and bruised caring and dragging the materials up the hill to our camp.  It hurt, and it sucked, but we didn’t care, we were building our own camp!

upta camp maine
Wrangler loves the new stairs!
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Things are starting to look different from across the stream.
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Henry rockin’ camp hair on the landing.
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Got an interior wall up!
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Camp makes you crazy…even Wrangler is smiling!
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Starting to frame up the loft!

End of Day Two Accomplishments

Over the weekend we were able to build the stairs, frame in the interior walls and doors, put boarding on the walls, and get the deck framed in.  I cut down some smaller trees in front of the cabin.  We accomplished a lot in the short amount of time we had and were once again pumped to come back the following weekend!

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Henry installing the center beam.
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More work on the loft.
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Boarded up the sides!
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Standing in the bedroom, looking out over the framed up porch.

Heading back to Reality

On the drive home, we started planning the next trip upta camp the following weekend.  Unfortunately, we didn’t realize that Saturday Bob Marley would be at the Blue Hill fair.  Going to the fair to see Bob has become a family tradition for us.  He would understand why we didn’t go to the show but the kids sure wouldn’t!  Camp would just have to wait.  

Make sure to read the winter issue for the next installment of building our upta camp!

Angela enjoys exploring the many beautiful and unique natural places in Maine and sharing her outdoor experiences with others.When not out exploring Maine woods, trails, mountains and waterways Angela can be found plotting and planning her next adventure or buying another backpack.(Because you can never have too many).

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