WOODSTOCK — It was a brisk October morning when Chip Lurvey of Lewiston set off to summit Bald and Speckled mountains in Woodstock.

Less than an hour from Lewiston-Auburn, the popular out-and-back hike offers a serene escape in the rolling western Maine foothills with stunning views of Maine’s peak fall foliage and nearby water features.

Lurvey might have gone it alone if not for L/A Hiking.

Joining Lurvey that morning were Steve Minott of Windham and Larry Levesque of Norway, with his beloved “Mississippi mutt,” Pepper. The three men met through the Lewiston-based hiking group Lurvey started earlier this year.

Through the Facebook group, Lurvey aims to connect local hiking enthusiasts and help beginners break into the outdoor pastime.

For Levesque, a 40-year hiking veteran, L/A Hiking and other similar groups provide an opportunity to get out in the woods and meet new people. Minott, a self-described “newbie,” said he joined the group to learn from experienced hikers.


Hiking at their own pace with a joyous Pepper in the lead, Levesque, Lurvey and Minott steadily worked their way up the mountains, stopping to rest and drink water as they wanted.

“You feel tired yet? Or just invigorated,” Lurvey shouted down with cheer at the top of a particularly steep section of Speckled Mountain

During their four-hour hike, the trio passed a wooded pond popular with fly-fishers, a large toad nestled in the trail and a paper wasp nest hanging above.

Chip Lurvey of Lewiston and Steve Minott, back, of Windham enjoy their time on top of Speckled Mountain during a recent outing in Woodstock. The two men and Larry Levesque of Norway, who was also on the hike, met through Lurvey’s Facebook group L/A Hiking. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

“For me it’s not about getting to the top, it’s about enjoying yourself,” Lurvey said.


For three years, Lurvey’s life centered on his wife’s battle with cancer.


But when she passed in February of last year, Lurvey realized it was time to start taking care of himself.

He began walking for miles a day, mostly along the river in Lewiston. Looking for something more, he purchased an old hiking book from Goodwill and set out for the woods.

That first hike to the top of Caribou Mountain in western Maine near Gilead was a magical experience, he said. Never had he been hiking by himself.

On his way down from its 2,800-foot peak, he saw an “unreal” sight: Just off the trail, a black bear stood next to a waterfall.

Lurvey soon became hooked on hiking. But he had few friends who were interested in joining him.

Inspired by other Facebook-based hiking groups, he created L/A Hiking hoping to meet others in the area who enjoy getting outside.


In just six months, the group has attracted 500 members. Not all are active hikers, Lurvey said. Some just enjoy seeing the photos shared by members.

When Lurvey or others are looking for company on their hike, they post their plans to Facebook. Those who are interested in joining often either leave a comment or send a direct message.

While their group that day was all men, Lurvey said L/A Hiking is mostly made up of women.

Thus far, Lurvey said he’s found mixed success. He’s made a few great friends through the group who have become regular hiking companions. But he’d like to see other people take a more active role in posting and leading hikes.

Eventually, he hopes to see the group grow to offer several hikes each week and become a resource for beginners.

Chip Lurvey of Lewiston takes in the view from the top of Bald Mountain in Woodstock. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal



At the peak of Speckled Mountain, Minott looked in awe over the bright, rolling western foothills laid out before him.

He took a few photos of the view, put his camera away, then pulled it back out to take a few more. There weren’t enough photos in the world that could capture the beauty of the moment.

Hiking to the summit of the 2,100-foot peak was a record for Minott. Never had he hiked up a mountain with such dramatic views, he said.

“I wouldn’t have done it without Chip,” he said. “That’s why I think it’s so cool.”

Now retired and with time on his hands, Minott has been joining various Facebook groups, aiming to learn more about hiking. Although he had been chatting with Lurvey online, it was the first time they had met in person.

“It’s really good to talk with someone with experience like that,” Minott said.


Levesque, Lurvey and Minott settled at the top of Speckled Mountain, taking in the view and enjoying a mid-hike snack.

Lurvey had a granola bar. Minott pulled out a half-liter carton of chardonnay wine and a container of crackers topped with cream cheese, pepperoni and jalapeno peppers, all purchased from the dollar store.

With a “cheers” to celebrate reaching the peak, Lurvey and Minott each enjoyed a small cup of wine.

The trail up Bald and Speckled Mountains in Woodstock is well marked by blazes. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal


Lurvey and Levesque don’t always look for company on their hikes.

“There’s just some days you want to be by yourself,” Lurvey said.


In his decades of hiking in New England, Levesque said he’s noticed a growing number of people on the trails.

“I remember when I had the woods all to myself,” he said. “Now I don’t.”

But at times, hiking with others can be a matter of life or death. He recalled a group hike on the Eyebrow Loop Trail in Grafton Notch several years ago when one person fell more than 100 feet from a ledge.

After a fellow hiker applied a tourniquet, the injured person was airlifted to a nearby hospital for care.

“That’s the worst one I’ve seen,” he said.

Every member of the group has their own reason for hiking.


Lurvey said hiking has helped him continue living life after the death of his wife. He hikes so often now that over a two-week vacation from work, he did some form of hiking every day but two.

Minott said he’s mostly in it for the exercise but enjoys meeting new people and the adventure of it all.

As for Levesque, his answer is simple.

“You do it for the spirit of it, mind and body,” he said. “You get lost in yourself.”

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