SBSI President Embarks on 85-Mile Solo Paddle for Charity

Mark Jones, President of Saco & Biddeford Savings, recently embarked on an 85-mile solo paddle of the serene Allagash waterway as a means to raise money for the recent Hike for Hospice event. This reflective post encapsulates his profound connection with nature and how it can rejuvenate our souls.

“When out hiking I often come across signs saying, “Restoration Area -- Stay Off.”  These are areas that have been heavily visited, where the feet of far too many people have worn down the grass and flowers to bare dirt, turning a place of lush beauty into an area that resembles an overly used athletic field.  

Our lives can often look like those areas. The day-to-day stress and busyness have us running over the hallowed ground in our lives, thoughtlessly trampling those delicate places. We become worn and hardened as we focus on efficiency rather than beauty, on productivity rather than meaning.

Our lives are often filled with non-stop activity which leaves us seemingly breathless and stressed as we run from meeting to meeting and one responsibility to another. There is so much to do that we seldom take the time to stop and allow restoration's power to rejuvenate us to take place.


For me, time in nature provides that opportunity to reflect, think, be restored and re-energized.  My recent 85 mile solo paddle of the Allagash waterway provided just that for me. 

As I paddled along through the morning fog each day I witnessed the mountain tops becoming visible in the distance and the beautiful fall foliage peering through as the clouds disbursed.  

Mile after mile of paddling through northern Maine's heavily forested landscape seeing and hearing only what nature provided… an otter family, an occasional moose, loons, migrating birds and the sounds of the wind and water slowly brought a sense of belonging where my cares faded and my body relaxed.


While some question the advisability of any type of deep wilderness journey alone, it is there we can often find ourselves. The business of life causes us to rarely explore the depths of who we are and what is important to us. We tend to stay where it seems safe, on the shallow edges of business and seemingly endless responsibilities. 

Yet, isn't one of our responsibilities to take care of ourselves, and in doing so, we take care of ourselves for those who are important to us and who rely on us for one thing or another? 

I encourage each of us to fearlessly head into the deep water, for there it is where we find riches that few are even aware of. It is often outside our comfort zone where a profound sense of peace, security, and joy awaits us, surpassing what many of us believe to be attainable.


While I did enjoy escaping from the eyes of people and their many expectations during this last excursion, one thing I did realize is that it is truly people who make the world the special place that it is.

It is a joy and an honor to serve those who I'm so fortunate to share life with here at the bank, at home, in our communities, etc. Alone time in nature can certainly make the heart grow fonder in so many important ways… that's the power and importance of restoration.”