Saturday, July 27, 2019

Dorothea Dix Park (Hampden)

It was a nice evening so my son and I took our dog for a walk at Dorothea Dix Park in Hampden.  I last visited the park in February when there was snow covering the ground, so it was nice to come back and see the trail system.  We did a short hike (0.8 miles round-trip) on the Locust Trail.

This was a nice short wooded walk.  There are options to extend the hike using different trails.  The park also has picnic tables, a small playground and portable toilets.

Here is a trail map.

Oreo, our 8 year old cocker spaniel. 

The Locust Trail is wide and covered with wood chips.

Near the entrance there is a small playground and portable toilets.

There are also covered picnic tables and a grill.

Parenting and Physics Lessons in the Great Pond Mountain Wildlands

"We should have went to UMaine."  Those were the words my son said to me as we hiked back up to retrieve our car.

Admittedly, the ride down was fun.  Our speed helped us handle the 85 degree temperatures and lack of shade, and prevented attacks from the swarming flies we encountered on the trip back up.

Valley Road runs through the center of the Great Pond Mountain Wildlands.  It is a flat and wide dirt road that runs downhill as it heads north from Route One in Orland.  I've hiked here a few times this year and when my son and I were discussing places to bike, I recommended this over his recommendation of the flat paved trails at UMaine.  It seemed like a good idea at the time.  I didn't remember any significant elevation changes on the road itself.

The trail descends around 300 feet over a two mile stretch, which doesn't feel that overwhelming as you are traveling down it.  It provides nice views of the surrounding mountains when you aren't looking for washouts and oncoming cars traveling in the other direction.

Here is a trail map if you are motivated to replicate our journey after reading my description.  We rode halfway back up and then decided to lock our bikes to a tree and hike the remainder back to the car. 

Note that Valley Road is open to traffic and has a few blind spots around bends in the road.

The first half went really well for some reason....
The ride down.  It was the best of times....

The road provides nice views of the surrounding mountains.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Kayaking the Penobscot - Hampden to Bangor

My younger son and I kayaked the Penobscot River from the public boat ramp in Hampden to the outlet of the Kenduskeag Stream (here is a map).

We started out in a relatively natural setting and observed a bald eagle and several immature bald eagles in a nest while still in Hampden.  Once we turned a corner, however, the river quickly became industrial and commercial along its shores.  We made it north past the Darling's Waterfront Pavilion and were treated to Chris Stapleton doing a sound check before his concert and then a live band outside of Sea Dog Brewing.

It was a great day for kayaking.

On the right upper branches of the tall center tree sits a bald eagle.  The nest was nearby off-camera.

There are a number of man-made islands along the river.

We aren't really sure what this facility is but there was a tugboat and a large barge.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

West Quoddy State Park

During our trip to Campobello (see separate post) we crossed over into Lubec and spent some time visiting West Quoddy State Park and the West Quoddy Head Lighthouse.  The lighthouse has an interesting museum and on Saturdays is open for tours.  From the shoreline next to the lighthouse we observed a few porpoises and seals. 

We only had a short time to hike so partially hiked the Coast Guard trail (trail map here), which leads to a few spots overlooking the dramatic coastline.  We cut the hike short when it started to rain.

West Quoddy Head Lighthouse.

The Coast Guard trail is wide and has a gravel surface.

View from the Coast Guard trail.

Campobello Island (New Brunswick, Canada)

We visited Campobello Island this week.  Campobello Island is very similar to the northeast coast of Maine, except that (1) its in a foreign country, (2) road signs are in kilometers per hour (80 does not mean 80 miles per hour), (3) items are priced in Canadian dollars and (4) you need to go through Customs when crossing the border, even if you are just buying groceries or gas.  Some other things to note: (1) there are no gas stations on the island, and (2) bring bug spray.  

Campobello was beautiful and not crowded.  We spent much of our time viewing the abundant marine wildlife (including Minke whales, harbor porpoises and seals), looking at lighthouses and stunning coastal scenery and watching sunsets. 

Roosevelt Campobello International Park takes up a large part of the island and is worth the visit.  There are hiking trails and scenic overlooks throughout the park, and the park offers interpretive programs and tours of the Roosevelt cottage.  We attended an extremely educational "Tea with Eleanor" program which covered the life of Eleanor Roosevelt in an entertaining fashion.  

The Deer Island Ferry is a small, open car ferry that runs from Campobello to Deer Island.  It also transports passengers, and provided a fun and inexpensive way to view the bay.  We took the ferry round-trip to Deer Island and back (here is a map), during which we observed several seals, harbor porpoises and Minke whales. 

An Island Chalet was a great choice for lodging.  There are five cabins, each with a full kitchen and bath, a loft with queen size bed, and a bedroom downstairs with two twin beds.  The cabins overlook Johnson Bay with incredible sunsets. 

We could have easily seen everything in a day or two, but staying four days and three nights allowed us to relax and unwind, and get to really know the island.  

Minke whale, viewed from the shore near Head Harbor Lighthouse.
Seal off of Mulholland Light.

Mulholland Light, visible from the Lubec shoreline, greets visitors to the island.  The lighthouse has a short path along the water, from which you can view the many seals that feed in the area.

View from Liberty Point facing Lubec.  Fog was present each of the mornings we were there.

Liberty Point.

Liberty Point has three walkways affording excellent views.

Head Harbor Light, also known as East Quoddy Light, is located on the north end of Campobello.  The lighthouse can be accessed via a trail during low tide
The Deer Island Ferry.

An Island Chalet.  There are five cabins, each with a fully equipped kitchen and room for four people.  The cabins have great views of Johnson Bay.
View from deck of our cabin.

Sunset viewed from the deck of our cabin.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Kayaking Seboeis Public Reserved Lands

Seboeis Public Reserved Lands provides over 21,000 acres of lake, wooded islands and shore front areas offering water recreation and camping. 

My older son and I kayaked here today and checked out some of the campsites for potential future visits.  The road leading to the boat launch was unpaved but manageable in our 2WD minivan.  The boat launch itself is paved and has clean relatively new looking pit toilets.

From the lake we enjoyed incredible views of the surrounding mountains, including Katahdin. We paddled out to Dollar Island, which has a primitive campsite, but the campsite was occupied (camping is first come, first serve).  Considering the small size of the island and the fact it does not have a toilet, we aren't certain this would be a great place to camp despite the great location.

We then paddled over to Sand Cove and enjoyed some time wading in the shallow water near a sandy beach. While paddling over, we noticed a small deer swimming in the lake.

For more information about the area, you can visit the official website here

Here is a map of our kayaking today.

Dollar Island.

View of mountains from lake.

Deer swimming.
Secluded beach in Sand Cove. 

BSA Camp Roosevelt and the Fitts Pond Trail

I spent 6 nights last week camping at Camp Roosevelt while my son attended Boy Scout Camp.

Camp Roosevelt is located in Eddington, Maine on Little Fitts Pond and offers several BSA summer camps as well as off-season rentals to scouting units (see its website for more information).  It has a large and relatively new dining lodge and campsites with cabins.

Our troop stayed at the Gary Robbins campsite, which was close to the dining hall and waterfront area.  Unlike other sites, Gary Robbins has regular restroom facilities with flush toilets and its own showers, and the cabins have electrical outlets.  We shared the site with another troop, so I elected to stay in a tent all week as the male adult leader cabin was a bit crowded.  (This worked well until it rained hard Thursday night and Friday morning.  The upside is that I was able to identify those spots in my tent which I hadn't sealed properly.)

I accompanied my son while he worked on his hiking merit badge, during which we hiked the Fitts Pond Trail (here is the trail map).

Food at the camp is provided by Jeff's Catering.  The food was very good and they were very accommodating of special dietary needs (e.g. gluten free).

Cabins at Gary Robbins campsite.  Each cabin had two rooms and could sleep 6-7 people.
View of Fitts Pond and the swimming area.

The Fitts Pond Trail.

Blackcap Mountain can be accessed from the Fitts Pond Trail and is open to the public in the off-season.
Our six scouts.

Friday, July 5, 2019

Hermon Pond and Souadabscook Stream

This evening my sons and I kayaked four miles on Hermon Pond and Souadabscook Stream from the Jackson Beach boat ramp almost to where Bog Road passes over the stream. 

The last time we visited Hermon Pond the mosquitoes were bad.  Tonight, however, we hardly noticed them.   Despite the holiday weekend, the lake was not crowded and we only saw a few other boats. 

When we looked at a map of Hermon Pond, it looked like we would be able to access Ben Annis Pond from Patten Stream a short distance from the boat ramp.  When we looked at Patten Stream, however, we questioned the degree to which we would be able to get through as it seemed very narrow. 

Souadabscook Stream was considerably wider.  We would have gone further but were running up against sunset so needed to get back. 

Here is a map of our trip.

Loon with baby loon.

Souadabscook Stream

Souadabscook Stream heading back out towards Hermon Pond. 

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Black Mountain and Schoodic Beach, Donnell Pond Public Reserved Land

Donnell Pond Public Reserved Land consists of 14,000 acres of mountains, lakes and forests offering hiking, camping and water recreation.

Today my son and I hiked the Black Mountain Cliffs Trail from the Schoodic Beach parking lot up to the summit and back down to Schoodic Beach.  The trailhead for Black Mountain Cliffs starts from the Schoodic Beach trail a short distance from the parking lot.  It is a moderately strenuous hike on the way up, with a few steep sections.  The trail passes through a few wet areas, is muddy in parts and passes through some short narrow and grassy sections.

Several online reviews of the trail commented on Black Mountain's forested summit, and while this is true, there are a few opportunities to view the surrounding area.

The trail down was significantly easier than the way up, was less steep and wasn't as muddy as the ascent.

Given that it was a 90 degree day, it was great to be able to stop at Schoodic Beach for a short swim before completing the final 1/2 mile back to the parking lot.

Here is a trail map from our hike. The overall hike was a little over 3 miles. 

The trail was steep at certain points on the ascent.

There were a few short, grassy sections.

There were a few points near the summit that offered views of Acadia.

It was great to swim near the end of the hike.  Black Mountain is in the background.