Sunday, June 27, 2021

Wigwams Camp

Matty, Ryan and I spent the weekend exploring Downeast Maine, first hiking in the Donnell Pond Public Reserved Land and then glamping at Wigwams Camp.

We planned to hike Tunk Mountain and made it 0.8 miles to Mud Pond, but as we looked across the pond at Tunk Mountain we realized it was covered in low hanging clouds.  Lack of visibility combined with a high likelihood that the steep trail would be wet factored into our decision to turn around.

We drove to Wigwams Camp after hiking.  The historic Machias  River camp is owned by the Downeast Salmon Federation and available for use by donation.  

Getting to the camp was an adventure in itself as it required driving several miles of dirt roads running through blueberry fields, utilizing a hand drawn map and ensuring that you didn't turn onto the wrong road.  We hiked 1/4 mile to the cabin as we didn't feel our SUV had enough clearance for the final stretch of road.  

The cabin itself is rustic but well equipped.  It consists of 3 rooms, two of which have beds (they are in the process of swapping out mattresses so only one bed had a mattress).  There is a large living room/kitchen with a wood stove, couch, several chairs, a kitchen table and a smaller table.   The kitchen has a gas stove and was stocked with pots, pans, paper towels and plates, and other supplies.  There is a screened porch overlooking the river with a barbeque and additional chairs.  There is even a set of horseshoes for playing in the yard.

Outside, there is a water pump, outdoor shower, three picnic tables and a fire ring.  The pit toilet outhouse is located a short distance away.

We had cell service where we parked but no service by the cabin.

This was a great place to stay.  We regretted not bringing fishing poles or water shoes as swimming and fishing would have been fun.  There were wild blueberries growing near the river.  The sound of the river provided a natural noise machine throughout the night.  

We finished our trip with a stop at Wild Blueberry Land in Columbia Falls, a source of all things blueberry related including fresh baked goods 

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Little Peaked Mountain (Clifton)

Matty and I hiked Little Peaked Mountain after work today.   Although only a mile round trip, the hike is a great workout since nearly the entire hike is vertical.  

Sunday, June 20, 2021

Baxter 4 Day Trip (Mount Katahdin Hunt Trail, Kidney Pond canoeing, Draper & Deer Ponds Trail, Kidney Pond Cabins and Short Pond Walks)


Matty, Ryan and I spent three nights and four days in Baxter State Park this week.  
Thursday (check-in and Draper & Deer Ponds Trail)
We arrived at noon on Thursday and checked into the Bear's Den cabin (#2) at Kidney Pond.  For a rustic cabin, it had all that we needed:
*    a double bed and two single beds in two separate rooms, each wrapped in a sealed waterproof mattress cover (bring your own sheets, blankets and pillows);
*    wood stove, gas lantern, Adirondack chairs, tables and chairs inside, and a food prep table outdoors;
*    safety equipment (CO and smoke detectors, fire extinguisher); and
*    it's own fire pit with grill cover and a picnic table;
There is no electricity and the only water is from Kidney Pond (it must be treated before drinking and soap is not permitted in the park).  

After getting situated, we did a short flat three mile hike from the cabin to Draper and Deer Ponds.  We returned along the Slaughter Pond Trail and then the campground access road  The hike was scenic with views of mountains across the ponds and although we didn't see moose we did see evidence of moose along the trail.  

Friday (Mount Katahdin via the Hunt Trail)

We woke at 5 am on Friday to hike Katahdin via the Hunt Trail.   In the book Hiking Maine's Baxter State Park, the trail is described as the easiest way to ascend Katahdin.  A 10 mile round trip with 4284 feet of elevation gain and a lengthy stretch of rock scrambling, it is still a very strenuous hike.

The initial mile to Katahdin Stream Falls is relatively flat and provides no indication of what lies ahead.  The falls are beautiful (note the actual falls themselves are up around the bend and not what you see from the bridge) and there is an outhouse and some benches here as well.  After passing the falls, the trail begins to climb, gradually at first and then steeply.  Once reaching tree line, the boulder field starts.  Although I'm afraid of heights, there were only a handful of areas that I was uncomfortable with.  There are a few sections with rungs, including one with something akin to a chinup bar in a crevice that you need to lift yourself up and over while feeling as though you are dangling close to the edge of a cliff.  The boulder field is a little less than a mile long, but takes time to navigate.  Strong winds above treeline add to the challenge.  

Once reaching the tablelands, it's approximately a mile to the summit, starting flat but climbing at the end.  Despite it being a Friday, there were a significant number of people at the top.  

I liked the Hunt Trail much better than Abol Trail, which I had hiked a few years ago.  Abol is shorter but very steep and there are significant drops where it looks like you are climbing down a sheer cliff.  Although intellectually I knew there was a 10 foot shelf underneath, when I hiked Abol I felt like I was at risk of plunging 500 feet should I make a misstep.  Hunt Trail is more gradual and although it was hard work, there were only a few panic inducing spots.  
Here is a map of our hike.

Saturday (soreness, short pond walks, and canoeing Kidney Pond)

We woke Saturday sore from hiking Katahdin.  We spent the morning visiting several ponds close the road (Tracy, Abol, Rocky, Caverly and Stump) in search of moose and the afternoon canoeing Kidney Pond (map here).  We headed over to Daicy Pond to experience the sunset.

Sunday (departure)

We left Sunday morning, stopping at a few ponds on the way out in our ongoing quest to find moose. 


Sunday, June 13, 2021

South Branch Pond Campground and Fowler Brook Trail (Baxter State Park)

Friends and I went camping this weekend in the north section of Baxter State Park.  We arrived Saturday and camped at South Branch Pond Campground.  Despite it being full, the campground was surprisingly quiet. 
The following morning we hiked the Fowler Brook Trail to Lower Fowler Pond, hoping to see a moose.  The only wildlife we encountered were huge amounts of mosquitoes.  The trail itself was relatively easy and the view from Lower Fowler Pond was  beautiful.

Sunday, June 6, 2021

Kayaking Souadabscook Stream south of Etna Pond (Carmel)

 Ryan and I kayaked the Souadabscook Stream from Damascus Landing north to Etna Pond this morning.  

Damascus Landing is a relatively new boat launch and was created in 2019.  It has ample parking, picnic tables and a trash can, and a paved boat ramp.  The stream south of this location is clogged with a beaver dam, so you can only go north.  

The stream is wide and slow moving with marsh grass on both sides.  We spotted numerous song birds, including large numbers of red wing blackbirds, a bald eagle, a couple of beaver lodges and what may have been a river otter den.  

The total distance from the boat launch to the entrance to Etna Pond was roughly 3 miles round-trip.  Here is a map of our trip.  

Saturday, June 5, 2021

Borestone Mountain (Elliottsville)

Matty and I hiked Borestone Mountain today.  The 1,600 acres Audubon preserve includes an amazing forest, three beautiful ponds and of course Borestone Mountain itself.  

We started on the Base Trail, hiking 1.1 miles to the visitor center.  From there, we explored the Peregrine Trail, a 0.5 mile trail that leads out to a sheer cliff overlooking the three ponds.  We hiked back down the trail and then headed up the Summit Trail to the West Peak of Borestone.  The trail starts out flat, tracing the shoreline of Sunrise Pond, until it starts to climb steeply.  The last section of trail before the summit is extremely steep and requires some rock scrambling and climbing over metal rungs.  The view from the summit was amazing and well worth the effort.  We descended back down the Summit Trail and then descended the rest of the way along the service road. 

Overall we hiked 4.6 miles with significant elevation gain.  Here is a map of our hike.  While not crowded, there were quite a few people on the summit trail.