Maine Oct. 2-6, 2012 Trip Report
"I left West Island at 8:00 on Tuesday evening and drove through the night, taking a couple of sleep breaks during the 400 mile trip. It’s a long haul, but it is certainly better to do it at night when you can avoid the Boston traffic.
My destination was the Nesowadnehunk Lake Wilderness Lake Campground (www.nesowadnehunk.com), whose pamphlet I’d picked up somewhere and looked idyllic. I prepared to be either in a cabin, a lean-to, or a tent.
Getting to the camp was not at all straightforward. The place is really in what the Spaniards would call the “quinto cono.” Once past Millinocket, you must travel a good bit on the “Golden Road,” then up the Telos Road, and then 7 miles down a spur. There was one unmarked fork, and, following Yogi Berra’s advice, I took it. That wrong choice soon put me onto a logging road with pretty deep mud. While slithering around on the road in my Toyota Matrix, I wondered what it would be like to be stuck out there."
– Maine Oct. 2-6, 2012
John Mirick, Princeton, MA Trip Report
"In 1961, our family group of 13 went into Russell Pond – 5 adults and 8 children. Our gear came mostly from the Army-Navy Surplus Store. Our clothes were cotton and wool. Our food included hamburg, onions, and some things in cans. We staggered along the trail carrying heavy and awkward packs. And we loved it!
Russell Pond was a great base camp for a week; lean-to #3, our favorite shelter. Grand Falls with the water rushing down the granite gorge was a destination in one direction. Wassataquoik Lake with the Pogy Mountain cliffs on the north side of the lake and Green Falls from the Wassataquoik saddle on the other side was another day trip. And lots of shorter expeditions to pick blueberries at the Lookout, swim and sun on the smooth rocks at the crossing of the North Peaks Trail, and poke for artifacts at New City.
For fifty years – and two more generations – we’re still making the annual trip. There’s a special bond that results from a week in the woods. It’s a blend of the self-confidence in learning to read a map and use a compass to bushwack up seldom-climbed mountains, the accomplishment of mastering the art of cooking and baking over an open fire, the pride in catching trout and salmon on flyrods, the awe of watching the Northern Lights, the thrill of hearing the coyotes sing at night, and the majesty of nightfall as Katahdin catches the last glow of the sun and then turns darkly purple. And it’s the quiet companionship that come from sharing the trail, admiring the moose, watching the loons with their chicks, and the spruce hen trying to draw us away from her chicks.
The oldest generation is no longer with us, but they came on the trip for almost four decades. We affectionately called them "the fossils" when at R.P. Last summer, 3 of the original children, and 3 of our children, and even 1 of our grandchildren, went into Russell Pond, along with various spouses and friends for a total of 12 in the group. We now have fleece and nylon and freeze-dried food and high-tech packs and collapsible walking poles. The trails are a little different, the woods grown up and engulfing New City. But Katahdin remains in all its glory, and the sense of companionship has only grown stronger through the years. Next year, perhaps 2 grandchildren will come along, and we can look forward to instilling in them our love for an annual week in the woods."
– John Mirick, Princeton, MA
U. Ingrid Richardson’s Report, April 17, 2012 Trip Report
"On Friday of the Labor Day, weekend my husband Charles and I sign in at the Trout Brook Farm ranger station for a 4-day stay at the Lower Fowler Pond campsite. Within minutes of parking at the Fowler Brook trailhead, we are plodding through ankle deep muck; the floods of hurricane Irene a few days earlier have swept aside the hefty stepping logs that span the swampy approach to the Fowler Brook bridge. This bridge has steep ramps at both ends and a decided list due to the collapse of one crib, a challenge to hikers with fully loaded packs. But from there, the land slopes upward and trail conditions improve.
As always, our hearts leap when, 45 minutes later, we glimpse Lower Fowler Pond through the trees. And then it is spread before us, a jewel framed by light green cedars at the water’s edge and set off by darker pines and hemlocks."
– U. Ingrid Richardson’s Report, April 17, 2012
Martin Coleman and Loren B. Fisher, New York, NY Trip Report
"Maine has always been a very special place for me. My great grandparents immigrated to Waterville from Krov, Lithuania, in the mid 1890's and were one of a few families who helped establish the Beth Israel Congregation at the turn of the 19th century in Waterville. I have spent every summer of my life at a camp on Lake Messalonskee that my grandfather bought my grandmother in 1951 so she could spend her summers near her childhood home. With my father's sudden death last winter, I have felt an even deeper connection to my Maine roots and a true desire to make sure Maine and places like Baxter State Park will be around for my children to cherish and enjoy.
My first attempt at climbing Mt. Katahdin was a number of years ago with my good friend, Howard Whitcomb, his son Gerry, and daughter Amy. Thunderstorms forced us to take shelter at Chimney Pond and turn back. The second attempt came a number of years later, when my girlfriend at the time panicked at the first set of boulders on Cathedral Trail. This second failed attempt even further fueled my desire to make the summit one day.
With the pending threat of Hurricane Danny winding its way up the Northeast in August 2009, my fiancée Loren and I decided to make our way up to Millinocket a day earlier than we planned to embark on what would be my third attempt at making the elusive summit. Being startled awake by the sound of a bleating alarm clock at 4:40 AM was well worth every tearing yawn once Loren and I saw the mist rising from the roadside bogs and the first red, orange, and golden sun rays piercing through the thick evergreen treeline of the eight-mile dirt road leading to the entrance of the Park. Loren and I excitedly signed into the ranger's log on the cabin porch and slowly shed our warm layers as we steadily made our way up to Chimney Pond. We enjoyed the first vista lookout on what was shaping up to be a fabulous "Class 1" day.
After making a short lunch stop at the summit, we pressed on to Knife's Edge. Loren showed a lot of grit and heart as she carefully navigated the boulders along the ridgeline. I think I actually fell even more in love with her on this adventure. Seeing the mountain through her eyes made it very special as we had recently gotten engaged in June. Making the climb to the summit of Mt. Katahdin brought us closer together, looking after one another as we made our way up the rock scramble. I cannot think of anyone else with whom I would have wanted to finally share the summit on this special day than my beautiful fiancée.
While we did not plan for quite enough water as we took the dry Helon Taylor trail down the mountain, it was perhaps the only real snafu on what otherwise was a picture perfect and rewarding day. We were elated to hear Roaring Brook off in the distance as nightfall rapidly ensued. A much-needed night of sleep followed after a hearty meal, and ice for Loren’s knees, at the xx diner.
Loren and I are looking forward to spending even more time in Maine this summer on Snow Pond and marrying at Beth Israel this October 2nd in Waterville surrounded by our family and friends."
– Martin Coleman and Loren B. Fisher, New York, NY
Ellen Klain Trip Report
"Mid-September found Lindsay and Mark Nelsen from Litchfield and me making the trek into Russell Pond. I hadn't been there in 12-15 years with my family, and I was numb enough on that trip to lug in a CAN of beans. Never again for this experienced hiker! After asking numerous friends to do the trip with me – now, how many people, in reasonable shape and with the flexibility to give up a couple of days of work, can you ask to do a backpacking trip? – I found four go-getters, then two backed out due to illness.
The three of us thought we'd make an occasion of it by going up a day early and staying overnight at New England Outdoors Center so we wouldn't have to drive 5 hours up and hike 6+ hours in. That turned out to be one of the best decisions of the adventure especially since we were able to go kayaking and swimming in Millinockett Lake on a beautiful late sunny afternoon. We wondered afterwards if we should have just scrapped the backpacking and stayed there for the duration."
– Ellen Klain
Bruce Arnold Trip Report
"I first visited the Katahdin area in 1939 as a five year old boy with my parents and their friends, Charles & Marian Woods. We traveled to the camps owned by William Tracy and his wife at Russell Pond. In those days, Russell Pond was not yet a part of the park, and Tracy’s camps were on private land. Tracy used pack horses to take supplies into the Pond. I got to ride on the pack horse as led by William Tracy over the trail from Roaring Brook.
At Russell Pond, my parents and I stayed in one cabin while the Woods had the other unit. My father was eager to be there as he was an avid fly fisherman, especially for trout. One evening, he was casting from the shore and when he tried to bring his back cast forward, he found that a night hawk had seen his fly and caught it in its mouth. There was quite a hubbub to get the bird free of the fly. My recollection is that the bird was not harmed."
– Bruce Arnold
Bill Reitsma Trip Report
"Just thought that you would enjoy this picture of an unnamed falls located around 500 feet from the Middle Fowler South campsite. It was taken on a trip just over two weeks ago (September 11). I call it Hidden falls because in years past I have met campers who have stayed overnight at the camp site and still did not know that the water fall was there. I have also talked to park employees who were unaware of the falls (and some who were). The source of the water for the falls is on the North side of Traveler Mountain, not upper Fowler Pond as most people would think.
Last year we dropped a line over the falls and measured it at more than 60 feet in height. Usually the water flows just a few feet down the dry wash to Middle Fowler before disappearing underground. This year the channel had water all the way to the pond and the falls itself was just amazing.
I have been going to middle Fowler off and on for between 25 and 30 years. It is my favorite Baxter destination. Although the normal water flow is far less than what you see in the picture, I have never seen it completely dry. On a hot day in July or August, the temperature in the small valley below the falls is usually about 10 degrees less than elsewhere. I also no longer recommend the Middle Fowler South camp site over the North camp Site. It has really grown in over the years, and has experienced a lot of erosion from running water.
PS: I do have to add that although the normal water flow is far less than what you see in the picture, I have never seen it completely dry. On a hot day in July or August, the temperature in the small valley below the falls is usually about 10 degrees less than elsewhere."
– Bill Reitsma
Jym St. Pierre Trip Report
"In late July 2011, I went on my annual Katahdin Lake fishing extravaganza. My usual fishing partner could not go this year so another friend came. He is not an angler, so there was less fishing and more sightseeing than usual. However, we did paddle around and I did catch and release a half dozen or more trout in my favorite fishing hole. We also saw five moose, a bald eagle (several times), a great blue heron, loons, terns, ravens, a variety of songbirds, bear scat, and a spectacular sunset.
On Sunday, we paddled the lake at sunrise (5 am), teased trout (or vice versa), then got a late breakfast back at the cabin. In the afternoon, we hiked the Martin Ponds loop trail, which winds through a beautiful, old hardwood forest. It is about 4.5 miles roundtrip from Katahdin Lake Wilderness Camps (KLWC). A family who had camped at the Martin Ponds lean-to the night before had left by the time we arrived, but a resident moose grazing in the shallows provided a photogenic foreground for the Imax view of Katahdin.
On the way back to Katahdin Lake, we met an old fellow from Millinocket, who was backpacking alone. He said he had worked in the paper mill, been a bush pilot in Alaska, and driven trucks all over the country, but he always returned to Katahdin where he has camped for decades. Later we paddled to Painter's Beach and the Katahdin Lake outlet, then walked to Rocky Pond. Somehow we each managed to slip into the muck while searching for a dry place to stand to get a photo of the magical, late-day light on the pond. We arrived back at the canoe in time to skim across the glassy lake, passing a trio of loons, to the inlet to cast a dry fly and to gawk at another spectacular sunset. That night, I sat on the beach for awhile and fell deep into the Milky Way.
Last year, on the same weekend, a family reunion at KLWC got a bit rowdy for a wildland getaway. This year, it was the opposite. Though it was the peak weekend of the summer season, we were the only ones staying at the camps both nights. Holly Hamilton, the camps manager, said they had been full (including people from three foreign countries) a few days earlier and that August was nearly booked. Maybe my mild complaints about loud visitors last year sent karma alarms to ward off everyone this time. Yikes. I did not mean to scare away other visitors. I just wanted everyone to respect the peace and quiet of such a sacred place.
I brought both the new National Geographic and Map Adventures maps of Baxter Park. I also used a map of local sites prepared by Holly's husband, Bryce. Each of the maps had advantages, but I found myself dreaming about the perfect map of the area I would create. Maybe in the next life.
We hiked out Monday just before thunderstorms arrived, drove up along the Penobscot West Branch to watch rafters and kayakers try to defy the laws of gravity and hydrology, then got a late lunch at the AT Cafe in Millinocket and stopped in at Marsha Donahue's North Light Gallery. I wanted to go into Brad Viles new Maine Woods Gear store in the same building, but he was closed, probably off hiking. He has climbed Katahdin 99 times already.
It was another terrific trip to one of my favorite places. You outta go. But if you show up on the summer weekend when I am there, please stay out of my fishing spot and keep the noise down. The moose and I will thank you."
– Jym St. Pierre
Warm Winter Weekend 2012 Trip Report
"On March 15-18 in Millinocket Stream cabin at New England Outdoor Center (NEOC) on the shore of Millinocket Lake, Chris and Dorothy Beeuwkes, Barbara and Bill Bentley, Anne Huntington, David and Mikki Little, and Howard Whitcomb enjoyed what might be the last “Warm” Winter Weekend. Given the warming trend and rapid disappearance of snow, NEOC owner Matt Polstein wondered if the “warm” in the name might be changed. Could it be that future gatherings at this time of year will be “Wild” Winter Weekends?
Dinners were fabulous and included Howard’s St. Patrick’s Day boiled dinner, the Little’s Christmas Alaskan salmon, Anne’s Huntington bread (and biscuits to die for), the Beeuwkes’s pies, stromboli and cannelloni from Orvieto, just to mention a few items in the menu. We had dinner guests some evenings – Marsha Donahue and Wayne Curlew, Austin and Rosemary Hastings, and Chaitanya York and Eileen Coyne."
– Warm Winter Weekend 2012
Bob Goldman Trip Report
"What did we do to deserve such beauty and such good fortune? That is a question we asked each other and ourselves as we journeyed through the Allagash waterway. It is a more beautiful and wondrous place than I even imagined it to be.
I was the very lucky guy who won a seven-day canoe journey on the Allagash, offered by fellow FBSP member, Jim Andrews. In exchange for happily making an extra donation toFriends of Baxter State Park, I joined Jim and his good friend, Kevin Regan, on a most amazing and wonderful Allagash adventure. They were truly in need of a bow mate to power the big supply canoe. Both Jim and Kevin were kind and wonderful adventure mates. We looked after each other, with good cheer. And, in that spirit, it was a miraculous journey from beginning to end.
Canoeing through the Allagash waterway, one experiences a mix of emotions, all good. There are massive lakes, lovely ponds, seemingly infinite and ever-curving river sections always regally guarded by the Maine woods on both shores. Sometimes it is serene and calm paddling; and at other times, the wind comes up and its time to reach down deep to paddle with determination to avoid getting pushed to shore. The wind can blow strong, especially on the open lakes. And the weather can change in ten minutes from sunny and blue, to wispy clouds, to lots of rain clouds and then back again. The weather gods have a great sense of humor on the Allagash! And it is all good!
We were blessed to see dozens of majestic eagles and beautiful loons, hundreds of gorgeous common mergansers, and a few moose, too. The Allagash appears healthy and vibrant and full of life. Someday, I hope the wolves return home here where they belong, along with the eastern cougar and the other missing natives.
I’d like to share two of the many special memories of the journey with you, my fellow FBSP members. After seeing dozens of proud eagles flying up high or perched high above, it was shocking to suddenly see a hawk fly 30 or so feet in front of our canoe, only a few feet above the river! It’s torso was a vibrant deep reddish brown with white in its tail. It was so very hawkish. It stopped and hovered effortlessly a couple of feet above the river, looking and searching the river below. After ten seconds, it descended onto the water where it struggled for another 10 or 15 seconds and finally emerged, successfully, with a silver fish. What an awesome performance! The second memory is of a windy night, perhaps 2 or 3AM. I awoke in my tent, and the wind was howling mightily. I listened in awe of its raw power, magnified by the darkness of night. Somehow, through the great noise of the wind, came the faint but clear and distinctive call of a loon, out there in the distance on the water. It was the mysterious call of the Maine wilderness itself. That courageous loon spoke to me, saying: through the most persistent storm, life goes on and the hope of a better day ahead never dies. And indeed, the next day was beautiful.
Though I am not old, I am not a youngster either, yet the Allagash made me feel the wonder of being a kid again. And I fell deeply in love with yet another miraculous part of Maine. The experience made me more determined to help heal and protect much more of the Maine Woods that lies beyond the protected beauty of the waterway.
Thank you so much, Jim. Let’s do it again. Thank you so much Friends of Baxter State Park. Thank you Great Spirit for the miracle that is the Allagash."
– Bob Goldman
Chris Beeuwkes' Winter Ascent of Katahdin in 1960 Trip Report
"It had all the components of great drama. The trip was in serious jeopardy by the time we reached Bangor – from serious engine trouble in our car to heavy snowfall. We abandoned the car to continue by train. To get passage on the freight train to Millinocket was something of miracle. The stay of a few hours in the now-razed Great Northern Hotel cannot be replicated today obviously. The deep snow forced the turn-back near Avalanche Field of Elmer Woodworth's snow-machine; we shared the extra burden of parceling out the provisions, and I helped in breaking trail to Roaring Brook."
– Chris Beeuwkes' Winter Ascent of Katahdin in 1960
Phil C. Crane Trip Report
"Has anyone asked you this question lately? It was early in October and being the camper I am, I decided to go to Baxter State Park, well up in the sticks here in Maine. I set up the camp, you know, the tent and all. Just got it all set up when the rain began to fall.
It was about 4:00 in the afternoon by the time the rain let up. So I fixed supper and coffee over a fire, which I had made to take the chill out of the bones. As luck would have it, as I just finished up, more rain began to fall, and so back into the tent I went eventually to fall asleep.
Now, it was very quiet except for the Owls “Hoot, Hoot, Hoot”, when I was awakened by something going tap, tap, on my head. As I was barely awake and at that point not thinking yet, at first, I pushed back, just a time or two, then upon the third time, I punched back, “Leave me alone!”
Now, I don’t mind a time or two, but three is the best, and I had to do something about this little pest. Thinking it was a branch or maybe a stick, next time it hit, I hit back quickly. This time I punched; and back at me it came. I punched the second time and still got the same. The third time, I punched it hard, I then turned my head and as the rain had stopped, the Moon’s light shone instead.
Backlit by the moonlight, two silhouettes appeared upon my tent. I saw a sight then which I would not forget. Two little bear cubs were what the cause was, and I could see clearly their ears, nose, and paws. When I thought what had happened, I never would have guessed that I just went three rounds with a couple of bear cubs."
– Phil C. Crane
Walk in the Park – August 12, 2011 SFMA Tour and South Branch Pond Trip Report
"On a sunny morning in the Park, we met at Trout Brook Crossing at 9 AM. SFMA interns Eli Shank (UMO) and Steve Allen (UMFK) greeted Barbara & Bill Bentley, Mike Stillman, Howard Whitcomb arriving from South Branch Pond. BSP Resource Manager Rick Morrill accompanied by Ross and Diane Morgan arrived from home shortly thereafter. After a very informative introduction to the Scientific Forest Management Area (SFMA), including maps and handouts plus a description of the day’s tour, we consolidated into two Park vehicles and set out on the Park tote road for the Lynx Road."
– Walk in the Park – August 12, 2011 SFMA Tour and South Branch Pond
Mike Salisbury and Family in Russell Pond Trip Report
"Mike Salisbury of @MaineSkiFamily did a August 2012 journey together to Baxter State Park with a camping trip to Russell Pond. Russell Pond is a remote campground in the middle of Baxter that requires an 8 mile backpack in and out so you need to carry everything on your back!"
– Mike Salisbury and Family in Russell Pond
Winter Walk in the Park, February 2012 By Barbara Bentley Trip Report
"In spite of the short winter season in the Park this year – February to mid-March sums up the good snow conditions – Kit Pfeiffer, David Elliott, Jean Boeckeler, and Barbara Bentley skied to Katahdin Lake Wilderness Camps at the beginning of February, explored the recently donated Huber Parcel, and visited Pitcher Plant Pond. Fabulous fare and good company were enjoyed in the main lodge, where Dave sat at the head of the table full of women. The trail was so well packed that some of the guests chose to make the trip out to Togue Pond Gate on foot; some enjoyed what is mostly a downhill ski out. – Barbara Bentley, Hope, ME"
– Winter Walk in the Park, February 2012 By Barbara Bentley
Al Howlett Trip Report
"BANG. “That was a gun,” I exclaimed!
BANG. “Get in the car. We gotta get out of here.”
Was this Deliverance—the sequel? Three of us Friends of Baxter State Park hopped in the car and sped out of the sand pit. The boys at the store at Abol Bridge had promised us 15-20 moose at this remote sandpit—not gunfire.
“The sandpit is just nine more miles up the Golden Road,” the boys had told us.
“Then six more miles up the Telos Road to an abandoned sandpit. You’ll see 15-20 moose. They like the salt in the sand up there.” It was a dreary, rainy afternoon as we bounced along the Golden Road in pursuit of these moose. The road changed to dirt now and again. It narrowed as we turned onto the Telos Road. Fog Mist added to the surreal scene. At some point we noticed the gas gauge sinking towards empty. Did that store back at Abol Bridge have gas? Nobody remembered.
After six miles on the Telos Road, still no sandpit. Then we spotted two fellows in the weeds behind a bus. We stopped. They approached us cautiously, looking rather suspicious. “Where’s the sandpit, I called out?” Just ahead was the reply. And there it was. A huge sandpit. But nary a moose in sight. We drove down into it, and got out to have a look around. Suddenly, without warning shots rang out.
We weren’t sure what those gunslingers where shooting at. But we were not about to try to find out—in case it was us! We beat a hasty retreat 15+ miles back to the store. There is gas at that store. And the boys inside acted surprised we saw no moose, till we mentioned the gunshots. “Guess that scared the moose,” they said with a straight face. We are still wondering if we were just the latest tourists they sent on a wild moose chase. Were they even in cahoots with the gunslingers that get their kicks out of scaring tourists? If so, they succeeded.
It was dark when we finally got back to the Big Moose Inn halfway between the Park and Millinocket. They put us oldsters in the “Antique” cabin. Owner Laurie Cormier warned us our cabin could be a little noisy since it was right behind the kitchen and the Loose Moose Bar. The Bar was hopping. The Red Sox were the TV. And as it turned out, we were the noise in the Loose Moose Bar. We dined on pizza and washed it down with Moose Breath Beer. We whooped and hollered as the seesaw tilt with Kansas City lasted late into the night. Seems my fellow Friends were avid Red Sox fans.
Despite the late bedtime we were up early on day two. We reached the Park gate promptly at 9 o’clock only to learn that our DUPR had expired two hours earlier. DUPR means something like Daily Useless (for us) Parking Reservation. Fortunately, it was mid-week and the weather was iffy, so we had no problems. We could have gotten a three hour moose pass for the Roaring Brook parking lot if necessary which would have been sufficient for our destination, Sandy Stream Pond. Unfortunately, Park staff failed to tell the moose we were coming.
The day’s highlight turned out to be Don Fendler’s annual talk at Kidney Pond on being lost on a mountain in Maine—in 1939. Standing room only. His talk was as spirited as ever even as his 85th birthday approaches. My Friends had him sign his book as did countless others. On the way back to Big Moose Inn we stopped at Stump Pond in the dark, but caught no moose in the beam of our flashlights.
The last morning we rented a canoe for just one dollar an hour at the Information Center outside the South Gate. This is one of The Park’s suggestions if you have just 2-4 hours. For more ideas visit their website, click on Hiking and Climbing, then click on What to Do. It was a gorgeous morning on Upper Togue Pond with Katahdin front and center—just a few clouds around Baxter Peak. Four loons swam along not far in front of us.
For those who want the amenities of running water and showers, and various food options, consider Big Moose Inn on Millinocket Lake. There are rooms in the inn, and cabins with full kitchens; there are light meals at the Loose Moose Bar, full meals at Fredericka’s Wed-Sun evenings, and more food and sandwiches at the adjacent store.
Our trip proved there's much to enjoy at Baxter State Park without climbing the Mountain. And when we were checking out, we finally saw a moose, over the fireplace at Big Moose Inn. We took his picture, and headed for home—the back way as Chaitanya York calls it—down through Brownville Junction, Milo, Dover-Foxcroft, Dexter to Newport and onto I-95 South. It had been a different kind of trip, but we enjoyed it just as much. Katahdin in all its glory was as magnificent as ever."
– Al Howlett
Doug Campbell Trip Report
"I spent two glorious weeks with Ralph Dolley and two other kids in July or August 1956, the summer I was 14. I’m in the process of writing a youth novel based on that experience – and of the backpacking expedition my family took from Branch Ponds to Roaring Brook that led us to discover Ralph. I’m looking for people who might know the area better than I who could answer some of the questions I’ve encountered.
Here’s an example:
When did the logging in the Wassataquoik Valley begin and end?
What is the nature (and name) of the stream that drains Russell Pond, and how far down does it connect with the Wassataquoik (I assume it must.)
What type of trees (spruce? pine?) are (or were) on the island on Wassataquoik Lake?In my memory, that island and lake and the surrounding mountains make one of the most captivating scenes I’ve ever encountered.
I returned to Russell Pond in 1992 with my adult daughter for a week of hiking. At that time, everything seemed still familiar. Instead of Ralph playing his recorder sitting naked atop a forest boulder, the current ranger played the bagpipe at sunset (or maybe sunrise. Not sure.) But the forest and the trails were as I remembered them, although the distances were much shorter than I’d recalled.
I bought In Beyond Katahdin and am reading it. And I have ordered Mr. Neff's book and am eager to read that, too. (Editor: Katahdin: An Historic Journey by John Neff) So far, I'm reminded of many details about Ralph Dolley that I'd forgotten, but in general the picture that
emerges is exactly what I recall. – Doug Campbell, Beverly, NJ
Editor: Brendan Curran and John Neff supplies answers to some of Doug’s questions.
In my book, Katahdin: An Historic Journey, there is a whole chapter on the lumbering era, including a goodly section about lumbering in the Wassataquoik region. There is a lot of material on the history of the various camps at Russell Pond and a number of references to Ralph Dolley. I recommend those passages to you - as well as the other chapters that deal with the human and cultural history of the mountain and region around it. Having said that, let me respond to a couple of your specific questions:.
1. Logging in the Wassataquoik valley began in the 1830s or so and most of that era of logging ended around 1915 after a great fire swept the whole area. Then the region was left alone for a time until more recent years when some logging began to take place along Wassataquoik Stream closer to the East Branch where the trees had grown up from the mid 1800s and roads could take the logs to the mills.
2. I know of no name for the outlet stream from Russell Pond. It is not very long before that short outlet stream enters into Turner Brook that flows into the main branch of Wassataquoik Stream not too much further downstream. Turner Brook flows from Wassataquoik Lake and Six Ponds, etc.
3. I do not know what trees grew on Wassataquoik Lake island back years ago, but since I have been going there the primary growth is softwood. There is a lovely white pine stand at the southern end near the campsite. That gives way to stubbier growth as you go toward the northern end, but I cannot remember whether it was fir or spruce. A lot of krummholtz because of the strong winds, etc. If you need something definitive on that you would need to consult with the park naturalist, Jean Hoekwater. I agree on the beauty of that lake – it is one of my favorite places, anywhere.
Your fiction project sounds quite fascinating. I – and I am sure others – will be eager to learn about the finished product and how we can get copies. Members of Friends might want to learn of its publication as well. Good luck. – John W. Neff, Winthrop, ME
I believe we may know each other, though it would have been a long time ago. I am the ranger who played the pipes when you and your daughter came to Russell Pond back in '92. If my memory serves me, you and your daughter camped at Wassataquoik Stream lean-tos as well as at Russell Pond. I think you had some rain during your trip. We spoke a bit about Scottish history and heritage, including events between Campbells and MacDonalds. … I am still rangering at Russell Pond although I sold the pipes about a year and a half ago. Never did sit on a boulder and play them naked though! Sometime in the last year or two, I heard that Ralph Dolley had recently passed away. It seems he was living in one of the western states. Don't quote me on this,
I may be able to help with some of your questions.
1. Most people peg the beginning of serious logging in the Wassataquoik Valley around Katahdin to the Tracy and Love operation that started in 1883. If you can find Myron Avery's article on the history of the Wassataquoik, you could read more - it's in a volume of the AMC's magazine, Appalachia, from back in 1923 or so. …Anyway, he mentions that when the Tracy and Love crew were clearing the stream for driving logs in their operation, they found huge cuts of pine logs stranded on boulders in the stream, indicating a prior operation and attempt to drive the stream. No one was sure who would have run that earlier drive. It seems that the old Wassataquoik Tote Road from the East Branch of the Penobscot up toward the Wassataquoik headwaters was started in the mid-1800's and developed better during the Tracy and Love era. The big fires went through the basin around the Stream and Russell Pond in 1884 and the more severe one in 1903. The last major operation in that area was run by Edward Draper, who cut everything into 4-foot pulp and was able to flush everything down the stream much easier than in long log form. There was a smaller fire around the vicinity of Little Wassataquoik Lake and South Pogy Mountain apparently, and I've heard that this was in 1915. By then, any logging operation would have been winding down or over.
2. I've followed the outlet of Russell Pond down to its junction with Turner Brook, which drains Wassataquoik Lake. I was never aware of a particular name for it, and it's a pretty small brook. The outlet is a rocky brook bed which winds through mixed woods about 0.4 miles from the pond to Turner Brook. At that point, Turner Brook flows mostly east about 0.8 miles to its confluence with the main branch of Wassataquoik Stream. Less than a half mile downstream is the confluence with the South Branch Wassataquoik where the Stream lean-tos are located.
2. The Island on Wassataquoik Lake, at least presently, has a mix of pine, spruce and fir on it. I wouldn't know what might have been there in the 50's. Toward the skinny western end of the island, jutting out toward the middle of the lake, the tall conifers are all permanently leaning to the east, bent by the wind which blows almost constantly through the cut in which the lake sits.
– Brendan Curran, Hope, ME"
– Doug Campbell