[August 1, 2011]
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