As usual the boys from Texas came up looking for adventure in the wilds of Baxter State Park. Once a year they arrive freshly steamed from the south to enjoy our pleasant climate, eat lobstahs and try to find a mountain to make them appreciate their flatland home for another year. Time constraints forced us into an early date in mid June and we hit the trifecta as far as bugs go. The black fly bloom was at its peak, but there were already plenty of mosquitoes and deer flies as well.
The plan was actually quite tame compared to some years. We had reservations for two nights at the Upper South Branch LT in hopes of doing the Traveler Loop followed by two days of relaxing at the Pogy Pond LT.
We had great weather to start and enjoyed the relaxing two miles or so we had to hike in to our site. Mostly flat with a big ridge in the middle it provided lots of different views of the pond. This view is from the camp site looking at the ridge we came over which sits at the base of the main part of the mountain and would be the start of our climb the following day.
The lean to at Upper South Branch is advertised as having room for four, but it definitely is one of the smaller ones in the park. The boys used their tents as bivies while I hung my bug net. I had a tarp prerigged so it could easily be deployed if a storm came up overnight as was expected, but we left thing open to enjoy the view and the breeze.
Sunset brought a period of complete stillness as I often find to be the case in these mountains. No matter what afternoon breezes blow there seems to be at least a short period of rest before the evening comes on.
There had been talk of a front coming through over night, but the red in the sunset made me think perhaps it had fizzled out. We’d have to see what the morning brought because this loop would not be safe to do if wet. Things certainly seemed peaceful as dark fell.
That peace didn’t last too long though. During the night the wind began to blow through the trees with gusto. It wasn’t as loud as being in the White Mountains when the wind comes up, but it made for restless sleep. Morning dawned to wind driven clouds covering the mountain. We never really saw much in the way of rain where we were, but we could see the peaks were scraping the clouds and at times the entire mountain disappeared from view.
Being wise old men with slow healing bones the elder block voted to stay safely below and watch the storm roll by. The youngster was wise enough not to argue. Based on how slippery the rocks were on the Pogy Notch trail the next day I think we made the right choice. Later in the year there is enough traffic to wear some of the moss off, but even on level ground it was pretty slippery at times so I’d guess that ridge would have been mighty treacherous.
So we moved on to Pogy Pond on day three. The storm had moved on leaving lots of sunshine and a pretty strong breeze. The bugs were bad here as well, but the views were fantastic.The wind made fishing a bit pointless so I kept up with the relaxation theme. Between swatting at bugs I found time to enjoy some of the good things Nature has to offer. These water plants had some very impressive blooms.
The pond also had some wild life. There were a lot of these giant tadpoles swimming about near the shore. I’m not certain if they are related to the booming bull frogs we heard later, but those sounded big as well.
The youngster studies bugs as part of his college program, but has a strong aversion to feeding them. He often relaxes completely covered from head to toe for protection. I tend to rely on swatting as much as possible so I don’t have to wear all those clothes.
We did have one bug issue I couldn’t abide by. There were a couple of wasp nests inside the lean to. I’m a pretty big stickler for following rules, but opted to be an outlaw in this case and sleep outside. The price was a vicious no-see-em attack on the second night, but I’d never have been able to sleep next to those wasps.
The boys took the canoe out for a spin and tried some fishing but the wind made both a bit challenging. Darn pretty place to paddle around though. I did some casting from a rock near shore, but the wind made it seem more like a comedy routine than fishing.
I did get this shot of a huge dragon fly. Always happy to see these guys around as they love to eat mosquitoes. No wonder it was so big when you consider the food supply it had access to.
The wind finally calmed down towards the end of our last day. Watching the sun set light up the mountain without having to climb it seemed a bit too easy, but still wonderful to enjoy.Not the trip we had planned, but so much more relaxing than our previous struggles with roaring floods and gravity. The talk is of trying to get back to more serious efforts next year, but to tell the truth, I’m ok with this style once in a while.
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