Martin Ponds and South Katahdin Lake – Family Baxter Trip May 2016

36 pictures from a late May, early season, visit to Baxter State Park. The girls were ready to get out for their first trip of the year so we booked three nights in an area near the south end of the park.

IMG_6043aWe aren’t afraid of the early season bugs because we come prepared. Good thing too because those early season bugs certainly weren’t afraid of us! I’d treated our clothing with permethrin which only left them with our heads and hands to target. Head nets might look a bit silly, but they make all the difference on a visit to the Maine woods in the late Spring and early Summer.IMG_6041aThe light in the forest was amazing! Still the clear, white light of Spring, but strong with the coming intensity of the approaching Summer. IMG_6046aWe didn’t have far to travel compared to my usual solo adventures, but part of keeping it fun for everyone is keeping the distances realistic for a five year old. Starting out from the Avalanche Field trailhead we covered the first two miles pretty fast as the trail followed an old logging road and was pretty flat.IMG_6048aReaching the turn off for the Martin Ponds trail we left the flat of the old road and walked on some authentic Maine hills, mostly up, towards our destination.IMG_6051aApproaching from the boggy end we could see the open water of the pond ahead. Later, after a good look at the pond I realized that all the ends were boggy.IMG_6052aThe Martin Ponds lean to advertises room for six. This was our first attempt at family camping in a lean to so we were glad to have plenty of room. I was able to rig up our Kelty TR3 to keep the bugs off of us while we slept which was our hope. Pretty sure we’ll be investing in some sleeping nets in the near future which are a lot more flexible in terms of fitting inside LTs. I have used one on solo trips for years. Best $7 I ever spent, but I think I may invest in something more substantial for us.IMG_6055aThe girls headed down to the pond to enjoy the breeze. I’d often heard that this spot was one of the best places to view Katahdin and I have to agree. So much easier than climbing up there and seeing it up close, that’s for sure!IMG_6062aLater I went down to spend a moment alone on the shore only to notice that I wasn’t alone. Mrs Moose had been standing on the far side, out of the water until she saw me. She moved into the water and browsed for a minute so I ran to bring the girls down to see.IMG_6064aBy the time we returned the cow was swimming half way across the pond. We watched, whispering in awe, as she swam towards us and then veered off as she approached. I can never tell if they are just checking us out when they do this or putting on a show for the cameras.IMG_6066aShe took to the shore and dawdled a bit making sure we had time to get a few more shots before disappearing into the forest.IMG_6067aWe still had plenty of nature to enjoy though. There were a wide variety of frogs providing background music throughout the afternoon and evening. There also were some lovely Spring flowers to be seen including this Hobblebush which we mistook for some sort of dogwood.IMG_6069aWe also were there at the right time to see some Painted Trillium at their peak. These only last for a few days and then disappear for another year.IMG_6074aSunset over the pond was calm and quite froggy. Things cooled rapidly once the sun dropped and a shower came through overnight.IMG_6079aIn the morning we were off to our next camp at South Katahdin Lake. It was only about a two mile hike, but with lots of interesting terrain for a five year old. We were all happy to reach the lake shore, especially since it looked like there might be more rain on the way.IMG_6080bThe ceiling was a bit higher than the last time I visited this site, though only the foot of East Turner was visible on the far shore. We’d see some rain as the afternoon went on, but nothing like that trip thankfully!!IMG_6083aI think the expression is “Great weather for a duck.” but the local loon population seemed pretty happy as well. There seemed to be a group of at least four or five that was hanging around near our camp on the shore.IMG_6101aWe had some breaks in the clouds near sunset, but not enough to reveal the big mountains to our west.IMG_6104aMorning brought definite signs of clearing, but this bank of clouds remained for some time. Watching it closely I realized it was a long narrow tube of moisture being pushed around the side of the mountain in a steady stream. Weather does some weird things around these big peaks poking up all of a sudden.IMG_6107aWe had a great day for hanging around and exploring. This flowage enters the lake just downstream, but is backed up by something resembling a beaver dam.IMG_6108aNot sure if any beaver were involved in this or not, as they usually do a better job on construction. I do know those bog boards are the trail crossing we arrived on the day before and that tilted one towards the top was very interesting while wearing the big daddy pack.IMG_6111aThis was a day of many walks as our daughter was taking full advantage of her time in the woods. We’d no more than sit down from one than she would announce it was time to begin another. We visited all the local landmarks and even roamed through the nearby Katahdin Lake Camp and some distance beyond. I have no real account to rely on, but would guess we did at least seven miles that day.IMG_6117aThere was some time for cards though. This girl never stops even when she stops so we know to bring along plenty of things to keep her entertained. Of course that is never enough which is why I’m sure a few minutes after this picture it was time for another walk.IMG_6133aWith the low cloud deck finally gone the mountain came into full view. We couldn’t see it from our camp site, but thankfully we had plenty of chances to see it on our walks.IMG_6138aLater in the afternoon the breeze died down enough we felt confident enough to try taking the canoe out. On a lake this size the weather can cause a lot of trouble so we opted to just take a tour around the nearby island.IMG_6141aBetween the breeze that was still blowing and my wife’s incredibly powerful paddling stroke I had to spend most of my time focused on manning the rudder. I did manage to get a few shots of the mountain from this unique perspective in the middle of the lake.IMG_6144aWe earned our dinner that day for sure! Between all the walks and a bit of paddling everyone was ready for a bag of dinner. She may be only five but she is getting the hang of eating out of a freezer bag like a pro. I made her a special chili mac without the added dehydrated salsa that went into the parent’s portions which were also a bit larger.IMG_6147aI didn’t want to fill her up with chili mac and have her turning down toasted  marshmallows. My wife is an artist when it comes toasting, patient and always aiming for perfection.  IMG_6150aOne last sunset over the mountains before the clouds moved back in. Again I was reminded of my previous visit, tired, wet, wet and wet. That was an adventure, but I’m pretty sure this was more fun. Maybe next time we’ll try the north end of the lake!menv1The next day brought showers which arrived just about the exact time we left camp. We had three miles of trail to cover including some wet and slippery bog boards. The girls put on raincoats but in warm temperatures like this I prefer to just get wet. Well up to a point at least heh.IMG_6156aWe didn’t let a little shower keep us from stopping for a snack break. Loading up afterwards I could tell the little one was enjoying being out in the rain. I didn’t realize just how much until she saw a trail head sign on the drive out and tried to get me to stop so we could go on a hike. That’s my girl!!

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