40 pictures and some babbling about the return of the Boys from Texas for a five day centeral Baxter State Park adventure. The plan was a simple and relaxing one on paper, but the weather made things interesting at times.I hope you like this picture from the South Branch camping area looking towards Pogy, not so much because I put a lot of effort into it, but because it is the only picture from day one. We parked and loaded up packs just in time for a few sprinkles. I took a moment as we walked through the campground to the trail head to snap this. Good thing because soon after the sky opened and we were walking in rain for the rest of the day’s hike.We were soaked when we arrived at the Pogy LT, but the rain stopped about that time so setting up camp was easier at least. A good dinner and sleep helped, but putting on wet clothes the next morning was not part of the original plan.Things were still wet, on the ground and in the air. We set out in rain gear to protect against the wet undergrowth of the campsite spur.Some nice views across Pogy towards the mountain despite the less than nice weather.Things were starting to brighten up a bit as we passed through the Six Ponds area. Here we had the chance to test our balance using the outflow debris as a bridge at no risk since our boots were wet anyway.Then things really started to look up as we made our way around Wassataquoik Lake. We had sunshine, a nice breeze and glimpses of the mountains and cliffs rising up around the lake.The view from the shore in front of the Wassataquoik Lake LT didn’t include the island at the far end of the lake and we had no sense we were sharing this wilderness with anyone else.None of my maps give a name to this little knob but it can be easily climbed via a trail that loops around the far side and has great views.I had a nice view from under my tarp in camp too. With the lingering threat of showers it was nice to have some additional protected space since we were staying here for two nights.I think the boys may have tried some fishing that first evening, but I was content to just shoot some pictures.The mountain was getting ready for night, wrapping itself in what clouds it could find.If we had known this was the last calm we’d see at this site we would have been out paddling or fishing. I was too busy enjoying how pretty it was to think that far ahead.The next day was bright and breezy. Great weather for hanging out the hiking clothes, at least for a while. The boys were planning a quiet day around camp with hopes of fish for lunch, but I had a day hike up to Little Wassataquoik Lake on my to do list. It was a great day for hiking, not too hot and I had almost nothing in my pack besides water and lunch. Hiking below these cliffs was interesting in several ways.Seeing these chunks that had come down long ago standing next to the trail made you think about gravity and time. Well they did that for me at least.Then I reached my target for the day; the tent site named after Little Wass Lake, but not actually on the water. We had reservations to camp here later in the year as part of a family trip and I wanted to do a site inspection so we’d know what to expect. There was hope of leaving the tent at home and using the tarp and bug net to save weight. I made some measurements and took notes so I could figure out a plan later at home.Then I headed up the back side of that cliff via a short viewpoint trail and while it was steep it was definitely worth the climb.Looking back down at the lake our campsite was on the big point sticking out into the lake from the right side. It really isn’t that far or hard of a hike and would make a great day hike if staying down below.Little Wassataquoik Lake is indeed little in comparison to the larger neighbor. It seemed shallow and rocky. I don’t believe there is a canoe here for that reason. Just a nice place for peace and quiet. I was quiet enough to not drive this doe off when she was first startled by my approach and announced her presence.I resisted the urge to move to get a better angle and she rewarded me by moving around the trees to see what I was doing. She kept moving until I found myself snapping shots of her in this spot as she bobbed her head at me trying to figure out what the heck I was doing. This went on for a few minutes and I only wish I’d thought to hit the movie button.Long time readers will know who this shot is for 🙂Back in camp there was still plenty of time left to enjoy a lazy day off. Instead of planning a rugged mountain climbing adventure we were trying to relax more this year.This camp on the lake was certainly a nice spot to spend some time. The water was amazingly clear and still nice and cool in the middle of Summer. The wind kept us out of the canoe and made for poor shore fishing, but we had a nice couple of days there.On our way back out on day four we stopped at Green Falls reached via a short and wet side trail.It is a neat spot I’ve been to several times now and I think I’ll always be willing to make time for this side trip when I’m near by.Stopping to take pics and some video I sent the boys on ahead. Racing to catch back up I missed my turn onto the main trail and almost walked right into the lake. Since I was there I figured I would take a few more pics before racing back the other way after them.Then we were back at Pogy for our last night on trail. This time we were dry and in much better spirits. Sunshine and dry socks will do wonders for morale.It was hot though with barely a puff of breeze now and again. We sweltered through the late afternoon and then began to hear murmurs of thunder in the distance. As it drew nearer we made some efforts to prepare for a little shower while grumbling about the 10% chance of rain in the forecast. Given the lack of wind we expected vertical falling rain so I set up my tarp in a bit of a porch mode to get some air. Then there was this odd noise for a few minutes that we eventually placed as powerful wind and rain because it was upon us 🙂
Credit for the following pics goes to my brother who first pulled everything he could into the lean to and then took time to take pictures of me trying not to drown as my tarp floundered in the storm.
The Tato tarp connector sliding down the ridgeline is what led to my doom. This was after ten minutes of driving wind and rain. My brother has done some sailing so I trust his judgement of the winds which he thought were maxing out north of 40mph. Combined with the heavy downpour there was a lot more stress put on that tarp than I’d rigged it for. I never settle for a single hitch on that connector now and always double it up so it can’t go anywhere.After a while the storm tapered off into just a shower, but it had left a flood behind. This had been one whopper of a summer thunderstorm. Felt bad for anyone caught out on trail in that one.I stepped out into a bit of a puddle, but was able to stay under the tarp while getting it hooked back up properly. The next day while driving out we kept finding tree limbs and entire trees laying across the road. Guess there had been some sort of storm come though 🙂 The Boys from Texas always bring out Baxter’s best weather when they come! Thanks again to my brother for documenting my fight for survival. Day five started with some heavy looking skies over Pogy Pond. We knew the trail would be wet from the previous day, but now we were worried about more rain falling too. Still it looks sort of pretty and we were walking back to the car which is always easier.One last long look at the pond. Never enough of these moments so I try to soak them in when I can. Nature can be rough, make life difficult, but even at its darkest, there is great beauty.Climbing the bluffs along Upper South Branch Pond is always bittersweet. It is the last real effort before the flat trail that returns to the parking lot. I’m always happy to be up there and done with the work, but know that soon it will be time to start seeing the end of the fun too.Someone paddled over from the campground to start their day hike. We’ll end this trip here looking across South Branch Pond towards the campground, the car and civilization beyond.
It is always a pleasure to do this annual trip with the Boys, but boys do grow up. Not sure how long they will keep coming so I’m always glad when they say it is time to start making plans. Hope you folks have had a chance to make some plans this year. I know I have…