78 pics and some random babbling from what turned out to be a pretty random toddle around parts of the northern end of Baxter State Park.I parked the scoot at Matagamon Wilderness Camps as usual. They keep the animals from chewing off my tires or nesting in my helmet, plus it gives me an excuse to have an ice cream cone at the end of the trip.
Weather was looking a bit gloomy but I didn’t get rained on during the ride or my walk to camp. Light shower hit just as I was pulling my tarp out and I was sheltered for the small random showers that passed during the afternoon and evening.There was a pretty solid breeze blowing into the Long Pond Pines site as is often the case. It really helps knock the bugs back some. Being early June the black flies were thick, but recent warm rains had the mosquitoes well represented too. With the wind blowing it was possible to eat dinner without a net. Calmer nights on this trip found me eating carefully inside my hammock or tent to escape the onslaught.My friend the beaver stopped by while making his rounds. There is a large mound on the far shore they call home, but they think of the entire pond as belonging to them. I was given a few tail slaps to let me know I was on notice before he moved on.
I actually fell asleep for a bit listening to light rain on the tarp. Thankfully I woke up and had dinner before night fell. It was breezy all night, but I slept pretty well. Woke up confused as heck in the morning as it seemed someone was shining a bright light under my tarp…it was dawn 🙂 I’ve had this happen before and it makes me go from fearful I’m under attack to laughing like a mad man in just a few seconds.It was actually a very peaceful morning and I was in no hurry. My big plans for a 100 mile loop were crushed by heavy snow at Chimney Pond preventing the area from being open yet. Instead I had a week of relaxing days with short miles and pretty camps. Such suffering!There was one of these to be dealt with though. Thankfully it didn’t growl or spit flames so I just said hi and took a few pics.This one also seemed friendly enough. Considering they love to eat mosquitoes I definitely think of these guys as friends!!I had a few miles to my next camp, mostly through denser forests. These are some of the pines that give the camp site its name. The walk up this hill is always something I do slowly and take time to appreciate the trees and the views from higher up onto the esker. Once I reached my new camp at the Middle Fowler South site I soon noticed my neighbors from across the pond out fishing in a canoe. Given the strong winds that blew relentlessly I’m guessing the fishing was not good.I’d never camped at this spot before though I had walked through it on a few other trips. It was more sheltered from the current winds so the bugs were thicker. Definitely a night for eating under a net or food would go flying with all the bug swatting heh.
There were more showers during the night, but nothing of any consequence. I had the tarp low on one side to block the wind, but propped up in porch mode on the lee. That gave me this nice view without having to get out of bed.One last look over Middle Fowler before heading back to Long Pond. Barrel Ridge is a possible target for a day hike on a family trip we have planned once school gets out. I’ve been most of the way up there but never all the way to the top.Not sure if this is the same guy I saw the first day, but he looks familiar. Still not growling 🙂I brought along this 3P tent I am testing for two reasons: 1) It makes a great place to hide from the bugs 2) It is really light so can be carried as a second shelter without much effort. A great place to eat dinner when other things are trying to dine on you!This woodpecker seemed to come and go regularly. He never stopped on any one tree for long so it was a challenge to get him in pics.I made myself try a few casts even though I was pretty sure it was too windy. It was heh. The loons didn’t seem to mind too much. They do their fishing under water so it doesn’t bother them. They put on a great show sometime in the middle of the night. I woke to the sound of big splashes right near my hammock. It was fish jumping out of the water to feed on bugs. Then the loons went off for about ten minutes straight. Hard to be mad at the fish after that.Morning was again an unrushed affair and I could get used to that sort of thing. Two cups of coffee and my first chance to try out the tiny frying pan. No eggs I’m sorry to say, but hash browns with red peppers came out pretty well. Going to need a larger pan for family trips though. Takes too long to make three single portions, but this worked well for a solo treat.The beaver mound across the pond. Where I grew up beaver never seemed to build on shore but I see this frequently in ME and NH. Maybe different predators, not sure of the why.Some ducks came flying out of this wet area as I headed around Troutbrook Mountain towards the campground on the other side.These were gone a few days later when I came back this way and there didn’t seem to be feathers all over so I’m hoping they fledged and headed up into the trees safely.I had this walk in lean to site right on the brook all to myself for my fourth night out. The bugs were terrible here as the area is more sheltered. The LT was also full of rodent poop which didn’t excite me much. Noticing a huge dead tree looming right over the site convinced me to take a chance on offending any wandering rangers and setting up my hammock.I found an amazing spot above the brook.I was setting up there when I realized I’d destroy a patch of wild flowers just barely hanging on to the hill if I camped in that spot so moved to a less pretty one. Figured I’d sleep better that way, but….This spot really was sheltered. I guess that is why they put the big campground there. Something about the mountains or the lake, I dunno, but it was the only spot that didn’t have strong winds the entire week. Maybe breaking out my kite to give it a try was what killed the wind there, heh.It was plenty warm, but the bugs drove me to light a smokey fire. It was really dry for the time of year so I kept it very small.I’m wearing all of those clothes to keep the bugs off, not because I am cold. So long as I was just hanging out I’d wear both of my insulating layers in camp with the hoods up. Nice not to have to wear the head net all the time.Then it was time for the six miles or so of Freezeout Trail that would lead me to my next camp. Lots of backed up dead water areas even with the dry Spring, though some that are usually wet were totally empty.This big flat rock formation has trees that try to grow there. Once they get a little bigger the inability to put down deep roots dooms them to fall over.Makes a great spot for other stuff to grow though. Several types of mosses were doing their part to break the tree down.The giant saw dust pile is hard to wrap the brain around. Many years ago there was a sawmill here that processed logs into lumber before floating the finished product off to market. The mill is long gone, but the saw dust fades more slowly. It is hard to describe how strange this spot feels. The saw dust is spongy under foot and a person walks gently by instinct, making certain each step is supported before trusting it fully. Check out the video below to get another perspective on this spot.
The turn off for the trail that leads to Frost Pond. That is actually the trail on the left, but you’d never guess that without the signs. Unfortunately those are the only signs at this intersection and it has been this way for years. There are no indicators for the other two directions so you’re on your own as far as navigation.This is what the intersection looks like if you are headed in the other direction along the Freezeout Trail. Unless you happen to look over and notice the back of those signs poking out from behind that tree you’d never notice. The footpath provides no indication of the intersection at all. I know from experience that this can be a problem because we totally missed this turn on a previous trip.Ahhh time to relax. I had a long afternoon to try some fishing on Webster Brook but again the winds were strong and the fish timid. I caught one good sized trout but opted to let him live. These “ducks” kept quacking at me so I was disappointed to come home and have Frau Stranger tell me that they are not ducks. She labeled them as Common Mergansers, but they seemed pretty special to me 🙂It was a very relaxing afternoon and evening. Along with many birds in the trees and on the water a beaver came swimming up stream near sunset.Since I had firewood collected in case I caught fish I decided to put it to good use. Baking some muffins is both relaxing and rewarding. The only hard part is trying not to lift the lid. Too early for fresh blueberries yet, but the ones in the mix smelled good enough I was worried I might start pulling in bears. Such a nice treat to have baked goods on day 5 of a trip.Day 6 started out cold. It was tempting to sleep in, but instead I jumped out and got a fire going. I almost never light fires, but I burned up my entire stash of fuel that morning. There was a bucket in the outhouse so I doused it well before I left you can be sure.First though it was time for another test of the tiny pan. Today it was pancakes with maple syrup.The silicon muffin mold made a pretty good pancake plate. Just a squeeze of syrup and two quick bites. I had half a dozen or more that morning along with several cups of coffee. Living the dream!Then I moved a whopping half a mile to the NW Cove tent site. I’d walked through this spot many times on my way out to camps farther out. Just for the fun of it I booked a night here to see how it slept. On closer inspection it wasn’t much of a site.This must be a very old outhouse as I haven’t seen this design in any other parts of the park. The roof was entirely covered in moss.Looks like the instructions weren’t specific enough for the last user. I’m guessing the paper was supposed to go inside the box, maybe?Looking back at where Webster Brook flows out into the lake. My previous camp was just around that far point to the left.I’d seen this eagle fly close overhead while I was in the trees the day before. When I saw him coming I raced to get my camera out and fired up but this was the only shot I was able to get off before he got out of view.Definitely nice to have some place to get away from the bugs. I rigged the roof in case the weather changed but spent the entire night in bug house mode enjoying the views. Then I decided to start playing around with my camera. A few long exposures before bed, a few more in the middle of the night and then a couple more at dawn.Then it was time to fly. I burned through the first six miles in under two hours. Then another two hours had me back at the scoot eating ice cream. There was time for a few more pics along the way though.Before I wrap this up I have to give a shout out to Mother Nature for all of the wildlife I saw on this trip. Yes there were lots of bugs, but so many other amazing sights. On day one I startled a snoozing moose on the Five Ponds Trail between Billfish and Long Ponds. We were too close to think about a camera and I focused on keeping trees between us while it figured out what I was. That night’s camp had beaver, loons, gulls, woodpeckers, red winged blackbirds as did most of my camps throughout the week. Day 5 included a bear sighting on the Freezeout Trail and the bald eagle that flew over very low plus the Mergansers and some pretty but very fast tweety birds that I could only get blurry pictures of.
Oh and last but not least, there was one more animal out there. On the fourth night there was something stomping around breaking sticks that woke me up. I made noises to scare it off and that seemed to freak it out. There was rapid running and stomping which made me make more noise in defense. Then whatever it was ran right at and under me in my hammock with big stomping feet! I haven’t been scared like that in maybe ever and was thinking it might be time to start worrying. Then I finally managed to get a light on the great beast….a bunny! I laughed and fell instantly asleep so if it wasn’t just the bunny I saw I don’t want to know.
I had such fun on this trip that as soon as I got home I talked to the girls about our planned trip to NH when school gets out. It has been replaced with four nights at Baxter hehe. It is just such a beautiful place that lets you reserve privacy rather than hope for the best. I just need to find a bigger frying pan 🙂
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