Baxter Part 3 – Six Days on the Wassataquoik Lake Trail

52 pics and some babbling from the grand finale of our two weeks in the Baxter State Park area.

We dropped our little camper girl back at Girl Scout Camp for her second week and headed towards the Baxter gate as the sky over the mountain turned ominous. Just past the gatehouse it began to pour for most of the ride out towards Nesowadnehunk where the Wassataquoik Lake Trail leaves the tote road. Thankfully it let up just before we parked so we started with wet trail, but not in the rain.

We’ve done this trail before with our daughter, so we knew despite our late start we could get to the Center Pond LT in time for dinner. Some blue sky and sunshine after the storm was appreciated.

The sun didn’t penetrate this dense forest though and the trail was a bit treacherous at times. Thankfully being very flat for the most part the boots stuck to the ground most of the time.

The outlet bog from Center Pond told us we were close, which was reassuring as we watched more storm clouds building on several sides.

After setting up the bug house in the lean to we headed down to the pond to see where the weather was headed. This one moved left to right at a distance, but another passed over head with some thunder and more rain.

Hiking past the inlet bog the next morning we were happy for more sunshine. This trail is wet enough without more rain.

Bog boards can be your friend or your enemy, sometimes both at once. We were only doing about a five mile day, so took our time. Somewhere in this section Frau Stranger’s foot slipped off of a board and she sunk in up to her knee. The same board that was to blame saved her when she sat down on it laughing. She told me she’d wait while I got my camera out, but I insisted on digging her out with my hiking pole.

Thankfully there were plenty of small water crossings to help wash some of the mud off. This part of the trail is wet and sort of dark with lots of roll to the terrain. Neat to walk through, but always a pleasure to finish. There is one short, but steep climb at the end that makes it a joy to reach the spur to the tent site at the top.

There is an open area that is totally exposed to the early afternoon sunshine, but the Little Wassataquoik Tent Site has a place to hide from it. This tree provides part of the canopy over what we like to call The Grotto 🙂

Sitting on the rocks, listening to the waterfall, relaxing in the shade were our reward for climbing up here. There were several frogs and even a couple very tiny fish. Easy access to nice cold drinking water was also a joy.

The next morning we were sorry to leave this spot. I’d reserved this trip late and patched together what I could from the few available sites. Our day three itin was taking us all the way around Wassataquoik Lake and then up to Russell Pond Campground in the middle of the park. We hadn’t met anyone else on trail up to this point, but today we’d see plenty. Day hiking out of Russell is very popular.

The hike past Little Wassataquoik in the morning light was very pretty. A little bumpy to start and then down towards the big lake below. We’d be staying there the following night, but today were headed to Russell.

The LTs 1-4 along the shore are better for moose watching, but #5 is way off by itself. You get privacy at the price of a really long extra walk in and out of the site.

You probably didn’t notice the moose in that previous picture that was made with a GoPro. I ran back to camp and dug out the camera with better zoom to shoot this one on the far side of the lake.

On the way back to the LT I noticed some of the blueberries were looking ripe. Tasted darn nice as a pre dinner snack. A storm passed over and left everything wet, but we timed it well and were under the roof when it hit.

Speaking of roofs…the privy at this site is a Baxter work of art. Plein air indeed!

Day four was meant to be a relaxing, shorter hike back to the Wassataquoik Lake LT. Green Falls is a short side hike along the way we’d skipped on the way in and we were looking forward to revisiting a favorite spot. Then the sky darkened and we stepped up our pace. At the spur to the falls it was decided that making haste to the lean to would be wise. We were walking in the shadow of a rather large cliff at this point, so the storm hit with no warning. Our luck had run out and were were soaked when we arrived at camp in time for the storm to end.

We put on our dry camp clothes and put the wet stuff out to drip dry. This site is one of the prettiest in the park and we weren’t going to let a little wet stop us from enjoying it.

We lingered a bit on the fifth day as we only had a very short hike back up to The Grotto with a stop at the viewpoint for lunch. Husky Dog, ready to leave when we were said, “Arooo?”

Those last two are shots of the top of the cliff looming over us. If I am going to carry that heavy camera with me I’m darn well going to play with it heh. I took a bunch of these super zooms, shooting through gaps in the leaves, until I realized I didn’t want to think about those big chunks falling down on me.

The climb up to Little Wassataquoik went quickly. We were looking forward to lunch on top of the viewpoint. Definitely motivated hikers!

The ridge behind us totally blocked the breeze so we were baking in the sun on the hot rocks. We ate and hung out for a long time and then enjoyed the shock of the cool breeze just a few yards into the woods behind us.

Back to The Grotto to relax before our last night’s dinner. We made plans to get up at 5am and hit the trail early. Our goal was to drive into town for lunch before heading back to pick up our Girl Scout.

Still a little time to relax though. Time to appreciate what a wonderful two weeks we’d had. The weather had been gentle in terms of heat and we’d danced between the rain aside from the one soaker.

We took long enough to have some coffee while we broke camp, but were on our way darn early by our standards. It was cool and we moved at a good pace.

When we reached the mud pit that almost ate Frau Stranger we stopped to check how deep it was. I started to meet resistance at this point, but could have pushed deeper.

Sitting on that bog board may have saved her because it looks like she would have gone well over the knee otherwise. Just glad I was there to dig her out, though she says she could have done it alone.

We reached the Center Pond spur in just a little over two hours and that was the hard part of the day. If we didn’t break our legs on any bog boards that lunch plan was looking totally doable.

And just like that we found ourselves back at the first and last water crossing of our six day jaunt. Clean clothes stashed in the car were a joy as was lunch a few hours later. Given the chance I am pretty sure we’d all have been willing to do a third week!

Videos from this trip have yet to be edited and I’ve already been on another adventure around my old favorite, the Grafton Loop. Catching up as I can here as I can. Hope your Summer has been busy with fun as well. If not, hurry and get out there!!

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