“…a suitably wild looking sheet of water…”

 

Hello again, dear reader! I’m back again with another Thoreau themed blog, this time about his second trip into our Maine woods. Tuck in with a comfy blanket and a cup of tea and enjoy the mental journey!

The second excursion that Thoreau took into our beautiful Moosehead Lake Region followed the now Thoreau-Wabanaki Trail that roughly parallels Route 15. Again, he traveled with his Uncle George, but with two different guides than his previous trip. They were two Penobscot guides, Joseph Attean and Sabattis Solomon. The goal for this trip was for Uncle George to shoot himself a moose.

They took a steamer across the lake, which Thoreau viewed as “suitably wild” and whose island were covered in “shaggy spruce”. If you’re not from this area, we still have a steam ship that operates on our waters, the Katahdin. It’s used for tourist trips now, but originally had been used for the logging business.
Thoreau climbed Mount Kineo, which he described as the “principal feature of the lake” and gave descriptions on the rhyolite that is found there, which is fairly well known within the archaeological community of New England. Later, when camping just off Moosehead Lake, Thoreau encountered the will-o-the-wisp, and phosphorescent glow that is produced by rotting wood. Thoreau commented that the wood was “choke-full” of spirits. Now-a-days, if I saw that and didn’t know that interesting tidbit about rotting wood, I’d think I had stumbled into a horror movie. Luckily, Thoreau had knowledgable guides and hadn’t been exposed to many Guillermo del Toro movies.

They eventually reached North East Carry which is located at the top of Moosehead Lake, but couldn’t distinguish really between Moosehead Lake and West Branch once they moved onto the Penobscot. They camped on an island now known as Thoreau Island and began looking for Uncle George’s moose. However, the area was over hunted so they moved on, continuing down West Branch in their 19 foot canoe, known as a “birch,” which was carrying almost 600 pounds of luggage. They looked all over but couldn’t seem to find a moose for Uncle George. They tried up Lobster Stream, but only found freshwater lobster, which I’m assuming are crayfish. So, they went back to West Branch and continued on.

Once they traveled a little further, Thoreau began to notice the trails along the water that were well worn and frequented by moose. Moose, who he call “great frightened rabbits.” Now, dear reader, I don’t know if you’ve ever encountered a moose, but that’s a fairly accurate description. They’re big, they spook easy, have big floppy ears, and move fast. But, Uncle George got his moose! Thoreau described the skinning of the moose in fairly horrific detail, talking about the “still warm and palpitating body.” Despite the tragic tones of his description, they dined on it that night at Pine Falls, which has since been back-flowed and no longer exists.

On Chesuncook lake, Thoreau noted that there was nary an island. Back then, what is now known as Gero Island was only a peninsula and was only formed with the creation of Ripogenous Dam and the back flow of the lake. He stopped at a farm and remarked that it was the crude beginnings of a small town. This marked the final stop along Thoreau’s 1853 journey.

Thoreau is a poet, as can be seen with the quotes that are sprinkled through this whole blog. And he was also a romantic. He commented many times that his Penobscot guides were a link to the past of our country, but lamented that they seemed to be modern people. Even remarking about how one of them was whistling a contemporary song such as O, Susanna. But he did acknowledge that they were a living tradition. He also commented that a poet is who truly understands the forest and makes the “truest use of the pine.”

As ever, dear reader, I invite you to come visit our amazing region, and see all of this beauty and majesty for yourself. I promise you will not be disappointed.

Skye Hinkley

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Thoreau 1846 Journey

View from Thoreau Park

View from Thoreau Park


Henry David Thoreau, the well-known author, spent a bit of time in the Moosehead Lake Region. We’ve commemorated this, at least in Greenville, with Thoreau Park right on the tip of the lake. His famous novel, The Maine Woods, is a collection of his own hand-written accounts of the time that he spent in the area. He made three trips into the Maine woods, in 1846, 1853, and 1857. What I want to do with this blog, dear reader, is describe the first one. The three trips are expansive, and have been described in great detail. So, to pique your interest, but not bore the stuffing out of you, I want to describe them to you in a series of blogs, leading up to the Thoreau-Wabanaki Trail Festival in July!

Thoreau’s first trip was in 1846, and it was a two week excursion into the Maine wilderness, the destination was Mount Katahdin. He was accompanied by his uncle, George Thatcher, as well as two waterman George McCauslin and Thomas Fowler. They traveled up the Penobscot, through Old Town and passed Indian Island. They took their bateau through what Thoreau described as the “Lake Country of New England.” He also talks about two warring forces, the wilderness versus an army of loggers. He calls it the War on the Pines.” He is not totally against the logging industry. He knows that the woods of Maine are an economic resource, one that must be tapped in order for people to make a living. From Thoreau’s first perspective, to now, people still have this debate.

Once they get onto the West Branch lakes, Thoreau said “no face welcomed us but the fine fantastic sprays of free and happy evergreen trees, waving one above another in their ancient home.” You can hear the romanticism in the way he talks about the forests and he has an obvious reverence for them. Anyone who wanders the woods, even now, can see their beauty and how 150 years ago they would be absolutely awe-inspiring. Thoreau reaches Katahdin and begins his ascent. However, before he can reach the top, he is beset upon by a bank of fog and must return to the base. And, if you haven’t read Lost on a Mountain in Maine, something I know I’ve mentioned before, you should read it to see the dangers of fog on Mount Katahdin. He makes his way back to Old Town, commenting on the sounds of the saws and how they never cease. This marked the end of his first journey, but it certainly wasn’t his last.

I grew up here, and was spoiled by the beauty that surrounds me on a daily basis. Growing up, I fell asleep to the sounds of the wind, the loons, and an occasional coyote. The quiet and the peace you feel when you’re in the depth of the woods is incomparable. Once in a while, you’ll get lost in your day to day life, but there’s always something that reminds you to stop and actually absorb the world around you. I believe that Thoreau had a particular gift for that, and for expressing it in such a way that no matter where you’re from, you can feel what he felt while walking through the woods come off the page and take root in your mind. Life moves so fast now and we need to be constantly busy. Always we have our cell phones and are connected to everyone and everything. But, I believe that every once in a while, we need to reconnect with where we live, and listen to the woods around us.

So, my dear reader, take a lesson from Thoreau, and come visit our amazing region and experience the peace and awe for yourself. I promise that you won’t be disappointed.

Skye Hinkley

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Sweet Summertime

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Hello again, dear reader! With this blog, I want to tell you about my favorite season in the Moosehead Lake Region; summertime. Now, don’t get me wrong, all the seasons are amazing. There is something beautiful and melancholy about Fall, about watching the leaves change color and fall, about feeling with the temperature slowly get colder and the trees become bare. Winter is phenomenal. There is nothing quite like waking up on a bright, sunny morning and finding new snow on the ground. Spring is all about renewal, growing grass, budding trees and flowers, watching the snow recede and the ice thaw on the lake. It’s gorgeous to watch the change happening. But there is nothing like summertime in the Moosehead Lake Region.

Originally, I’m from away. I’m a Mainer, through and through, but I didn’t move to the Moosehead Lake Region until the beginning of 1st grade. However, my grandparents and great grandparents have always had camps up on Fire Lane 5 in Lily Bay (or Walter’s Road) since before I was born. Every single one of my summers has been spent in the Moosehead Lake Region. We’d spend hours swimming, jumping off the dock or the float. We’d run around in the woods building cabins or hunting for old glass bottles. Even on rainy days we had fun, we’d sit on the porch wrapped up in blankets playing card games like Spit and War, or we’d play board games like Clue and Monopoly. A lot of times, we’d read. It wasn’t until I was in high school that we had anything more than old VHS tapes to watch on rainy days. I can’t accurately describe the feeling of sitting outside on a sunny, warm summer day with a cold drink, a book, and just the sound of the loons to keep you company.

But, I digress. I wanted to tell you about the amazing things that you can do in this area in the summer. Because, truly, you can never be bored when you’re in the Moosehead Lake Region, many of them are centered around the water, but not all of them.

As I’ve already mentioned, swimming is a huge past time here, and there are many different places to go if you want to swim on a beach, jump off some rocks, use a rope swing. There is also canoeing and kayaking. These are excellent activities. They get you out on the lake and aren’t hard to learn. Just a quick tutorial on paddling and you’ll get the hang of it pretty quick. The trick is balance. :) Canoes and kayaks can get you into those hard to reach places that a boat can’t get you, up a small brook, right along the shoreline. You can enjoy them with someone or on your own.The beauty of the region is that we aren’t just a lake. We have wonderful ponds and rivers that are also great for canoeing and kayaking. Just be safe and smart about it. Advice I feel I give every blog, but is always prudent.

Now that the ice is officially out, boating is also fun that you can have on the water. Every summer my grandfather would get us in the boat and we’d go tubing, wakeboarding, kneeboarding, and waterskiing. After everyone was too tired to hang on anymore, we’d stop somewhere in the middle of the bay, where it was nice and deep, and jump or dive off the bow of the boat. We’d cannonball each other, trying to create the biggest splash. Another thing we always did with the boat is pack lunch and take the boat to Spencer Bay or Pebble Beach on Kineo. There were day long excursions where we’d swim and splash to our heart’s content.

Hiking is an activity that I’ve mentioned in previous blogs. The views from the mountains surrounding the Moosehead Lake Region are phenomenal! And there are hikes for all ages and skill levels. If you’re feeling adventurous, try hiking the 100 Mile Wilderness or Mount Katahdin. Stop in at the Visitor’s Center and pick yourself up a copy of our free Hiking Guide. This will give you directions, skill level, and some information about the hikes in our area.

Fishing is a huge pastime in this region and there are so many places to do it. You can obviously fish right in Moosehead Lake. Some of the fish you might catch are lake trout, salmon, brook trout, cusk, or smallmouth bass. Everyone has different spots that they prefer, if you ask around someone will let you know which is popular at the time. You can also fish in many of the small ponds in the area. For instance, there’s Wilson Pond, Sawyer Pond, Prong Pond, First Roach Pond (and there are quite a few of these), Long Pond, Shadow Pond, and many, many more. Here you might find brook trout, some salmon, white perch, yellow perch. It depends on the pond, really. River fishing is big as well. The most popular is West Outlet. Here there is a season-long smallmouth bass fishery.

A few weeks ago, I wrote a couple of blogs on the birding in the area. The Moosehead Lake Region is part of the Maine Birding Trail, so there are many different species of bird that can be seen in and around our area. Check it out if birding is something that is enjoyable to you!

This area is also got some absolutely gorgeous views. Just driving around the lake you can find some wonderful vistas that are breathtaking. Going for a Sunday afternoon drive is something that my family used to do all the time, even after all this time I am still blown away by what’s around me.

Our area also has miles and miles of ATV trails! This is a great activity that many visitor’s enjoy. You can bring your own, if you have them, or rent from business in town. Many people see wildlife and beautiful vistas that are hidden from the roads and the rest of civilization. Be careful because sometimes the trails take dips and turns your not expecting. Also, be aware of down trees and always stay on marked trails, so if you break down or something happens, you’re where someone can get to you.

If you’re looking to have someone take you on guided trips, whether it be for moose watching, ATVing, fishing, hiking, hunting, boating, bird watching, or white water rafting, there are plenty of guides in our area who offer these services. This is an excellent idea if you’re not from the area and don’t feel comfortable exploring on your own. The Maine woods can be intimidating, and with good reason. I’ve lived here for a good portion of my life and I still like to take someone with more experience with me. So, if you feel that a guided trip is more your style, check out our Vacation Guide, there’s an entire page dedicated to Guides and Guided trips.

Honestly, I could sit here for days and days and wax poetic about the activities and fun that you can have in our region. But, truly, you have to experience it for yourself to see what I’m saying is accurate. So, as ever, dear reader, come visit the Moosehead Lake Region, come experience the beauty and quiet of our area. I promise that you will not be disappointed.

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Hiking Saftey

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Hello again, dear reader! As summer moves swiftly towards us, our ability to actually go outside and enjoy the great outdoors is also getting closer! Hiking is one of my favorite past times in the summer (besides swimming) and the Moosehead Lake Region has some pretty amazing hikes. There is just something about escaping from the noises of civilization and just listening to the sounds of the woods. There are so many different hikes in the Moosehead Lake Region that I couldn’t possibly do them all the justice they deserve. Therefore, the point of this entry is to give you just a couple of tips to keep you safe on the trails. (If you want to see how day-hike can go horribly wrong, read the book Lost on a Mountain in Maine by Don Fendler, that is quite the eye-opener)

As a perpetual worry wart, I generally try to prepare for every possible scenario without going overboard and looking crazy. When it comes to hiking, there are a few safety ideals that I follow to the letter. I never hike alone. I know that sometimes you feel like you need to take a break from everyone and everything and escape for a bit, but it can be dangerous hiking by yourself. We all know about 127 Hours, so take that lesson to heart. If you are going to hike alone, make sure you let someone know exactly where you’re going, and don’t forget to let them know that you’ve returned safely so they don’t call the entire State out after you.

Staying on marked trails is always a very wise bit of advice. It’s adventurous to wander off, no doubt. If you must, make sure you mark your trail and maybe have a GPS on you, just in case. A compass is good as well, because we all know the batteries don’t die in those. I know just about every smart phone has GPS and a compass app, but please be smart. When you’re hiking in the woods, there’s a good chance that you won’t have service, or that your phone will die. But, if you’re lost and your phone happens to have both service and battery life, describe where you are in great detail so that whoever is coming will know where to find you.

Another wise tidbit is if you’re going to hike near streams or waterfalls, watch the rocks! They shift and can be ridiculously slippery. Knocking your head on a rock is bad enough, knocking it next to water is much worse. Essentially, know where you’re stepping! I always have a walking stick with me to test things out, or to use as a support when I’m taking dangerous steps.

Another tip I’ve mentioned in many of my safety blogs is dress in layers! Or pack them, even if it’s unseasonably warm, or there’s a high humidity percentage. I promise you, if you get into some dire straits, these layers can be life saving. And make sure that the layer closest to you skin isn’t cotton. Cotton absorbs moisture and holds it instead of wicking it away. What this means is it keeps it close to your skin, and if you’re in a place where the temperature is dropping, this could lower your body temperature faster. When you’re getting ready, make sure that you wear some decent hiking boots, something that supports your ankles. Growing up, I protested this rule with a great deal of fervor. As I’ve wizened, hiking boots and moleskin bandages to protect against blisters (and if your boots aren’t broken in, you’ll get them, sure as the sun will rise) have become a staple when I’m doing any sort of hiking. Decent socks will help, too. This isn’t a fashion statement (another point I struggled with growing up), get items of clothing that will work and keep you warm and out of pain. And remember, your feet will swell about half a size by the afternoon, so don’t buy boots too small.

This is fairly obvious, but I want to mention it anyway. Make sure you have plenty of water. I can’t stress that enough. If you’re lost in the woods and you drink straight from a stream without heating or treating the water, you could get really sick. So, it might be good to pack some water purification tablets.

Here are a few things you should keep in your pack when you’re going on a day-hike:
• water
• first aid kit
• whistle
• flashlight and extra batteries
• glowstick
• energy food
• poncho
• aluminum foil

I know you’re wondering about the aluminum foil, let me give you some info on that, because it came as a surprise to me as well. Not only can you use it for reflective material if you’re lost (used in conjunction with your flashlight to help signal rescuers). Also, you can shape it to use as a bowl for water. It can be very useful! Another fantastic suggestion was to throw an old CD in your backpack. They don’t really weigh anything, and don’t take up any real room, but they make great reflectors if you need to signal for help!

Just a few more random tips to help you with your safe trip. I would also recommend bug spray. If you’re using deet-based spray, make sure to keep it in a separate plastic bag, it has been known to melt nylon. Make sure that if you’re carrying a water supply in something like a Camel Back that has a bladder or are carrying extra bladders, that you don’t put too much pressure on them. Too much pressure might cause them to become leaky. Another good tool to have with you is a Leatherman, they can be very handy. Watch the weather! I can’t stress that enough. If you’re going to be hiking checking the weather report is a must. You don’t want to be trapped on the mountain when there’s a thunderstorm. Sunscreen wouldn’t go amiss. Even if it’s overcast you can get a burn.

One more trick, something that I learned on backpacker.com, is how to tell how much sunlight you have left. If you’re in a position to see the sun and the horizon, count how many fingers fit between the bottom of the sun and the horizon. Each finger represents roughly 15 minutes.

If you’re looking for some amazing hikes, stop in to our Visitor’s Center when you get to our area and ask for our Hiking Guide. It’s got directions to just a few of the hikes that this area has to offer. Be smart and be safe! And, as ever, dear reader, I invite you to come visit our area for yourself, and try something of these amazing hikes.

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Maine Birding Trail Part 2

Hello again, dear reader! Last week I took you on a journey along the Maine Birding Trail. We only covered a portion of the trail because the Moosehead Lake Region is so vast. We left off on the west side of the lake. Today, we look at the east side and explore some of the areas and species that it has to offer. Put on your best wide-brimmed hat and let’s get started!

 

Our first stop takes us to Gulf Hagas, a beautiful hiking area about nine miles to the east of Moosehead Lake. There is a checkpoint, Hedgehog Checkpoint, that charges $10 per person for non-residents, and $6 for residents. Not only is the birding beautiful in this area, with many of the species discussed in the previous post, but Gulf Hagas is a National Natural Landmark.

Our next stop is Scammon Ridge, a ridge that rises about Wilson Pond. The suggested road to take is Mountain View Lane, and the species you may encounter are mostly warblers, blackburnian, northern parula, black-throated green, and black-throated blue. You’ll also find Swainson’s thrushes and ovenbirds. If you keep driving, you might find some beaver flowages as well. 

Lily Bay State Park is next on our list. With beautiful trails, camping sites, and beaches, Lily Bay State Park is a wonderful place for family fun and some bird watching on the lake. The species you’ll find here are the same mentioned above, a variety of warblers, vireos, and thrushes. There are fees to get into the park $3 for adult Maine resident and $4.50 for adult non-Maine resident.

Elephant Mountain is a great place for birdwatching and day hiking. There are areas around the mountain that have been logged and the regrowth with mixed hardwoods, spruce, and pine. In these regrowths you might find, as ever, warblers! Some American redstarts, magnolia, chestnut-sided, and Nashville species. And, if you catch them during migration, you might see Tennessee warblers. Another quick stop you can make here is the B-52 crash site, which was covered in a previous blog.

Further up the lake, before you reach Kokadjo, the Frenchtown Road will take deep, well, deeper into the woods along First Roach Pond. Here you might see different species of warblers, the common yellowthroats, American redstarts, black-throated blue, magnolia, and chestnut-sided. This road will bring you to the Number Four Mountain trailhead off Meadowbrook Lane, which is a wonderful hike.

If you continue up to Kokadjo, a very small community with a population of “not many” you might catch sight of some different species of swallow, the barn, tree, and cliff swallows are common here. On the water of the pond, you might also catch sight of some common loons and mallards.

Beyond Kokadjo, which I know doesn’t seem possible, you’ll find Lazy Tom Stream, a wonderful spot to find northern harriers, warblers, grosbeaks and maybe some white winged crossbills. Just a ways beyond you’ll find Big Spencer Mountain, another fabulous hike and an opportunity to see Bicknell’s thrush.

The last leg of the trip is a doozy. The Golden road is a well used log road that is above Moosehead Lake, and that brings you around Seboomook Lake. Be careful on this road, as mentioned earlier, it is a logging road, meaning there will be big trucks, so give them the right of way. This road will connect you to either side of Moosehead Lake. Gas stations are few and far between this far north, so make sure you’re prepared for that. Along this road you may see spruce grouse, chickadee, gray jay, Cape May warbler, yellow-bellied flycatcher, and the black-backed woodpecker. In the clear cuts you mays see some mourning warblers or Lincoln’s sparrows.

These two blogs have discussed over forty birds that are found in the Moosehead Lake Region! Our region is truly a diverse place! Keep a look out for these amazing species of birds on your travels. As ever, dear reader, I invite you to come visit our region and give birding a try for yourself.

Skye Hinkley

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Maine Birding Trail

Maine Birding Trail

Hello again, dear reader! I’ve lived in the Moosehead Lake Region since I was six years old and it seems I learn something new about the region every day. One thing I just learned I felt wold benefit visitors to our area, especially the bird enthusiasts among us. The Moosehead Lake Region is the site of the Maine Birding Trail. With twenty-two stops, starting in Dover-Foxcroft and ending on the Golden Road, the vast array of birds that you can see is staggering! I’m going to cover the first half of the trail this week. So, dear reader, let’s break out the binoculars and get looking!

The beauty of the Moosehead Lake Region is a fantastic place for a bird watching trip. Starting at the beginning of the trail with Peaks-Kenny State Park in Dover-Foxcroft, you can see birds like common loons and a variety of warblers. Continuing through Abbot, and taking you onto some quiet backroads, you can see warblers, bobolinks, eastern meadowlarks, bank and barn swallows, ducks, and brown thrushes if you’re paying close attention.

Continuing on up through Monson, there are two areas that you can you check out. One is on the Blanchard Road, with a few beaver flows and a boat launch, at these sites you have the opportunity to to see some northern waterthrush, common warblers, hooded merganser, olive-sided flycatchers, wood ducks, and spotted sandpipers.

The other stop in the Monson area is at Borestone Mountain, which is an Audubon Sanctuary. Here you can hike to the top of Borestone Mountain which gives some breathtaking views, but also gives you a chance to see warblers, such as the black-throated green, the black-throated blue, black burnian, magnolia, northern parula, black, and white. Also, you’ll see some barn swallows, red-eyed vieros, and if you’re patient, some scarlet tanagers. The amount of different birds in this area is quite astonishing. Not only will you see the previous birds, but you also see northern parula, blue-headed vireos, golden-crowned kinglets, winter wrens, hermit thrushes, chickadees, nuthatches, woodpeckers, and the list goes on. And honestly it does go on. This is a perfect place for a day trip of hiking and birdwatching. No dogs, though!

The trail continues on through Shirley, taking you to Shirley Bog. Once you hit Shirley, the going gets a little rough as only the first mile of the road is paved. Around here you’ll see American bitterns, as well as Canadian geese, mergansers, black ducks, blue-winged teal, gray jays, and as ever, a variety of warblers.

Continuing on, the trail follows the old B&A Railroad bed. As with before, I will warn you that the going is rough on these back, dirt roads. This will eventually lead you to Grenville Junction. But, along the way, you’ll see boreal chickadees, olive-sided flycatchers, gray jays, spruce grouse, and black-backed woodpeckers.

When you get into Greenville Junction, you follow the road up to Big Moose Mountain, the next stop on the Maine Birding Trail. This stop you’ll see most of the birds that you have already experienced, but if you’re patient and your timing is right (usually around dusk or dawn) you have the chance to see Bicknell’s Thrush near the summit of the mountain.

Next on our tour is East Outlet, which is ten miles from the Junction. Immediately after the bridge, there is a small parking lot and a dirt road, which is excellent for a warbler walk. The species of warbler that you could see are many canopy warblers, such as blackburnian, pine, norther parula, bay-breasted, black-throated green, and the black-throated blue. You’ll also see some sparrow, boreal chickadees, and flycatchers. West Outlet, which is further up the main road, you’ll find Somerset Road which will also allow you to find these species of bird as well.

You can continue traveling up the west side of Moosehead Lake to Rockwood and beyond and see many of the previously mentioned species. Just a forewarning, if you plan on going any further than Rockwood, know that it’s your last place to gas up and use an actual bathroom for quite a while. This post has been about birding, but remember on these amazing backroads, that birds are not the only wildlife that you will see. As ever, dear reader, I invite you to come visit our Moosehead Lake Region and see this vast multitude of bird and other wildlife species that we have to offer for yourself!

Skye Hinkley

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Camping Safety and Tips

Hello again, dear reader! Summer is almost upon us, and we all can’t wait to get outside and enjoy the summer sunshine! (Although, we could do without the bugs.) I don’t know about you, but camping is one of the highlights of my summer! In the Moosehead Lake Region, there are so many different places that you can camp, some are campgrounds and some are backcountry campsites that are first come, first serve. Others require campfire permits. My goal is to just give you a few tips and rules to camping in our phenomenal Moosehead Lake Region.

First, let’s go over the rules when using Public Reserved Lands.

1. Kindle fires ONLY in authorized campsites; cut no live vegetation.
2. Carry out all trash.
3. Keep pets on a leach at campsites and under control at all times.
4. Do not discharge firearms within 300 feet of campsites, marked hiking trails, or boat launches. Loaded firearms are not permitted at campsites or on hiking rails.
5. Ride ATVs only on roads and trails posted as open.
6. Do no use chainsaws, generators, etc. around campsites.
7. The limit of your stay is up to 14 days in a 45 day period.
8. Do no leave personal property unattended for more than 3 days (without written permission from the bureau) or the bureau may take custody of it.

Other than these rules above, there are a few ways that you can reduce your impact on the Maine Woods and keep yourself safe at the same time.

1. Buy your food in bulk and pack it in reusable containers and resealable plastic bags.
2. Choose Reusables, especially silverware, dishes, and flashlights.
3. Avoid disposables, especially lighters, fuel cylinders, and solid fuel cans.
4. Use refillable, liquid-fuel stoves/lanterns.
5. If you build fires, where allowed, use only down and dead wood, or bring your own.
6. Burn only paper waste, not foil, plastic, styrofoam, or food.
7. Avoid trenching or disturbing the ground.
8. Wash with phosphate-free soap/detergent in a basin; dump waste water in the toilet pit or in a small pit 100 feet from water.
9. Seal food waste in a bag and hang it high and away from animals and camp.
10. Carry out all trash; please recycle.
11. Stay on trails in sensitive areas, such as alpine, coastal, and wetland areas.

All of these rules and guidelines are in a place for a reason. We have to leave the woods the way that we found it so that the people after us can enjoy it as much as we did. Obviously, the woods don’t look at they did when Thoreau and his guide went through the Moosehead Lake Region for the first time. But, we’d like to keep our Maine Woods clean and reusable. There is nothing more amazing than waking up with the sun and climbing into a kayak and paddling into the early morning calm. The rules and guidelines are to let everyone enjoy this phenomenal landscape that we have been given.

Safety is key when you’re camping, and there are certain things to keep in mind. Be safe! Remember to pack first aid kits, bug spray, sunscreen, maps, flashlights, matches, and water purification tablets (which are useful if you don’t have access to a fire to boil the water first). Make sure to make camp before dark. Be aware of the weather, especially if you’re going to be on the water. Moosehead Lake and the surrounding bodies of water definitely aren’t the ocean, but when a storm comes up quick, the water can get dangerous. Make sure you pack layers, especially if you’re hiking during the day, you never know what the temperature will be when you get above the timberline on some of these mountain hikes. Be careful when you drink. We all like to spend time with our friends and family and have a couple of beers, just be smart. If you’re far out into the woods, you could be a long ways away from emergency services.

Camping in the summers is one of my fondest memories growing up, whether I was with my friends or my family, I had the best times of my life sleeping in tents and eating food over a campfire. Watching the sun go down over the water, or over the mountains while sitting in a camp chair, with no cell phones, no TV, no traffic is one of the most amazing feelings. I can’t accurately describe the feeling, so as ever dear reader, I invite you to come to the Moosehead Lake Region and experience this for yourself. No matter what you’re doing, pack smart and stay safe. Camping is a lot of fun when you do it right and remember to leave your campsite as you found it for the people after you.

Skye Hinkley

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B-52 Crash Site

Courtesy of Wikipedia

Courtesy of Wikipedia

Hello again, dear reader! This blog post is to bring you the history of one of the more popular destinations for day hikers in the Moosehead Lake Region; the B-52 Crash Site. To get there, you travel seven miles from the center of Greenville, up the Lily Bay Road. Turn right onto the Prong Pond Rd and travel for another 3.7 miles and take the left fork and travel for another 2.1 miles and cross a wooden bridge, .1 miles after that, hang another left and travel for another couple of miles, and you’l reach the trailhead. You can still visit what is left of the fuselage of the crash.

Now, for some history on the crash. In 1963, a B-52 with nine crew members was flying a training session called Terrain Avoidance Flight. At about 500 feet above the ground at about 280 knots, the B-52 encountered some turbulence. The pilot tried to climb above it, but when they were beginning their climb, a turbulence-induced structural fracture caused the plane to lose the vertical stabilizer, causing the plane to turn forty degrees, and begin to dive. The pilot told everyone to eject, but there was a problem with that.

On B-52s the upper deck crew will eject up and out of the plane, while the crew on the lower deck eject downwards and out. At that low of an altitude, it was impossible for the crew on the lower deck to eject out. Not only that, the space crew members didn’t even have ejector seats, they had to grab parachutes and jump out of a hatch.

The B-52 slammed into the side of Elephant Mountain, killing six of the nine members of the crew on impact. Three were able to eject out of the plane before the crash, one, Major Morrison, was killed when he hit a tree after ejection. Lt Col Joe Simpson Jr, Maj William Gabriel, Maj Robert Hill, Capt Herbert Hansen, Capt Charles Leuchter, and Tsgt Michael O’Keefe passed when the plane hit the mountain. Lt Col Dante Bulli, the pilot, and Catp Gerald Adler, the navigator, were the two survivors. Bulli broke his ankle 30 ft up in a tree and survived the night by shoving his sleeping bag from his survival kit into the snow. Adler wasn’t as lucky and hit the snow hard, fracturing 3 ribs and his skull. His ejection seat was bent upon impact and he couldn’t access his survival kit and only survived the night by wrapping himself in his parachute. Unfortunately, he got severe frost bite on his feet, and eventually had to have one of his legs amputated.

The story goes that a road grader on a road in the area saw the plane take its last turn, and the cloud from the crash. Scott Paper Company sent in a fleet of plow trucks to battle the fifteen foot snowdrifts that blocked the rescuers from the survivors. They were able to get them within a mile and a half of Bulli and Adler. Eighty people, from Maine Inland Fish and Wildlife, the Maine State Police, the Civil Air Patrol, the Air Force, and volunteers for MA and NH all helped rescue these two men. By the next day, they were pulled out of the woods. Bulli spent three months in the hospital before he returned to active duty. Adler, was not as lucky. He was unconscious for five days, developed double pneumonia, and spent much of the next year hospitalized.

There was a 30 year anniversary held by the Moosehead Riders Snowmobile club where Adler returned to the crash site for the first time since he was rescued.

It’s humbling and eye opening to see the wreckage. It shows how fleeting life can be when you realize that this flight was really just a training exercise and that seven men lost their lives. As ever, dear reader, I invite you to come visit the Moosehead Lake Region, see this bit of history for yourself.

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A Little History on Mount Kineo

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Mt_Kineo.jpg

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Mt_Kineo.jpg

There are several interesting sights around the Moosehead Lake Region, dear reader, and Mount Kineo is one of them. In a previous blog post, we’ve talked about the Kineo House, a palatial hotel that burnt down three separate times since its original construction date in 1844. But there is more to Mount Kineo than just the Kineo House. Below is some history of the mountain, and some of the legends that go along with it.

The whole mountain formation was created when the Laurentide ice sheet covered all of Canada and a good portion of North America. Ten thousand years ago, with the receding of the glacier, what was left behind was a 700-foot cliff face composed of rhyolite. I don’t know how much you know about archaeology, dear reader, but that rhyolite was particularly famous all up and down the Eastern Seaboard. The Red Paint People settled there and traded Kineo Flint.

There have been several different names for the lake, other than Moosehead Lake. Ch’sebem was the Native American name, and the surveyors called it Great Lake. The mountain itself, according to legend, was named after a harsh Native American chieftan, who was removed from his tribe because of his cruelty and was made to live out the rest of his life, and his afterlife, on the peak of the mountain.

The 1150 acre peninsula was said to have been purchased for thirty-five cents an acre, but after the last Kineo House was demolished/burnt down, it was sold back to the State of Maine.

There are several legends that are associated with Kineo. In 1870, Teddy Roosevelt stayed at the Kineo House when he was young, and the story goes that he actually lost a fight against some young men from Greenville. Also, a Polish princess stayed there in 1917 and received a Dear John letter from her lover in Russia, and so overcome by grief walked to the edge and threw herself over.

Also, the island boasts a nine hole golf course that was built in the 1880s and is thought to be the second oldest golf course in all of New England. Not only is there the golf course for activities on the peninsula, but there are some hiking trails that let you access the peak of the mountain. There are four trails that you can choose from to get to the top, the Indian Trail, the Bridle Trail, the North Trail, or the Carriage Trail. There is a ferry that will bring you across from Rockwood and runs on a regular schedule. If you have a boat you can take a beautiful ride up the lake for yourself. There’s a wonderful beach,one that I have frequented many times, called Pebble Beach, that is perfect on a sunny, summer day.

As ever, dear reader, I invite you to come to the Moosehead Lake Region, and experience the beauty of Kineo for yourself!

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Lost Trains of the North

Lost Trains courtesy of Rick Lavigne

Hello again, dear reader. With this post, I’m bringing you a little history of our region. One of the more popular snowmobile destinations is a place where you can find the Lost Trains of the North. I was asked a question about this site, and I didn’t know very much, even though I grew up in this area. So, I decided that a little research was in order. I’d like to share this information with you!

As if the universe was speaking to me, as soon as I began research on this topic I found that the father of my best friend is basically an expert on the Lost Trains of the North. He just had an article published by the Bangor Daily News about this specific topic. To supplement my research, I used his article.

In 1926, a man named Edouard “King” Lacroix built a 13 mile long railroad. The reason for a short railroad in the middle of the woods was that there was plenty of pulp in the area, but it was needed south and Churchill and Eagle Lakes flow north. The first successful use of the railroad was June 1, 1927. Two locomotives, both 100 tons, were used for hauling the trains on the railroad. One was constructed in 1901, and the other in 1897.

Over the course of a week, the trains carried 6500 cords of wood. According to the article, this comprised almost 20% of the nation’s paper to be made by Great Northern Paper. By the time that the railroad ceased operations because of the Great Depression, the trains had hauled over 1 million cords of wood.

After the railroad shutdown, they were moved and parked in a shed. That shed burnt down in 1966, leaving the engines exposed to the elements since that time. In 1996, there was a project undertaken to help right one of the locomotives that had been tipping. This project involved hauling 5,200 five-gallon buckets of stone by snowmobile and took three years to complete.

The trains are only reachable by hiking or by water in the summer. But in the winter, you can get there fairly easily by snowmobile. Roundtrip from Greenville is about 162 miles, and 144 from Millinocket. These are definitely full day trips, and you would be traveling deep into the woods. If you’re traveling in the winter, you’re going to need to dress and travel smartly.

As ever, dear reader, I invite you to come visit our area and see what it has to offer. I promise, you won’t be disappointed.

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