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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Good Campfire Food

Recently, dear reader, you read a blog I wrote about the Schwedenfackel. And, as promised, this blog is about good food over a campfire. With my blogs, I try to show you what it’s like to live here in the Moosehead Lake Region. I grew up here, and this was always something to look forward to, no matter if you were camping in a tent, or just a camp and having a campfire. This is tradition, and as ever, I invite you to come on up and try it for yourself and create your own traditions.

My repertoire for food over a campfire is limited mostly to hotdogs and s’mores. Don’t get me wrong, those are amazing and a must have! If you’re camping and don’t have at least one meal of hotdogs over the fire, you are definitely missing out. But, to expand my scope, I did a survey on my Facebook and ask all my friends and neighbors what’s good over a campfire. This was the response.

One response I received from a friend was a new take on the hotdog on a cooking fork idea. Take a nice thick piece of bacon and wrap it around the hotdog and cook it over the fire. Another idea for just bacon is to take a piece of bacon and fold it like an accordion, then stick it on a campfire fork and cook it like that over the fire. We all know that bacon is amazing, anything can be improved by bacon.

Another response that I got was any breakfast food is good over a campfire. This is one where you can get creative, you just need a skillet. Personally, I only cook in cast iron skillets. (It’s what I grew up using, and when my father would eventually crack one, we’d hang it on a tree and use it as for BB gun practice.) Get a good bed of coals going and settle the skillet in and let your imagination run wild. Crack some eggs, and throw in some bacon and cheese. Breakfast food is fantastic, no matter what time of day you’re eating it, and, as another one of my friends said, everything is better over a campfire.

One friend suggested brook trout over the campfire. If you’re camping in Maine, fishing isn’t too far out of the realm of possibility for you. (As long as you have a fishing license, or are under the age of twelve.) Another suggestion was red potatoes cut up in some tinfoil (many layers was the advice I received) with butter, onions, and some Lawry seasoning salt. Simple, but oh so yummy!

One suggestion I had never heard of, but sounds so amazing! Campfire pies. This requires a bit of a specialty tool, but once you have it, you could use it for so many different things! The tool is a cast iron square pie iron, which can be found on Amazon for $20. Ingredients for this are bread, pie filling, butter and whatever you want for toppings. (The suggestions were cinnamon or powdered sugar.) Essentially, you butter the bread, put the filling in, dump it into the pie iron, and stick it on your campfire!

As I always do, I invite you to come to the Moosehead Lake Region and try some of these recipes for yourself! As I have mentioned before, there is nothing more relaxing after a day on the Lake than lounging next to a campfire eating food cooked over the flames.

Skye Hinkley

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Schwedenfackel

 

fire torch

As someone who grew up in Northern Maine, I have enjoyed thousands of campfires. Every night, around the time the sun started going down, Dad would head out back and start a campfire. We’d sit around talking and eating until it was time for bed. At camp, we’d have a campfire down at the water’s edge and make s’mores. Everyone once in a while we’d get daring and jump into the lake and go for a midnight swim, the water is always warmer at night. The point I’m trying to make is that I’ve sat around countless campfires, and started a few of them myself, but last year I learned how about a new type of campfire. This is called the Swedish Fire Torch.

The story goes that the Schwedenfackel, which literally translates into “Swedish fire torch,” was created by a hobo who was waiting for his next train and needed to keep warm for the next few hours and only had one log. The Swedish Fire Torch is an efficient way to have a campfire because it uses only ONE log and can last up to four hours depending on the size of you piece of wood. Outrageous, right? Let me give you a quick rundown of how you can do this yourself.

You’ll need a unsplit piece of wood, preferably one that is even on both the top and the bottom. The easiest way is use a chainsaw and split the wood 2/3 of the way down in a cross shape. (Basically, it should look like a pizza from the top.) Stand the log upright, with the cut part of the log facing up. Once that’s completed, you use bits of paper and small pieces of kindling to start a fire on the top of the log. Once you’ve got the fire started, the lit pieces of kindling will fall into the log, get caught on the bottom of your incision, if you will, and catch the inside of the log on fire. The cuts in the side will allow oxygen to flow freely in and around the fire, keeping it lit. The picture above is my own attempt, and as you can see, I got a little chainsaw happy. You should really only use two cuts that are decent sized in width.

There is another option as well if you don’t have a chainsaw on hand. You can take your unsplit piece of wood, grab your axe and split it. Once you have your pieces of wood, stand them up in a circle, leaving small gaps for some kindling. Take the kindling and criss-cross it through the gaps. Then, as above, start your fire on top with paper and small bits of kindling and let it rip!

The beauty of the Swedish Fire Torch is that once you have the inside of the log burning, it should burn for a few hours. Above, when I recommended that you keep both sides of the log even, is because once you have a decent fire burning, you can use it as a cooking surface. Grab you skillet and get creative!

So, dear reader, come to the Moosehead Lake Region and enjoy some campfires! There’s nothing more relaxing.

Stay tuned for some great campfire recipes!

Skye Hinkley

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Moose

mooseThis is the Moosehead Lake Region, we’re pretty famous for our moose. We have a stretch of road that has one of the highest moose accident rates in the country. I mean, our lake is named after moose, some of our mountains are named after the animal. Moose, moose, moose! But, how much do you actually know about moose? Previously I mentioned Moosin’ in another blog, let’s delve into the slightly mysterious world of the moose together and see what you’re looking for.

They are the largest of the deer species. And, no dear reader, that does not mean they start out as deer and become moose. (Believe it or not, I’ve had someone ask me that question.) The male can reach up to six feet at shoulder height and can weigh between 800 and 1300 pounds! Even the females can weigh between 700 and 800 pounds.

Both males and females have a long flap of skin that hangs from their throat, which is known as a bell. There are several theories as to what this is for, but there are no consensus. Some think it might help water drain off the chin when they’re drinking, other’s think that since it is more developed in males than females that, like the antlers, it might help females identify the fitness of the male as a mate.

Moose are herbivores and tend to graze off of high grasses and and shrubbery because it’s problematic for them to dip their heads all the way down. They can eat up to 65+ pounds of vegetation a day and in the winter, they stick to the shrubs, but will also eat pinecones and even scrape the snow off the ground with their hooves to get to moss and lichen. In fact, the term moose comes from an Algonquin word that means “twig-eater”, a fact dear reader, to which I was completely unaware!

In the summer, when all of the ice is gone, you’ll often see moose in the rivers and lakes in the area. They really enjoy water. I’ve had one swim by me when I was swimming in the lake! They can paddle for miles and will even submerge for thirty or so seconds. There’s been debate that they can even dive down underneath the water. But, very few people have actually swum with a moose before so no one can say for sure.

They’re in their element on land, however. They can run up to thirty-five miles an hour over short distances, and can keep up a steady pace of twenty miles an hour over longer distances. It’s amazing to watch them run! Sometimes, when you get behind one on the road, they’ll run in front of your car forever, it seems, before they find a place to get off the road.

The males, or bulls, bellow loudly when trying to attract a mate during mating season, which usually takes place in early fall. They also use their antlers as threat displays when they’re fighting for the affections of a female. When mating season is over, that’s when they lose their antlers, or shed them. The females have their calves during spring or summer, and the calves will stay with them until the next calves are born.

The moose has fantastic hearing and sense of smell, but has poor eyesight. Once, my father was standing in our driveway and a moose walked in front of him. He could have put his hand out and pet his head if he’d been so inclined. But, because he was downwind and it was dark, the moose didn’t even notice him.

There, the world of the moose is a little less mysterious! And, as ever, dear reader, I invite you to our area to come and see for yourself the beauty and majesty of the moose. I promise that you will not be disappointed.

Skye Hinkley

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Moosin’

I moved to the Moosehead Lake Region when I was only six. However, my family has had a camp in the area since well before I was born. There are a few traditions that have stuck around for decades in which both my grandparents and great grandparents all participated, but the focus of this post is a single one; Moosin’.

Moosin’ is a group of people driving around looking for moose or other wildlife. See, it’s pretty straight forward. Basically, you all pile into a car or truck around dusk, because moose and deer are crepuscular, (what that means, dear reader, is that they are most active around dusk and dawn. Diurnal creatures are active during the day, and nocturnal creatures are active during the night. Just a tidbit for you!), and you drive up the lake, whichever side of the lake you find yourself on, and find dirt roads. On these dirt roads, away from the “busy” ones, you’ll be much more likely to see a moose. Then, you just keep your eyes peeled.

Being from the area now, I don’t need to go Moosin’. I see them all the time, and more often than not, they cause “traffic jams” when I’m late for work. But, when I was a kid, going Moosin’ was something that we all looked forward to after a long day swimming or on the boat. A lot of times, we’d be too loud to see a moose. But, that feeling of packing up a bag of snacks, all of us climbing into the back of someone’s car or truck, and driving for about an hour was phenomenal.

If we did see any wildlife, we kept a running tally. Then, when we went out the next night, we’d try to outdo ourselves. Amongst the kids we’d always have competitions, who saw what, who saw the most animals, things like that. My grandmother and my great aunt always had a camera at the ready. I honestly can’t tell you how many pictures of wildlife that my grandmother has.

The beauty of having a camp in Lily Bay was that sometimes you didn’t even have to leave the yard to go Moosin’. One memorable occasion was when we were swimming in the bay and a moose literally swam right by! There were many instances where there’d be moose in the small bog that was right in front of the camp. My father has been standing outside, downwind of any animal, and had a few walk right in front of him, close enough he could pet them if he so wished.

So, here are a couple of tips for finding your own moose:

1. There are a quite a few businesses right here in the area that will take you out and help you find one. This helps take the guesswork out of it for you. If you’re a visitor, you don’t know the roads and good spots like some of us natives do, this might be easier and more comfortable for you.
2. If you want to find your own, go out around dusk or dawn. Leave a little early so you’re arriving up in the woods around that time.
3. Find an unpopulated area. Which, if you drive out of Greenville for about five minutes in any direction, you’ve found yourself one!
4. Be quiet.
5. Stay in the car. While it may seem that the moose or whatever animal you’re viewing is docile, you never want to tempt mother nature.
6. Pack some snacks and water. Sometimes you’re out looking for awhile and you’re a good distance from anywhere with food.
7. Go to the bathroom before you leave.
8. Bug spray is always a must.

As with many of my other posts, I want to show you what it’s like living in the Moosehead Lake Region, to show you some of the traditions we have and our way of life. Living here is a joy and I wish to share it with everyone. And, as ever, I invite you to come join us, we’d love to not only show our traditions to you, but include you so that you may start your own!

Skye Hinkley

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