adventures in the north woods

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…….

i didn’t do as good as a job of documenting our trip to Maine as i hoped i would, but above are some shots from the four days we spent camping, hiking, and canoeing in Baxter State Park in Maine’s great north woods. i had previously only visited Baxter once when i was a freshman in college, and it was just a day trip to hike the summit of the iconic Mt. Katahdin, Maine’s highest peak at 5,269 ft. And by “just a day trip” i mean that hike was the most intense hike of my life and the first mountain i ever climbed. hiking Katahdin is somewhat of a pilgrimage for certain circles of Mainers, particularly those that went to the University of Maine. it’s a spectacular peak not to be underestimated by anyone who prefers the greater stature of western peaks, or even by the folks that prefer to hike the more popular and slightly higher Mt. Washington in New Hampshire. 9 years later, i found myself planning a return to Katahdin and the surrounding park. this time i brought more experience with me, and the excitement of introducing the north woods to my Michigan man. :)

we began our adventure at Trout Brook Farm campground way up on the northern tip of the park. interestingly, Baxter State Park isn’t a part of Maine’s State Park system, it’s run by its own authority in order to preserve the character of the landscape as “forever wild.” the northern part of the park feels especially that way as it is far less visited than the southern region near Katahdin. we had a brief one night base camp set up at the quiet campground, indulged in good food and good beverages, and set off early the next morning to canoe six miles to “Pine Point”, a remote campsite on Grand Matagamon Lake. we saw bald eagles, herons, and king fishers as we paddled (and struggled) into the wind to our campsite. ah, but once there we truly relaxed by a warm fire that we tended all afternoon and evening. i should also let you know that i’m kind of obsessed with HoneyMaker Mead, made in Portland, ME, and particularly their Ram Island iced tea mead. SO DELICIOUS. anyway. canoeing + campfire + mead + sunshine on a gorgeous isolated lake = favorite day of the trip. our canoe trip back was a little more arduous for the next morning as it was significantly colder, still windy, and raining. hence no photos of that experience! we were nearly frozen and very wet when we made it back to Trout Brook. thankfully we hopped in the car, blasted the heat, and drove down to our lean-to at Katahdin Stream.

For our Katahdin ascent we took the Hunt Trail, which is also the last 5 miles of the Appalachian Trail. It was absolutely a perfect day to hike the mountain. The morning air was cold and crisp, and the previous day’s rain had broken into clear skies and far-reaching views. The wind whipped us above treeline as we scrambled over the endless piles of granite rocks and boulders. it’s a long, arduous hike, but with a tremendous reward at the summit. i looked over at the Knife Edge and shuddered at the thought of ever attempting that path. there was a group of AT thru hikers at the summit celebrating their hard-earned many-month journey to Maine with toasts of beer and Moxie. we celebrated our brief journey with a chocolate bar. :) the retreat down the mountain was nearly as difficult and probably more mentally challenging the the ascent. fatigued and trying not to stumble into an injury, we eventually made it back to camp. the next day, we said goodbye to the mountain and continued with our Maine adventure, chilling out in Bar Harbor, biking 19 miles on the carriage roads in Acadia, visiting my brother and nieces in Blue Hill, exploring Common Ground in Unity, and enjoying the comforts of staying with my sister in Portland. I don’t have photos of the second half of our adventure, just Baxter and Katahdin. i was very glad to experience more of the north woods than i ever had before. its part of my home and where i’m from, it’s a place i’d like to get to know. i feel like i’m still introducing myself.

Man is born to die,

His works are short-lived.

Buildings crumble,

Monuments decay,

Wealth vanishes.

But Katahdin in all its glory,

Forever shall remain

The Mountain

Of

The People of Maine.

One Comment

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  1. Emily, you write very well and your photographs are impeccable. Your prose really gave me the sense of being on the mountain trail. You should write guidebooks!
    –Uncle Jon

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