Baxter State Park, Acadia, and Bar Harbor ME July 7-12, 2013

2:48 p.m. on July 16, 2013 (EDT)
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Some friends and I who have done trips in the past decided to load up and head to Baxter State Park in Maine for a little excursion into the back country as well as a few days to see Maine itself since living in the midwest makes it difficult to get up to the NE corner of our country very often. We brought along a couple of friends who wanted to try the backcountry experience for the first time taking our party to 5 people.

We arrived Sunday afternoon and drove into Baxter, checked in and headed to Roaring Brook campground for our first night and to park our vehicles.


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We set up camp, got gear prepped, ate, then did a quick hike to sandy stream pond.


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We had rain over night, but not heavy, and rain was forcast everyday of the trip. We awoke to partly cloudy skies and the tents had at least dried out slightly before packing up and we began our hike to Wassataquoik lean-to's, about a 5 mile hike, via Russell Pond trail to Wassataquoik Stream trail.


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This park was intended to be primitive, which is what attracted us to Baxter in the first place. Trail conditions are definately primitive, very little maintenance is done and vast lengths of rock gardens, roots, and in places small streams actually flow down the trail. Stream crossings are via wading or rock hopping and some are very challenging. On our first stream crossing about a 1/2 mile in, one of the first timers slipped on a rock and came down on his knee cap. Someone luckily grabbed onto his pack to break a little of his fall, and avoided serious injury other than some scrapes to his leg and some minor swelling. As we continued on he became really fatigued. We were concerned going in of his fitness level and it was beginning to show as we slowed our pace to allow him some rest and recovery time. Along the route we saw a bull moose across the river.
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While taking pictures of him, someone noticed another bull moose standing about 25 feet behind us. Luckily it wasn't rutting season and both seemed to not mind us walking by.


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 The biggest problem with the slow pace and waiting was the attack of the black flies which were fierce. We rolled into Wass stream lean-to's set up our tents inside them for shelter from the bugs at night and got to take a nice dip in the river to rejuvanate.
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The views from the lean-to's were fantastic! I feel these are greatly under utilized due to the trail that leads to them was greatly overgrown, and the log bridges over marshy areas were broken or in severe disrepair.


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Huh, I believe that is a "trailspace sticker" on that water bottle...lol

We continued on the next day to Russell Pond with a river crossing across the Wassataquoik river. It had been closed the previous week due to all the rain in the NE, but re-opened just before we headed out on our trip.


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The water was about thigh high on the average person and very manageable. The hike to Russell Pond was only 1.8 miles and originally planned as a layover day to prep and rest ourselves for the 9 mile traverse over the NW basin trail, Davis Pond, and Saddle trail the next day. We canoed Russell Pond, a couple guys hiked up to the overlook 2 miles away. I took a little back country nap before canoeing which was really nice, and one of the clowns I was with, felt a photo was due. lol


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While in camp we had a cow moose, come almost into our camp twice. She didn't have any youngster with her and seemed to like getting her picture taken.


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We discussed the weather and terrain with the Russell Pond Ranger that afternoon and determined that with a 50% chance of thunderstorms, an over exhausted hiker we chose to hike back out Russell Pond trail to Roaring Brook instead of risking him to the helicopter basket. While we were disappointed to change the route, it was the best move to make from a safety stand point. The ranger also warned us that with all the spring rain, many rocks are loose and a few people had sustained injury in the past couple of weeks. We also didn't want to get stuck on the plateau if lightning may be a factor.


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We headed out to Roaring Brook early the next morning and split as much gear as possible so that our exhausted comrade could lighten his load a bit. There were two streams we had to wade on the way out and the rest we were able to rock hop.


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We made it into Roaring Brook and got set up just before the rain began.


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We loaded up the next morning and headed to Acadia and Bar Harbor. I won't go into the Acadia and Bar Harbor part of the trip other than leaving you with a shot from the top of Cadillac Mountain, our camp in Acadia and the view from our hotel room the next night in Bar Harbor. Maine is truly a beautiful place all the way around. I would like to thank LoneStranger for his insite into this trip. The information he gave me of Baxter was spot on. It's nice to have a community where others are so helpful. It really helped me to get our group prepared for the trip.


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1:08 p.m. on July 17, 2013 (EDT)
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Cool report Chris, Thanks for sharing!

 

Is that an MSR Skinny?

 

And based on that pile of firewood in the second shot, I'm guessing it wasn't a big hike to the first nights camp?

1:35 p.m. on July 17, 2013 (EDT)
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Patman,

That is my MSR Skinny, been a great solo tent, I have a review of it if interested.

What do you mean, I carried that bundle of wood 15 miles, just so I could have a fire! lol, No the first camp is where you stage/park the vehicles, and firewood is available for a dollar at the ranger cabin.

1:59 p.m. on July 17, 2013 (EDT)
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Thanks for all the great pics in2snow!  I recognize some of those spots and I'm pretty sure I've met that cow moose at Russell Pond a few times.  That really is a pretty rugged route, especially the part you didn't do, though it is actually pretty well traveled compared to some of the other trails in the park.  Glad you got your hurting friend out of there OK. Trying to go up to and down from the tablelands with a bum knee would have been rough.

I'm headed up Sunday to do your intended loop from the other direction so I'll try to post some pics of what you missed ;)

2:29 p.m. on July 17, 2013 (EDT)
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Nice report, in2snow! I love the pictures of the moose! It looks like y'all had a great time. I really want to get to Baxter one day myself and hike up Katahdin! 

2:33 p.m. on July 17, 2013 (EDT)
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Yea, LoneStranger post some pics from up there so I can be more upset that I missed it! lol. It wasn't just his knee, he was unprepared physically for the demanding terrain. The rest of us figured it was a good possiblity, but sometimes it's hard to convince someone until they actually reach the point of total exhaustion. As friends though we wanted to start and finish as a group. I would have been more upset if it was someone jumping in the group we didn't know well and failed since I've had that happen before on another trip. Have a good trip and I definately want to see a trip report.

2:40 p.m. on July 17, 2013 (EDT)
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Thanks Ashleigh,

You should really get up that way, gorgeous country and some challenging terrain, you'll really enjoy it! Make sure you post a report if you do.

6:07 p.m. on July 17, 2013 (EDT)
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I could tell from your report that it was a case of someone in over their head.  Baxter is really not a novice trip unless you car camp on the edges and day hike. The terrain can be rough and as you noticed the trails are quite rustic once you get away from the Katahdin area.

I'm not going to post pics to make you jealous though.  I'll post them to lure you back!

10:06 p.m. on July 17, 2013 (EDT)
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Great TR pics. Looks like you guys had a lot of fun!

2:00 a.m. on July 18, 2013 (EDT)
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Great pictsures.Looks like you had a great time..

10:54 a.m. on July 18, 2013 (EDT)
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As a Mainer - this lovely trip report makes my heart swell.  Great pictures!

11:56 a.m. on July 18, 2013 (EDT)
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@Frank@Denis....Thanks for the comments, it was a great time.

 

@Seth-Last time I checked, heart swelling isn't good! lol, you better get back up there and take a journey! Thanks for the comments.

1:13 p.m. on July 18, 2013 (EDT)
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Great pics in2snow.  Thank you.

1:25 p.m. on July 18, 2013 (EDT)
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I love the Moose Photos, great TR!!

3:29 p.m. on July 18, 2013 (EDT)
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Nice TR.  The shadows in the first moose pic look like the moose is wearing a halter.  It made me wonder what kind of ride that would be. 

8:53 p.m. on July 18, 2013 (EDT)
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@Alpha and @Shyne, thanks for the comments!

@Sage - I'm not sure I like to find out what would happen if I tried to jump on a moose's back! lol

2:58 a.m. on July 19, 2013 (EDT)
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good tr. the moose look like illegal aliens! I'm going to bed now - nite nite!

7:22 a.m. on July 19, 2013 (EDT)
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It's about time Lee...

 

So afer reading again, do the black flies not back off at night?

9:39 a.m. on July 19, 2013 (EDT)
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nice trip report and pics. I still don't get the tents in the shelter though. 

1:32 p.m. on July 19, 2013 (EDT)
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@Patman, the blackflies do back down at night, but the mosquitos take hold after dusk. I debated just using my netting that night (our only night in a lean-to), but it rained the night before and tents were wet, so we used the opportunity to get them up to dry them out as well. The ranger's did say the bugs are usually dying down by July, but with all the rain the NE has gotten this spring they've been fierce.

@Ewker, as above, but also in Baxter they have regulations on where you can and can't have a tent site, when you register your itenerary. This particular site is lean-to's only so we couldn't have set the tents up outside the lean-to's without breaking the area's policies. We originally picked this location due to it's remote location and planned to just leave the tents packed, but due to the bugs and wet gear, we set them up inside.

3:27 p.m. on July 19, 2013 (EDT)
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Oh, the flies must have been a misery, it's the same just north in Atlantic Canada. The old fellows say they haven't seen the like for years. Everybody's talking about it. Are we feeling the loss of bats, I wonder?

But it's such a good time of year to meet moose! The bulls are still a couple of months from having anything to get excited about and all they want to do is eat, sleep, and grow antlers. I had lunch with this guy a couple of weeks ago. The velvet wasn't off his antlers yet.


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The mother cows have mellowed out a bit too now that the babies are bigger. And of course the yearlings, who just left home in spring, are curious, clumsy and adorable. Moose are awesome in July.

It's wonderful that you met them, and that you and your friends will have those memories of this trip!

And Sage, they can go a lot faster than you might think! Some of them have racks big enough to sit in comfortably, just grab the points to steer. :)

3:49 p.m. on July 19, 2013 (EDT)
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in2snow said:

@Ewker, as above, but also in Baxter they have regulations on where you can and can't have a tent site, when you register your itenerary. This particular site is lean-to's only so we couldn't have set the tents up outside the lean-to's without breaking the area's policies. We originally picked this location due to it's remote location and planned to just leave the tents packed, but due to the bugs and wet gear, we set them up inside.

 ok that makes sense. Normally it is a big  no-no to put a tent in a shelter.

3:58 p.m. on July 19, 2013 (EDT)
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@Islandess, I've wondered about the loss of bats even in Indiana. Our old dairy barn use to have thousands that lived in the haymow and in the evening it looked like a black cloud coming out of the windows we left open for them. Now there are very few. To explain the bug problem a little better, here is a shot of my legs after 1 day on the trail. The rest of the trip I left my pants zipped on unless we did a river crossing. Worst I've ever seen.


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7:25 p.m. on July 19, 2013 (EDT)
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in2snow, that looks...awful. Ouch. You have me counting my blessings once again -- I probably shouldn't say it, everyone's entitled to hate me, but I'm immune to biting bugs and don't get 'bites'. Sure have lost a lot of blood and swallowed a lot of flies this year, though. Came home from last week's camp with dead blackflies in my ears. Ick.

Yes, white-nose syndrome. Bad news for the bats. I don't know why it doesn't get more media attention. A month or so ago I heard a biologist in New Brunswick estimate that the bats are 90% gone.

In related news, we've had an explosion in the dragonfly population. There are swarms of them. Go dragonflies! :)

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