Sunday, September 25, 2016

Third Maine Event

Our two coastal visits to Maine prompted us to explore a bit more of the most northeastern state and so this time we have ventured into the interior.  After just over 1100 miles and 18 hours of driving with a stopover in Syracuse,we arrived at our destination in Maine.  We rented a cabin on Sebec Lake which is about in the center of the state.  It's not the biggest lake by far, but it is over 11 miles long and two miles wide at its widest.  We had a great cabin that sits right on the lake with great views from a covered outside deck and an enclosed glassed in room just behind the deck.  Even better, the enclosed area has a big couch and two recliners positioned to look out onto the water.

On our first morning we arose to a fog hanging over the lake and obscuring the hillside across the lake.

But by early afternoon the clouds had burned off and moved away so we drove to Peaks Kenny State Park which is located on the other side of the lake.  On the way we stopped at the local town, Dover-Foxcroft, population just over 4,000, so Max could buy a new hat since she had forgotten to pack one.  The best choice she found was this "woman's" hunting cap.  Note that it was pre-distressed with material worn off the bill and camouflage on all but the front which was light pink (I suppose to indicate its gender aspects).

The afternoon wind had started and there were whitecaps on the water.  We decided on a short easy hike along the water and then up through the forest and around a hill back to the parking area.  It turned out to be more of hike than we anticipated at around 2.5 miles but with lots of hills up and down and the trail was very rocky with lots of tree roots exposed on the trail.  We stopped at one spot along the trail by the lake for some pictures.

That evening back at our cabin we had a nice sunset across the lake.

On our second day we decided to go hiking to a waterfall that is the highest in the state of Maine.  It's called Moxie Falls and descends from a lake into Moxie River.  It was only a one mile hike over an easy trail to the top of the falls where the water first cascaded down a number of small falls.

Next it cascades over a 90 foot drop into a pool at the bottom.  Keep in mind this picture was taken in mid-September after a dry August in Maine.  I understand that in the spring the falling water covers all of the exposed stone in this picture below.

Once back at the cabin in the late afternoon we enjoyed the view from our deck.

And the sunset was interesting with the contrails of the airplanes dissipated while the setting sun turned them red and  reflected on the surface of the lake.

Our next hike took us to another waterfall called Little Wilson Falls, not because it is little, but because it is on Little Wilson Stream.  The hiking book indicated it was an easy 2.6 mile hike on a trail with some rocks and tree roots.  The stream cuts through a black slate gorge and the stream bed is covered with box shaped boulders that reflect the structure of slate.

And as for tree roots, that was an understatement.  The forest was mostly hemlock and mixed deciduous trees including lots of birch.

The trees growing on a bed of slate, caused the roots spread across the surface as they sought pathways into the soil.  Below are some pictures of the rootier part of the trail.

Needless to say, this slowed the hike significantly.  Slate is an interesting stone, originally used for tablets and shingles, and more recently for pathways, decks and even interior floors.  Slate is a sedimentary stone, but it is formed at 90 degrees to the direction of the compression.  Consequently in nature it seems to be standing on its edges.

The fact of the slate standing on edge provided the beauty of Little Wilson Falls.  The stream cascades over the black slate and tumbles 75 feet down into a gorge that is lined with hemlocks and cedars.  The gorge is so deep that getting a picture of the whole falls is almost impossible.

Max sat on the edge of the gorge, but even from this angle above her, the bottom of the gorge is barely visible on the left.

Interestingly, the falls are located on the Appalachian trail and we met a number of through hikers who were on their way to Mt. Katahdin and the trail's north end.  Most of them walked right by the falls without stopping given that they had begun their "hike" on March 15 over 2000 miles away in Georgia and still had another 120 miles to go.  It seemed their focus was toward the end and to get there without delay.

  (I was struck a bit about how focused the hikers became on "the goal" that they didn't even notice this beautiful waterfall not 10 feet from the trail.  I thought how like "life" that is for all of us as we can become so consumed with "accomplishing something", "finishing the job", "reaching the top" that we miss all of the life that is screaming so close all the time.  It made me a bit sad- for them- and for all of us as we "forget" to pay attention as life just races by... Max)

On Wednesday, after 3 days of hiking, it rained and we rested.  Great timing.

Thursday took us north to Baxter State Park, over 200,000 acres of wilderness, only two roads going into the park, one on the west side and one on the east side neither of which are paved and the east side road dead ends after only 7 miles.  There is no electricity, no cell phone towers and no potable water in the park.  It is truly a wilderness.  The focus of the park is Mt. Katahdin, a 5200 foot high mountain at whose peak is the north end of the Appalachian Trail.    As we drove in we got the first view of the mountain.

Keeping to  our program of hiking to waterfalls, we drove up the west road stopping first at Stump Pond (obviously named)

and then  onto the Nesowadnehunk Stream and hiked along the stream to the Big Niagara Falls.  The trail was part of the Appalachian Trail and we met a number of hikers who were on the last day of their hike before setting off to the top of Mt. Katahdin the next day.  The trail went through hemlock and birch forest next to the stream

Hemlocks show their ability to grow almost anywhere as seen by this one example, a tree that probably started from a seed in a depression on the top of this boulder.

The trail also incorporated some Maine sidewalks put in place to protect the forest floor from damage in wet weather.  Max got good use of her walking stick and balance beams technique.

(I had been considering a "walking stick" for hiking on uneven surfaces now that my right knee can be less than cooperative.  I'd tried a "sample" back on a "walk around the block" in our neighborhood but found it just in the way.  And then this "gift" of a stick was leaning against a tree in Maine right when I needed it on our second- and most difficult hike.  And what a difference it make.  I used it the whole trip and we brought it back to Ohio and Don's going to "clean it up a bit" and I now have my "stick"!

The falls are not quite  the same Niagara seen in New York, but the stream and the falls were beautiful.

Next we drove back to the park entrance and then up the east side to the dead end and the trail to Sand Pond so we could get a view of the east  side of Mt. Katahdin.

Our last day of hiking was to the Gulf Hagus, a narrow granite gorge through which flows the West Branch of the Pleasant River.

On the way in we passed by the Katahdin Iron Works.  A stone furnace where they mixed iron ore from a local mountain, lime and charcoal which when ignited and pumped with air created intense heat and made molten iron.  The furnace was active during the last half of the 1800's and when production was high in the 1880's as much as 20 tons of iron was produced per day.  Below are pictures of the furnace, the inside of the chimney from the bottom and the one remaining of the original 16 charcoal ovens.

The two mile hike through the woods was one of the most delightful we had.  It was so quiet that the only sound we could hear was our muffled foot steps on the forest floor.

Just above the gorge we found a beaver dam with a pond.

And then the river fell into the gorge where it flowed over boulders creating waterfalls for the next 3 miles.

Our last evening was very still and provided a hint of the beauty to come in a few weeks on the hillside that was our view the past week.  I expect it will become a blaze of color as fall begins in Maine.

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