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Old 09-15-2010, 09:24 PM   #1
daxs
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Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: South Jersey by the beach
Posts: 273
Western Maine Part I

Iím not much for writing trip reports but I thought Iíd post some tidbits about a trip Jim and I just took to western Maine. We spent several days in the Grafton Notch area. If you are looking for a campground in this area, please look up Maureen at the Grafton Notch campground. Itís a 14 site camp thatís geared towards tent campers. It has large sites with picnic tables and fire rings. There is a nice clean bathhouse with flush toilets and hot showers. No hookups for RVís. Plain and simple. Clean and quiet.

We woke up to rain our first day and the remainder of day was a mixture of sun and clouds with intermittent rain spitting on us. Our first hike was up Old Speck via the AT. We got about 10-15 minutes up the trail when we realized we forgot our lunches in the truck, Jim scooted back down to retrieve our meals and about 20 minutes later we resumed our hike. As 4000 footers goes, this was a pretty easy hike. The trail seemed to be a moderate grade the whole way. The top sports an ďobservation deckĒ. There is a metal ladder that goes straight up to the deck, maybe 30 feet or so. Iíll admit I was a little scared going up and down the ladder. From the deck we had 360 degree views which were somewhat dull due to the clouds. The actual summit was a disappointment. Fire rings, rusty nails, toilet paper, broken glass and assorted trash were strewn across the summit. On the way down, we decided to follow the Eyebrow Trail. Lots of profanity ensued. The trail is a lot of work for not great views. You can look up a slide and look down into the notch were you can see the parking lot and your car. I would not recommend this trail; too much effort for not enough pleasure. This was actually a Views and Brews hike as we stopped at the Shipyard Brew Haus at Sunday River the day before to partake of the microbrew. I do not recommend the alt; it was lacking in depth and seemed a bit flat.

On day 2 we once again woke up to rain except this time the rain was more persistent throughout the day. We spent some more time in the notch visiting Screw Auger Falls, Mother Walker Falls and Moose Cave. Screw Auger was especially impressive with its falls, potholes, and pools. We eventually made our way to Lake Umbagog. We found a great place to camp (for free) so decided not start our paddle until the next day hoping the weather would improve. We did some mountain bike riding down some old logging roads, no moose seen, until the rain really kicked in and sent us back to camp. There we hiked a short trail that ran along the pond which was really very pretty.

Day 3 we decided to kayak despite the once again rainy, cloudy weather. We put in the Magalloway River at the National Wildlife Refuge. Many thanks to the employees there who let us park our vehicle in their lot overnight and discussed the different types of birds we could see on our paddle (ok flush toilets before and after the paddle were really nice too!). The Magalloway River slowly meanders its way to Lake Umbagog. It was a very easy paddle downstream. Along the way we saw a great blue heron fishing along the banks. We also saw sandpipers! I felt like I was back in Cape May. The ranger later told us that sandpipers were common this time of year as they begin the migration from the bay of St. Lawrence back to warmer waters down south. We ended up with a great campsite; #29. We had a sandy beach to land on, picnic table, fire ring, and privy and tent platform. Best of all a firewood bonanza; someone had left a rather nice pile of split, dry firewood at the site. Windy conditions kept up in camp during early afternoon but the winds died down and we explored the northern end of the lake. We were treated to a fly by; a bald eagle. He was none too happy about us being in his area and was very vocal. Truly an awesome site. I was too mesmerized to get a photo. The next morning we were treated to a swim by; a pair of loons. We were sitting in the yaks just watching when they dove and popped up right in front if us. I mean right at the end of our yaks. Just floating by completely ignoring us. They are really big birds. In the AM we checked out the central portion of the lake. The campsites along have steep and very rocky landings. I would not want to land my yak there. The trip back up the river was not as placid as the paddle down. We had to battle wind, current and intermittent rain the entire way back. Iíve been in much worse conditions out on the Delaware Bay but my arms were still tired by the time we got back to the put in.

More later on hiking the Bigelow range and paddling on Flagstaff Lake
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