Saturday, June 29, 2013

Northern Maine

This information was posted previously on another post, but worth repeating.  The photos, however, are new.  

Body of Water: West Branch of the Penobscot River [Maine Gazetteer Map 50, D/E 5].  There are a few places along the river to put in.  I put in at Abol Bridge Campground because I camp there when I am up that way.  The campground is under new ownership and the new owners may allow people to launch from the campground, but you would need to check in at the campground store to check.  

Directions (from Portland, ME): Head North on 95 or 295 (which merges with 95 just south of Augusta.)  It will take you about 4 hours to get there from Portland, so definitely worth taking a weekend to enjoy the northern Maine woods!  From I 95, you are going to exit at Medway, exit 244.  (Exits on 95 are now numbered by mile markers.) Coming off the exit you will want to turn left onto Rt. 157.  You will stay on Rt 157 through Medway and East Millinocket into Millinocket.  
Once in Millinocket you will go past a couple of grocery stores (if you need any supplies, get them here!)  You will go down a hill and over a small bridge, seeing a traffic light ahead.  You will want to go straight through the traffic light.  This will take you around a corner with an old school on your right.  stay on that road as it turns to the right.  You will see a green sign that says Baxter State Park with an arrow telling you to turn left.  Turn Left towards Baxter State Park.  This puts you on the State Road.  (Not sure if that is the real name of the road, but it is what the locals call it!)  
Once on the state road, you will go under a railroad trestle (The Aroostook RR) and soon you will lose cell phone reception.  (Don't be scared, enjoy the freedom of being signal-less!)  
The State Rd. will take you past a campground/white water rafting company and into Millinocket Lake.  Once you enter Millinocket Lake, you will see the North Woods Trading post on your right.  At that point you will notice that there are two roads, running parallel to one another, the State Rd. and The Golden Road.  I suggest Switching over to the Golden Road.  (Be aware that the Golden Road is an active logging road that has no line markers.  There will be logging trucks with LARGE loads of wood barrelling down the Golden Road.  You will want to stay to the right as far as possible when these guys pass you.  This also means that stopping along the side of the road can be dangerous.  If you stop, make sure your vehicle is completely off the road.Also be aware that this is moose country.  Keep your eyes wide open for moose and deer.  Moose sightings are most common in the evenings, but can be anytime.)  
Once on the Golden Road you don't have to worry about any more turns.  Just stay on that road.  You will pass Compass Pond on your right and River Pond on your left. (Good Moose spotting sights!)   As you get close to Abol Bridge Campground you will round a corner and see Mount Katahdin in all its glory (unless it is cloudy).
Abol Bridge Campground is on the right before the bridge.  Stop at the store to check in, if you are camping, or to see if you can launch your kayak from there.  I do recommend camping there, it is a nice place to be.  

Boat Launch: There is a beach area at the campground where putting your kayak into the river is easy.  There are also several campsites along the water from which you could launch your boat.  (If you get one of those sites.)  

Parking: If you are camping there, you have no parking issues. If you are just using this spot to launch your kayak, You will want to park your vehicle back up by the store.  

Wildlife: Moose, deer, loons, ducks (mergansers and mallards), beavers, eagles, osprey, turtles (snapping), maybe a fox or a bear.  (And white water rafters.. who can be very wild!) 

Notes:  This is a place that is sacred to me.  This is where I learned to canoe and kayak and where I have spent much time with my family and with close family friends.  This is a great place for families, a great place for beginner paddlers or more advanced.  From the beach (or if you stand on the bridge looking at the mountain/river) if you look to the right you can see a very calm place to kayak.  This is Abol stream.  It is a great place for kids to learn to paddle and also a great place to see some wildlife.  I have never gone under the bridge in my kayak, again, I am not a whitewater fan.  I like paddling up the river and then letting the current bring me back to the campground.  The current in this river is stronger than other places I normally paddle, but easy to navigate and well worth the effort.  As you paddle up the river there are smaller pond like areas/streams that are fun to explore.  My mother and I named each of them, including Tadpole Terrace (which is off to the left and now blocked off by a beaver dam.  To get into Tadpole Terrace you would need to portage over the dam) and Baxter Bay, where there is an amazing view of Mt. Katahdin

I must once again remind people to respect the wildlife.  Do not get too close to the animals.  Some of the moose up here are used to seeing people using the river, but need to be respected.  Moose can move quickly on land and in water.  Mothers are very protective of their babies, born in early spring.  Males are more aggressive in the fall, but can be unpredictable year round! 

Water levels on the river can vary.  Higher water levels mean stronger current.  You can paddle quite a while up the river before the current gets strong.  Some people put their kayaks/canoes in just below Nesowadnehunk falls and float down to the campground.  If you choose that option, be aware that the current moves pretty fast from the bottom of the falls until leveling out into some flatter water.  

The following Pictures were taken on the West Branch of the Penobscot River, near Mt. Katahdin.  I did not get close to any moose on this trip, hoping to get up there a bit more this summer and hoping to have some moose encounters!  But... even without the moose there was much to be seen.  For the first time in my life, I got to spend time up there, with otters!  They were adorable.  For videos of the otters, and hopefully other adventures as I have them, click HERE to visit my youtube channel.

The reflections were beautiful! 

An American Bittern.. which disguised itself well as a stick for a while!  



Maine's Mt. Katahdin!  

An osprey...

My kayak resting in between paddles... 

I got to see three otters!  This was one peeking out at me from behind a fallen tree... 




Otters!!!




I got to see newly hatched dragonflies.  There were dozens along the shores.  I got to watch some of them 'hatch' form their previous nymph state to this... it was amazing to see them come out of the shell of the nymph... (If you look closely you can see the exoskeleton of the nymph below the dragonfly.) 

This guy had fallen into the water and I rescued it... it dried off and flew away!  



These next pictures were taken on Cold Stream Pond.  Cold Stream is located in the towns of Enfield and Burlington.  It is a beautiful spot.  I am unsure of where the public boat launch is, as I put in at someone's home, but well worth finding the public launch.  The Pond's name is deceiving, it is a large lake.  It is filled with many large rocks, many homes along its shores, and some boat traffic... and an occasional plane... Wildlife includes birds, specifically loons and ducks, and I have heard moose and deer have been seen, but I have not witnessed it.  














Sunday, June 16, 2013

The Eastern River, Dresden Maine

I apologize for not having my normal format to describe my paddling adventures, but that is because I put in at a friend's house and am unsure of a public launch site... but I will look to see if I can find one.  The river is tidal, and at low tide getting out of the kayak would be a challenge because of the mud... we made it back before low low tide, but the water had gone down and it was a bit of a challenge getting back up the hill to my friend's house.

Not far from her house, in Richmond, I did see a public boat launch, for the Kennebec River.  That would also be a nice paddle...

It was beautiful.  There were 5-6 eagles, including two young ones.  We also saw some herons and cormorants who escaped my camera!  Here are some pictures.




















I love summer in Maine!  Hope you are out in your kayak!  

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Windham, ME: Little Sebago


I did post this location before, but worth re-posting.  

Body of Water: Little Sebago Lake, North Windham, ME [Maine Gazetteer Map 5, C2.5]




Directions (From Portland, ME): Take Rt. 302 North into North Windham. Pass through the shopping area of Windham, with two lanes going in each direction. After  last light before 302 narrows into one lane, turn right onto Angler's  Rd. (Adirt road across from Whites Bridge Rd.) Follow the signs to the boat landing. The road is where that SUV is coming out, right before Thatchers Restaruant.  You will turn onto a dirt road and will be on that road for  a couple of miles.  Stay on the main road and follow boat launch signs.  





Boat Launch: Public Boat Launch, concrete.  Room for bigger boats to launch. 






Parking: Free. Decent sized parking lot with spaces designed for vehicles hauling trailers.  They ask trailer-less vehicles park along the side of the parking area to leave room for the vehicles with trailers. There is often a volunteer there on duty, to inspect boats as they come and go, looking for milfoil.  

Wildlife: Ducks, loons,  and maybe a bald eagle

Notes: This is a great spot for people who like the wider, more open areas.  Lots of area to explore.  If it is windy, it can get pretty choppy.  Today it was really hot with a bit of a breeze.  There were times the paddling was hard because I was paddling into the wind, but worth it to beat the heat.  I also would recommend wearing your bathing suit and take a rope to secure your kayak to shore while you take a dip.  I found a few places that were crystal clear with a sandy bottom  or small rocks on the bottom, perfect for swimming.  There are many islands to explore.  A great place for a hot day paddle!  


I wasn't on the lake long when I came upon this loon.  This is the first loon I have gotten close to this year.  I came upon a few during my paddle today.  




This lake is called Little Sebago, but it is not little!  Lots of paddling to be had!  

There are lots of areas of the lake to explore, many islands and coves.  




This shot is a little goofy, but it was taken just as the loon was going for a dive.  

It resurfaced and decided to do a little preening.  

So beautiful!  (Yes that is my life vest on my kayak not on me... I do recommend wearing one, especially if you are inexperienced.)  



I love the sparking water in this shot.  



I got to see the bald eagle, but didn't get a great picture, but he was soaring, a lot of fun to watch.   

This is one of the places I went in swimming.  The bottom was pretty sandy... and pulling my kayak up on shore was easy.  


A nest...


It was a hazy day... and the clouds were beautiful... 




Again, this is a great spot if you want to swim in between some paddle time... lots of shoreline that is uninhabited.  
Enjoy!