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  1. #1
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    My first bikepacking adventure

    OK, so I got the bug from you guys and the idea for where to go hit me this weekend, Baxter State park in northern Maine, 200,000 acres of wilderness! Baxter includes Mt. katahdin, the dramatic peak at the very northern end of the Appalachian Trail. I have been up Katahdin & also carcamping/hiking there before. Brought a canoe once, but the 1' snow on Columbus Day (in Oct) dampened our enthusiasm for that. Bikes are only allowed on the 43 mi perimeter road, but there is a lot to see from that - especially by bike - and the speed limit is 20mph. Right now the road is stillclosed due to mud season. I need to plan it out & reserve my sites, but I also want to bring my kayak and use a couple remote sites you have to paddle to. So I'm thinking I will drive to a put-in about 1/2way up the road and leave the car there with the cooler so I can restock food afterwards on the bike, pedaling south to the end of the road, and back again over several days, taking side dayhikes/moosewatching/swimming sidetrips on foot as desired. No stores in the park, closest towns about 20mi from either entry gate. Then back to the car for some more food,etc. & perhaps continue to the N end of the road & back (sadly, it is not a loop), and if I still have another night, another kayak stay at the big lake at the N end of the park.

    I tried to mapmyride it this a.m. at home, but the park road does not show up on the map. Here's the park map, bikes are allowed on the black lines only http://www.baxterstateparkauthority....ages/maps.html A pic of the Knife's Edge on Katahdin, I won't be going that high! The moose are at Sandy Stream pond, [pic from Sublime Images of new England on Facebook], a short hike from 1 of the campgrounds. The calves are always reddish like that, and you can see the mother is still losing her winter coat.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails My first bikepacking adventure-cpviewknifeedge.jpg  

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  2. #2
    a lazy pedaler
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    looks like a great trip xplorer!
    seems like you'll have a great time and be able to get some great pics out of it too!

  3. #3
    weirdo
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    Whoohoo! Looking forward to the report
    This comming weekend? Is winter gone enough yet? I bet there`s tons of wildlife to watch up there- looks very rugged.

  4. #4
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    Wow. Don't forget insect spray, though. I hear they favor cycling blood, and kayakers are their next choice. Did I say Wow?

  5. #5
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    No, not yet, probably August, I need to accumulate some more gear to carry stuff mostly and I'd like it to be hot enough to swim. August availability looked better too. June is usually black fly month, July & August are still skeetery though. I have been in clouds of mosquitos where you can't even look at a map without walking in circles because it keeps some away and you don't go TOTALLY bonkers! On the bike should be OK, but when you stop you are lunch! The wildlife is great, I've seen a black bear with 2 cubs, moose up close, and coyote there before, hoping I can sneak up on the bike where cars might miss them.

  6. #6
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    Careful gettring to close to Sow with cubs or Cow and Calf. We don't need and XMTBxplorer, now do we, well at least not for quite a few more decades, right?

  7. #7
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    Did some route planning & sent in my reservation request! 7 nights, 7 different campgrounds, last week in August. Most have leantos which will be nice if its raining, though I may still put up the tent for bugs. You have to walk-in to the sites I picked, 250'- 1/2mi max, so a little quieter than the drive-in sites. Hopefully they'll let me at least push the bike in rather than juggle my stuff on foot, but worst case that would be do-able. Mileage about 11-27 miles/day, 110 total if I stick to the itinerary, so time for exploring on foot, swimming, wildlife watching, etc. 1st & last nights with the kayak, 1 site has a 1 mile paddle in to a simple cabin (cook outside, no electricity or plumbing, etc). I will bike back past the car for resupply on Day 5, so the max food I need to carry is 3 full days, day 2 (pm) thru day 5 (am).

  8. #8
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    That sounds awesome. Can't wait to see some photos.

    I'm looking at 7 days on the oregon coast in July... got a Bob Yak trailer for the 29er... the bug has bitten.
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  9. #9
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    Nice! I drove in that area some in '84 on a cross country car camping trip, but a bike will be way better. The trailer sounds like a great addition for your adventure.

  10. #10
    weirdo
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    Great! I like the idea of passing by your car in mid trip. It looks like there will be treatable water avilable pretty much the whole time too, so you shouldn`t have to carry more than a few bottles of water at any given time. Are you going by yourself or have you talked anybody into going along with you?

    CB, yours sounds killer, too. You guys are planning to do the whole OR coast from WA to CA? If you get the chance, a shakedown trip wouldn`t be a bad idea.

  11. #11
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    Yes we're looking at the very well established "oregon coast bike route" from WA to CA. We'll be doing at least a few fully loaded prep rides, but no plans for an overnighter yet...definitely would be smart to do.
    You have no excuse for driving to work
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  12. #12
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    Yes, there should be plenty of water, but you have to treat it, even in the campgrounds. Do you have a preferred method? More challenging will be locating a cold beer, but perhaps I can bum or buy one off of a car camper. I decided to go solo, a week is too long to someone you might be compatible with. Plus I like the wilderness alone, and not having to discuss every decision can be relaxing.

  13. #13
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    I have a Pur water filter for backpacking...super easy pump thingy with a top that fits on a nalgene bottle... there are sevral kinds out there. The lightest weight kind are the new ones that don't even filter...they shock-treat the little bugs and purify the water with some sort of magic. I'm not sure I trust them

    But I don't like using iodine... it's not bad, but there's nothing like pure water.
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  14. #14
    a lazy pedaler
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    water...
    I think I'm going to get one of these soon...I've read good things about them:
    http://www.rei.com/product/786393/sa...system-2-liter
    http://www.rei.com/product/813799/pl...s-water-filter

    I like them cause they are light than most pumpy systems...and rates are not super low...I think 1 liter per minute is fast actually!

  15. #15
    weirdo
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    Lite Beer? I Like solo, too (not that I`ve done much accompanied camping). We still have LOTS of discussion for each and every decision, but we don`t have to explain our motives to anybody or make up reasons when we change our mind. Works good for us. Um, me.

    For water treatment, I just use iodine. Other stuff might be better somehow, but since iodine is all I`ve ever used, and I`ve never felt the need to try anything else, I just stick with it. It goes well with my rim brakes.
    Huh- I didn`t know some of the filters were gravity powered. Something new every day!

  16. #16
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    That's gonna be a cool trip!
    Jason
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  17. #17
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    CB, saw this deal for your bob - $44 from $146 new without tags

    http://www.geartrade.com/browse/114/531/604/item/164422
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  18. #18
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    Oohhh that looks pretty sweet. I got the Bob brand one with the trailer though... it's basically a dry sack. Has the roll top like that one, but oddly it does not have the cool tapered shape to make it integrate with the trailer as well as that one looks like it would. It also doesn't have a more rigid lower section to make it hold its shape like that. It will hold great gobs of gear though, and it's waterproof...that's going to be critical on the OR coast.
    You have no excuse for driving to work
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  19. #19
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    I have not heard back yet on my mail-in reservations, but I checked the online availability system & all the sites I requested are now shown as not available on those dates, hopefully because they have been reserved for yours truly!

  20. #20
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    The camping reservation confirmations came back - I'm committed now!

    I also found out I don't have to worry about charging the cell, as there is no service in the park, except perhaps on the peaks.
    Last edited by mtbxplorer; 05-02-2011 at 06:27 PM.

  21. #21
    weirdo
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    Reservations and battery charging- two issues solved in one day! Awesome!
    Now all you need are ice cream bars and a 1000m cliff to ride up

  22. #22
    a lazy pedaler
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    Quote Originally Posted by rodar y rodar
    Now all you need are ice cream bars and a 1000m cliff to ride up
    don't do it!

    awesome xplorer! dont't forget batteries for your camera!

  23. #23
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    ^^ Hahahaha
    Unfortunately, the ice cream bars will be hard to come by. There are cliffs aplenty, but I will have to hike to get to those, the tote road where bikes are allowed isn't too steep.

    My camera seems pretty good on batteries, but the rechargeable GPS is another matter, it dies in less than a day.

  24. #24
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    A few goodies to help me carry stuff on the bike have arrived. A bar thingy from Revelate Designs looks great and fits (straps on) my tent and sleeping pad, plus has a pocket on top for small accessible stuff. I also got a frame triangle bag from Jannd. Since my frame is small it crowds my bottle cages but it will work for some stuff. I still need space for my sleeping bag, clothes & food. A seat bag seems like it will be a tight fit, but might work combined with my small backpack and would make me pack lighter.. My frame has no rack mounts & also that unicoi 1" rear shock so a regular rack won't work. Sorry for the blur...
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails My first bikepacking adventure-bars.jpg  

    My first bikepacking adventure-frame.jpg  


  25. #25
    miwuksurfer
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    ^^^^ Rad. ^^^^

  26. #26
    weirdo
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    Oh, I missed the last update!
    Cool setup Xplorer- looks like your cargo carrying situation is going to point you towards an ultralight style. Have you looked for good tips on bikepacking.net? That site seems to be the collecting point for ultralight gurus.

  27. #27
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    Yes, bikepacking.net has a lot of good ideas and examples posted - thanks. Did you see all the DIY seamsters on there? I'm not up for that but you might find some tips. I also got some good easy recipe ideas from some backpacking sites. If I like it, I hope to do some trail trips (this one is dirt road), so the lighter setup will hopefully make more of that kind of trip rideable. I really like how the bar unit was super easy to load no fussing around, just slide in the tent & pad & cinch it up.

  28. #28
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    Packed up for a dry run Sunday on some local trails. Tent and pad on the front, sleeping bag & other stuff rear. Handled amazingly well, on singletrack, with tight turns, rocks, & roots, but didn't attempt anything technical or steep.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails My first bikepacking adventure-p8070789.jpg  

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  29. #29
    weirdo
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    Groovy! How did you manage the rear rack?

  30. #30
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    The rack is a Freeloader - very sturdy, very adjustable for all kinds of bikes, but heavier than regular racks. It attaches to the seat stays with ratcheting straps. I also got the optional side frames to secure the panniers better in the rough.
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  31. #31
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    Awesome! So when is the trip? Can you publish your packing list? I take it you're going alone? Be safe, have fun and take LOTS of pics.

  32. #32
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    Hi, I leave on Friday, but the first 2 nights are kayak camping & then I start the bike travels. I will post the pack list, probably on bikepacker.net with a link or copy here, as I got a lot of good ideas there & want to pay it forward. I usually do well remembering to take scenic pics, but I hope I remember to take the routine pix in camp, etc. as well. It will be interesting to see if I am dying for company & civilization after 8 nights alone with no phone, computer, power, etc.

  33. #33
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    very cool, i'm jealous

  34. #34
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    The forecast looks a little disappointing...not a speck of sun in the forecast Fri-Tue, and 50% chance of showers or thunderstorms, phooey! Bikecommuter "to heck with the weather" skills may be needed.

    Found this apropo 1904 verse on the Baxter state park's website (Pamola is the mountain spirit that lives on Katahdin, and a looservee is a lynx):

    ―Ye will know when Marm Pamola is a turnin‘ of ‗em loose
    By the hunchin‘s and the shivers of the hemlock an‘ the spruce
    For they tremble an‘ they shake an‘ the lippin‘ lappin‘ lake
    Goes a-slaverin‘ the ledges, an‘ the hills begin to quake.
    The flutter an‘ the flarin‘s of the crooked lightnin‘s scare
    The looservee, the coon an‘ fox, the deer and gruntin‘ bear,
    Then out o‘ old Katahdin come the devils on the whoop,
    For Pamola at the doorway gives the order, ―Clear the coop!‖
    And the awful thunder drums, an‘ the wind it sings and hums
    Then burstin‘ to a grummer howl the roaring whirlwind comes.
    And down from off the mountain in the shootin‘ sheets of flame
    The devils of Katahdin come to play their reg‘lar game.
    Then it‘s men hold tight, pray for mornin‘ light,
    Katahdin‘s caves are empty an‘ the fiends are out to-night.


    H’ant O’ Katahdin” in part, from Kin O’ Kataadn , by Holman Day, 1904

  35. #35
    weirdo
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    No rain! I`ll do a drought dance for you, Xplorer. Don`t worry, I`ll make sure to dance for a SHORT drought. Anyway, hope you have a great trip, rain or no rain.

    The poem sounds like Jabberwocky.

  36. #36
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    Kind of off topic, but I bet the Arkel seat post rack (~$90) would be every bit as sturdy as the freeloader rack (~$189 NZD = ~ $159 USD 08/17/11) mentioned above.

    Personally, if I were touring off road I'd skip the rack and use my Nelson Longflap with a Bagman support.

  37. #37
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    The Arkel does look better than most cantilever racks, which have a tendency to spin or snap in 2, but the load limit is 13 lbs vs 55 lbs for the freeload, plus there is no way to stabilize panniers.

  38. #38
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    I made it back from my most excellent bike, hike, kayak adventure in Maine late Saturday, and made it through the hurricane, although a dozen of VT's bridges did not, including some of the old covered bridges. Tough getting around, and my work got flooded so it could be as long as 2 weeks before I go back to work and bikecommuting!
    a few pics for now...
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  39. #39
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    Awesome!!!

  40. #40
    Still want a fat bike....
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    More please!

    That seems like it would have been a lot of fun. I'd love to try something like that in Michigan some time.

  41. #41
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    Nice! That place looks amazing. Crazy timing with the hurricaine! Glad you pulled it off.
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  42. #42
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    Thanks for the report. Been thinking of you there. Your long descent out your gate would keep your place dry enough, but nice to hear you pulled through. Even better that you not only survived the wild but enjoyed it. You have a good reason to 'Remember (the) Maine'.

    We have three covered bridges in this and two adjacent counties (I showed The Duchess in one last year) and the longest one took a direct tornado hit a few years back. Traumatic enough. Can't imagine losing roads and bridges wholesale.

    BrianMc

  43. #43
    a lazy pedaler
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    Cool!
    Yes, please! full report and more pics!

  44. #44
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    Yes, more to come! Thanks to everyone for the inspiration to do the trip, especilly Martin, Rodar & CommuterBoy! Good to see your post Martin, I heard some more bad news from MTY on the radio.

  45. #45
    a lazy pedaler
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    yep...the casino thing was terrible... incredible

  46. #46
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    Wow, a Bulwinkle even! Glad you had a good time and hope you`re able to get back to work again soon. I`m up at CB`s lake again on the third day of my own minitour. Lassen NP tomorrow, then make a U-turn and brave the traffic on the most direct route home. Since you can`t get in to work, you`ll have no excuse for not having the rest of your pictures online by the time I get home!

  47. #47
    weirdo
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    Quote Originally Posted by martinsillo View Post
    yep...the casino thing was terrible... incredible
    I don`t know what that`s about- need to check into it after I hit the weather forecast. Sure glad you weren`t hit in whatever happened, though. Stay safe!

  48. #48
    Wierdo
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    Nice pics and report mtbxplorer. Thanks for sharing your adventure with us!

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    Im inspired. Going on a S24O tomorrow night. Gravel, mud, unknown roads. Camping 30miles from home. Riding the Pugsley! Should be fun. I've bikepacked before, but never on my own.
    Jason
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  50. #50
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    Quote Originally Posted by rodar y rodar View Post
    Wow, a Bulwinkle even! Glad you had a good time and hope you`re able to get back to work again soon. I`m up at CB`s lake again on the third day of my own minitour. Lassen NP tomorrow, then make a U-turn and brave the traffic on the most direct route home. Since you can`t get in to work, you`ll have no excuse for not having the rest of your pictures online by the time I get home!
    Are you coming down the Bizz from Westwood? If you see this, let me know when you think you'll be rolling through town.
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  51. #51
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    Looks like the weather was descent. I'm glad you made it back safely and I look forward to seeing more pics. (Don't forget to flip them before you upload them )
    Low saddles save balls.

    You win again, gravity!

  52. #52
    weirdo
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    Any more ready to go? Able to get back to work yet?

  53. #53
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    Need some time to post more pics, working OT on flood-related issues, and fieldwork is taking extra time due to closed roads, including some major (well, for VT) state routes, making for long days. The flooded office is not likely to re-open for 4 mos. Haven't seen my bike since my trip , though I did herar of a fish & wildlife guy getting to the fish hatchery to check on it using his MTB when the road was closed.

  54. #54
    weirdo
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    Four months !
    Well, I hope your job is safe even if the office is submerged or otherwise trashed. The Fish and Game guy riding out to check on the hatchery is cool. Have you ever ridden for official business?

  55. #55
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    I have stopped at a facility on my bikecommute to take some photos for work, but other than that, no. Someone else rode to a meeting only 3 mi away and the boss did not like that, she thought it wasn't safe, though we never got official word not to do so. I recall you had to go get some parts (?) one time - cool!

    Saw your post with your campstove, nice. One of my fave non-cook meals was a burrito, made with Fantastic foods dried refried beans & minute rice (add water & let sit in a ziploc). Add some cheese (this might be harder in your climate) a snack size salsa,and if you are willing to carry a small onion it made it like real food.

  56. #56
    weirdo
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    Yeah- I had to go take measurements at another plant and got my butt chewed by direct supervisor for wasting time- the "big bosses" either never heard about it or didn`t care.

    Fantastic beans! I love those! They used to be available at a health-nut overpriced grocery way down at the other end of Reno, but when I went to pick up a few boxes before this last trip, I couldn`t find them any longer . I had one box left, part of which ended up in the same picture with the mashed potatoes and the camp stove. I premeasure at home one serving of beans with one serving of instant rice and wrap up together in a little Saran Wrap pouch. I see those beans are available on the internet. Better just order a few for next time- not like they`ll go bad in a hurry. We can carry cheese here, just have to be a kind of selective. String cheese in individual plastic sticks keeps fine. This time, I went out on a limb and bought a little bit Swiss. It did okay for two days or so that it took me to go through it.

  57. #57
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    Day 1

    Loaded up the car with bike, kayak and 8 days worth of supplies & headed to Maine.

    Arrived at Baxter State Park and found this mural just south of the Togue Pond gatehouse. Mt Katahdin, the northern terminus of the Appalachian trail from Georgia, was visible, but it was too gray for good pics.

    Got to Kidney pond with just enough daylight to load up my kayak to paddle across to my wilderness cabin. These were part of old fishing camps before they became part of the park. Mine is called camp OJI, because it looks out on Mt OJI, which has rockslides someone thought looked like the letter OJI, before there were more rockslides! I had a nice fire and grilled my dinner. It thundered and lightning during dinner, but the rain held off until bedtime, I was at least a half mile from any other cabins or campers - nice!

    At this point, the bike was still on the car....
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  58. #58
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    Day 2

    I awoke at Camp OJI to clear skies and decided on a multi-modal day to take advantage of the good weather. I paddled across Kidney Pond, left the kayak there, took the bike off the car, rode 4 mi up the tote road to the trailhead for Mt. Coe.

    Along the way, I saw the grave of the unknown river driver, which I was not sure was symbolic or not. I later found out it is real and there are at least half a dozen known graves of river drivers in the park. Those are the loggers that used to walk on the cut logs on rivers and get them down stream, using hobnail boots, peaveys, and dynamite. It was dangerous work.

    I locked the bike at the trailhead with a really wimpy, really lightweight combo cable lock, a little wimpier than people use for their skis steps from the ski lodge. It was there where I got back.

    Mt Coe is not the tallest in the park, but is wonderfully situated between Katahdin, Doubletop, the Brothers, and OJI. OJI is the one with the stripes on it. The second half of the hike is all up the pictured rockslide, with tricky footing in the wet spots. I only saw 4 people on the whole hike. Had a good lunch up there and enjoyed the view. I also found I had cell signal up there (none on the tote road or lake), and texted that I had arrived and was having a wonderful time, but not to worry if they didn't here from me.

    On the way down I stopped at a wonderful bathtub formation on the stream. It was still freezing despite being August & you were numb within seconds.

    At the trailhead on the return, I forgot my hiking pole at the outhouse, but did not miss it until the next morning. Dang.
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  59. #59
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    Day 2...after the hike

    After the hike on day 2, I pedalled back to Kidney pond and kayaked back to my cabin, taking a nice tour around the pond at dusk. I saw loons & evening grosbeaks. The 2nd pic is Katahdin, the highest in maine, and 13' shy of a mile high. The mountain made for interesting weather; it was a beautiful starry night, but again there was thunder and lightning. I grilled over a fire again for dinner, as I was able to fit a lunchpail cooler in the kayak. Love that kayak, a Phoenix Isere, got it in about 1986 for $350, they shipped it to my apt. in a truck and I had to store it in my boss' barn or on my '77 Nova.
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  60. #60
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    Wow beautiful scenery. I dream of bikepacking some day.
    Low saddles save balls.

    You win again, gravity!

  61. #61
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    Yeah! I love the ones with the glass surface of the ponds! BTW, how close were you to the moose in the first batch of pictures? Looks scary close to me.

  62. #62
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    Quote Originally Posted by rodar y rodar View Post
    ... BTW, how close were you to the moose in the first batch of pictures? Looks scary close to me.
    The cow moose probably came within 25' of my viewpoint when she was leaving the pond. Most of the time, they are amazingly unperturbed by people and just munch away, as long as you stay a respectful distance away. One photographer there, though, said that on a previous day a moose decided the best route off the pond was over a little boardwalk where moosewatchers were, and a $8000 lens went flying. In the fall rut the bulls can be more unpredictable.

  63. #63
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    awesome xplorer! thanks for sharing!
    the bug is back! can't wait for october!

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    Day 3

    On day 3 I left my kayakadventure and started the bikeadventure in earnest. After packing up from the cabin and paddling around to explore the pond some more, I locked the kayak on the car, loaded up the bike and pedalled north on the tote road.

    That lasted .5 mi. I had not tightened the rack enough for the heavier load, and it slipped down onto the tire and sprocektt - ugh! I guess I took the warnings of not overtightening the ratcheting straps a little too seriously. Off came everything I had just packed on! Luckily I had the special tool + allen wrench along as Freeload had also reccomended. I repositioned the rack, tightened it, reloaded, and it didn't budge for the rest of the trip.

    My destination was a walk-in lean-to on South Branch Pond, a 26 mi ride on the tote road. The riding was good, with little car traffic and challenging but manageable hills, even with the load. One thing I found is that the road is so narrow, winding, and empty, that people tend to drive in the middle of it; when they meet another car they have to slow and pull way over, or even off the road in narrower sections, but some thought "it's only a bike" and continued down the middle of the road. It felt inconsiderate, but never dangerous.

    It was raining lightly and thunder/lightning by the time I got to the campground. The ranger let me push the bike on the .5 mi trail rather than carry my stuff - but it was hard work! A rough trail, more hills than I expected on a lakeside trail, and a stream crossing at the lake outlet. I arrived at my lean-to sweating and took a quick dip in the lake. That felt good! Then I retreated to my lean-to as the wind and rain increased. 30mph+ was forecast, so I was glad not to be in a tent. It was really cozy and nice to be able to watch the storm. Even the bike was under cover. I saw 2 canoeists booking it for the boat landing in the downpour and lightning - yikes!

    Those are my Zemgear booties, which I loved for stream crossings, swimming in rocky ponds, and slippers around camp (when dry). They are really lightweight, and are sold for beach volleyball, etc.

    On the handlebars in a drybag are my tent & pad, The panniers were basically clothes on 1 side and food/kitchen on the other, and the sleeping bag on top of the rack.
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  65. #65
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    Day 4

    I packed up after the all night rain, but when I got to the stream crossing (the pond outlet), it was much deeper than the day before. I plowed through, but my hubs, panniers, and shorts were underwater. The panniers were not waterproof, but I was glad I had opted for drybags inside them, so my clothes and food stayed dry. I doubt the optional raincovers would have worked as well, plus the drybags were also great in the kayak.

    After a quick dip at the beach, I locked up the bike at the ranger station and went for a hike. I had planned to do the Pogy Notch trail, a remote part of the Appalachian trail, which seemed a good choice for a cloudy & threatening day rather than a mountaintop. But I got to the 1st stream crossing & it was too deep. I got halfway across in bare feet and turned back because of the depth & strong current. So instead I continued on the Howes Falls trail paralleling the riverbank. My shoes got wet anyway, but the falls were great after the 2" rain. Had some PB & crackers, hiked back & rode on to Trout Brook Farm campground.

    I had another great walk-in site with that point on the river all to myself. It was very windy and many at the campground had planned to paddle to remote sites on the big Matagammon lake, but could not make any headway in the wind. They said it was like an ocean. I thought the "freezeout trail" would have a good story, but my book says the source of the name is unknown, but that it follows an old logging road also known as the "Burma road" because of it's ups and downs over slate ridges. I see Burma is next to Tibet, so I think they were exagerating.
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  66. #66
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    End of Day 4

    After I got to the Trout Brook Farm lean-to, I unpacked the bike & rode on to the north end of the Baxter State Park perimeter road, it was another 5 mi or so. At Matagammon Lake a cute older ranger volunteered to take my picture - & he got in it too. I asked him if there were any good sights a mile or two past the gate & he suggested I go to the outlet dam on Lake Matagammon. The dam was OK, but the really cool thing was the bald eagle that went right overhead following the river while I was at the dam. Not quick or close enough for a pic, but my jaw dropped! Another ranger later told me there are 4-5 hanging on the lake. On the way back to the north (Matagammon) gate, a big birch tree had fallen across the road in the time I was gone. I was pleased it had not fallen on me! I felt only a little bad when I hopped over it on the bike while 2 drivers prepared to try drag it off the road to allow passage by car. That night I had yummy burritos, and a beer 2 canoeists gave me. Doesn't anyone drink canned beer anymore? The park is pack-in-pack-out so I had to carry that darn bottle until I got back to my car.
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  67. #67
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    beautiful pics!
    those look like some really nice walks! everything so green!
    good move with the dry bags!

  68. #68
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    Xplorer, as nice as the bike pictures are, you`ve got me hankering to try out flat water kayaking. I don`t know if there`s really any suitable place around here for it, but I`ll look into it for a possibility next summer.

    It looks like you really got lucky sneaking your riding and paddling in between the downpours- I bet you`re glad you didn`t call it off when you saw that ugly weather forecast a couple weeks ago.

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    Day 5

    A nice morning, cool, but I could not tear myself away from my sunny point on the river until the 11 a.m. checkout time. I had the best site in the campground, the rest were just in a field or a buggy trailside spot. The other walkin sites were empty, so the closest people were .3 mi away. Took a swim but was not brave enough to jump off the rock. The ranger came by (he was covering another campground & it was self-check in the day before), and nicely said I shouldn't have taken the bike on the trail, even though I walked. I explained the other campground let me push in 1/2 mi, so I thought it was OK. I guess they have not clarified what no bikes means. But at this point, of course I had to push it out, so it didn't matter.

    I decided to go for a hike before moving on to the next campground on the tote road. It was a great hike, first up Trout River Mtn, a low peak but nice views & blueberries, and then the 5 ponds loop. It was cool because you could see the 5 ponds from the mountain & it looked far. I was impressed that at at least 3 ponds there were park canoes you could use, though you had to get the key first. These were as much as 4 mi from the trailhead! I thought the rangers carried them in, but one later told me they bring them in winter on snowmobile. All the canoe/kayak rentals in the park are a real bargain at $1/hr or $8/day. You sign one out and put money in the box on the honor system. Beaver activity was also evident at the ponds. I did not see 1 person on the whole 8 mi hike. The last mile seemed to take forever, not because it was tough terrain, but it was pretty far and I was getting anxious about getting to the next campground, preferably before dark. I brought a good headlamp for around camp and use on the bike if needed, rather than bringing a bike light.

    I unlocked the bike, which I left outside the unmanned ranger station, and my gear was untouched by human or bear. Took off, and my legs felt good since they were plenty warmed up. I pushed it more than in previous days because of the hour. I was now heading south (back toward my car). I was amazed how I had conveniently "forgotten" all the uphill I now had to do. After a while I tired & just wanted to get there. It was about 22 mi to Nesowdenehunk campground, but I only avg'd 7-8 mph on the tote road, so it was about a 3 hour trip.

    I was thrilled to arrive before dark, and checked in. Looking around the ranger station, I saw my hiking pole in a corner with a "found" sheet stapled to it. Yay, someone had turned it in! I had a tent site reserved, but the ranger said there was a lean-to open, and being tired, I was thrilled to take that. She waived the usual $15 transfer fee because it was so late in the day. I still had not used my tent I was carrying around, as the bugs were not bad at night in the lean-to.

    On the way to my lean to, a big bull moose crossed the road right in front of me. It then stopped by a picnic shelter to munch on the alders, etc. It was too dark to get good pics (barely visible in center of last one), but I could see it well & was thrilled. It had 8 point antlers.

    I settled in at the lean-to and made a delicious Thai meal. I don't remember the brand but it comes in a take-out shaped box at the supermarket. The rice noodles cook fine in a ziploc with boiling water added. The padthai sauce powder & coconut milk powder were lightweight and tasted fine without the simmering suggested on the package.
    I ate the whole box.

    At 1:30 a.m. I heard noise outside the lean-to and figured t was a racoon. But when I looked out with my headlamp, I saw moose ears above the brush. It continued munching, moving closer to the lean-to, close enough to hear the chewing, snorting, twigs snapping, etc. Neat!
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    Day 6

    I am now getting sad about the end of my 8-night adventure approaching, I feel like I could explore the park for another month and not run out of things to do. I have not gotten lonely either, always something to do, and an audiobook on ipod at night.

    It was a nice morning & I decided to have an easy day. First I checked out the tent site I had declined (OK, but nothing special), and saw this crazy tree. A few miles from the campground, I hung out & swam at ledge falls swimming hole - cold water, warm rocks, kids sliding down the smooth rocks. Drooled a bit over others' fresh-made sandwiches. As you can see in the photo, it also has nearby outhouses that are the finest I have seen - that paneling would be welcome in my house. Then back to Kidney Pond where my car was for restocking supplies, unloading trash, and a couple cold beers that still survived in the mostly-cold-water and a few pieces of ice cooler. I sat by the pond and watched the fly fishermen (I only saw them catch and skin frogs legs for dinner) and kids hunting leeches. It was not far to my next campground, Katahdin Stream, and I had another lean-to there. The view of Katahdin (pic) enroute was clear. I bought a big pile of firewood for $3 and had a nice big fire before bed.
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  71. #71
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    Wow, Xplorer, the lush green on those mountains just goes forever- gorgeous!

    Questions and comments:
    1. No riding, or even walking a bike to a lot of the campsites would have been tough if you didn`t have a backpack along. Are they too far apart to reasonably make it a hike only trip? Are there enough campsites that you CAN ride right into that you could have routed a little differently to avoid that?
    2. Since you can`t walk a bike to those sites, I take it you can`t pull a canoe or kayak on a dolly? Sounds like a lot of water-type people around there- do they have to portage with whatever kind of shell they use on their shoulders? That must be even worse! Or is it feasible to keep checking out the rentals at each pond?
    3. Did you just get lucky with all those moose sightings, or is it some kind of Moose Central around there?
    4. You mention bears- do you have bear boxes or have to hang bear bags at night? And you stash your garbage in your car- not a problem (bear-wise) in that neighborhood?
    5. Thanks for the Thai food idea! I`ve seen a lot of relatively instant Thai stuff in our supermarkets, but the ones I looked at closely all had "simmer" in the instructions, so I`ve passed them by. Maybe I`ll try some and justignore that part. Oh, I ordered a big package (six pouches) of instant refried beans from Amazon. Not Fantastic brand, but hopefuly they`ll still be tasty.
    6. Beavers on flat water. What kind of eveidence do they leave around flat water? We have some in the mountains around here, but ours only seem to go for creeks.

  72. #72
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    Nevada Moose

    I saw this guy in somebody`s front yard while I went riding by, and it made me think of your thread here. I didn`t know we had any moose here, but it appears there`s at least one (of the bronze variety) in Washoe Valley!
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  73. #73
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    I messed up the formatting on my reply below, but you get the idea...
    Nice rare Nevada moose!

    Quote Originally Posted by rodar y rodar View Post
    Wow, Xplorer, the lush green on those mountains just goes forever- gorgeous!

    Questions and comments:
    1. No riding, or even walking a bike to a lot of the campsites would have been tough if you didn`t have a backpack along. Are they too far apart to reasonably make it a hike only trip? Are there enough campsites that you CAN ride right into that you could have routed a little differently to avoid that?
    All the campgrounds I used were "frontcountry" campgrounds that you can drive to on the tote road that I biked on. Most of these are too far to walk between. I chose the walk-in sites at some of these campgrounds because they looked like they had better (or more) real estate than the drive-in sites, or fewer neighbors. There are also backcountry campsites that you can only backpack to, or in some cases canoe to.

    2. Since you can`t walk a bike to those sites, I take it you can`t pull a canoe or kayak on a dolly? Sounds like a lot of water-type people around there- do they have to portage with whatever kind of shell they use on their shoulders? That must be even worse! Or is it feasible to keep checking out the rentals at each pond?
    At South Branch Pond, it would have been easier to canoe across to my site than push the bike, but the lightning decided me against that. My Trout Brook farm site was easier to walk in the .3 mi than paddle in, because it was upstream, at least with the high flows after all that rain. If you wanted to stay at the backcountry sites on 5 ponds trail, you would backpack in with the keys for the chained up canoes, and just use their canoes rather than portage. If you wanted a real paddling adventure, you would do the 740 mi N'n Forest Canoe Trail from Canada, thru ME, NH, VT, & NY. There is also a lot of whitewater rafting on the nearby Allagash in ME.

    3. Did you just get lucky with all those moose sightings, or is it some kind of Moose Central around there?
    If you go to Baxter state park and don't see moose, you are disappointed! A lot of N'n & W'n ME are indeed "moose central", and certain highway routes are dangerous for this reason (hard to see since they are dark colored, no white like deer, eyeballs often too tall to reflect, and if you hit them they are so tall they often come through the windshield) & known as "moose alley", etc. Certain ponds in the park are particularly good moose-sighting areas - the moose can eat like 100lbs of aquatic vegetation, and they also go there to escape the bugs. If you happen upon a moose calendar, you can be sure some of the photos will be from Baxter.

    4. You mention bears- do you have bear boxes or have to hang bear bags at night? And you stash your garbage in your car- not a problem (bear-wise) in that neighborhood?
    Only black bears in ME, so typically not super agressive, but they will get into your food if they have a chance. I did hang my food, but usually just from the lean-to front beam, or in a tree when I tented. For car campers, they tell you to put the food in the car, so I guess it is safe there. It sounds like there are less bear problems now that the park is carry-in/carry out, and there are no campground dumpsters to tempt the bears. Near Katahdin, where more campers are staying just a night or 2 for the hike, they had the most warning signs about bear problems, probably because it is such a popular campground & people focused on the climb might get sloppy. With all the blueberries I saw in campgrounds and on hikes, I was surprised not to see a bear, but perhaps they know about the off-trail berry patches.

    5. Thanks for the Thai food idea! I`ve seen a lot of relatively instant Thai stuff in our supermarkets, but the ones I looked at closely all had "simmer" in the instructions, so I`ve passed them by. Maybe I`ll try some and justignore that part. Oh, I ordered a big package (six pouches) of instant refried beans from Amazon. Not Fantastic brand, but hopefuly they`ll still be tasty.

    I chose the Thai meal with the shortest simmer time (<5mins I believe) to be more confident of success. The noodles got plenty soft and it didn't really matter if the sauce was a bit thinner than if simmered. If those beans are no good, they still have Fantastic beans here in 1 supermarket & the food coop...let me know if you need a care package.


    6. Beavers on flat water. What kind of eveidence do they leave around flat water? We have some in the mountains around here, but ours only seem to go for creeks.
    [I]That white stick in the pic was chewed by beaver, always an angular cut and sometimes those brown/white toothmarks too. Here they will dam a stream to make a pond and a pond to make a bigger pond. Sometimes you can see the dams or the lodges. You also see beaver lumberjack "mistakes", where they try to fell a big tree, and manage to chew through it, but it falls onto another tree and gets stuck instead of being able to be used for construction. I used to see really big beavers in the river where I lived in ME, I almost couldn't believe how big they were, and was a bit worried about the dogs swimming; my wildlife book said these were known as "king beavers", I think the cutoff was >3' long, but google is failing me on that now[/I]

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    Day 6

    I decided to start the day with a hike despite the rain that was forecast for later in the day All the campgrounds post the weather forecast & the "class day" which tells you if above-treeline trails are open, closed, or somewhere in between (not recommended for hiking, but not closed). I chose the Blueberry Ledges trail, which did not really look like anything special on the map, no peak or big elevation gain or anything. I had left the couple-pound trail guide book in the car & was going just by the map & distances on the map. The Ranger suggested I not leave the bike at the trailhead, because the Appalachian Trail was also there, and they were having some issues with people living on the trail off other people (not the regular Gga-ME thru-hikers) and raiding peoples' stuff. I was a bit surprised to hear this, because to get here, hikers have to traverse the "100-mile wilderness", known as the wildest section of the AT, where there are no towns, roads, help, etc. for 100 miles, & signs warn hikers to carry at least 10 days of supplies. Glad for this tip though, since most of my supplies were on the bike. I left it at the ranger station and walked to the trailhead.

    I was wowed by this trail in many ways, it went though such a variety of habitats, all within a 3 mi trail (1-way). The first was beautiful green mossy forest with a red ribbon of evergreen-needle trail tread. Very tasty. Then beautiful birches, and big boulders left by glaciers (they say you can survive on that lichen growing on the rock). Follow this with majestic cedars, and then a blueberry-lined trail (easily filled a ziploc without even trying) with lots of rock hopping. And suddenly you emerged from the forest into an amazing open area called the ledges. My first thought was "amazing", and the 2nd was "what a MTB playground this would be" (no bikes allowed). There was ledge, some rock berms carved by water, water sluices/falls, berries, and standing dead trees. The pix don't really capture it. I explored around off-trail, working my way upsteam until I found the best "jacuzzi" for a quick refreshing dip. Again, saw nobody except at the AT lean-to right near the trailhead (those kinda spooky hanging cables in the next-to-last pic are for quick-n-easy hanging of food from bears) , and I was happy to be seeing so many areas of the park that most don't see when they just come to climb Katahdin.

    I got back to the campground and bike without any serious rain, and pressed on toward Roaring Brook Campground 16.5 mi on the bike. For most of this trek it rained, but since it was almost all uphill I didn't really mind...I would have been just as wet from sweat if it was hot and sunny.

    I didn't bother with the rainjacket, too warm, just rode in a merino wool T. I loved these for bikepacking...they don't get stinky like poly (OK, maybe stinky like a sheep-shearing contest on a rainy day), and after I rinsed 1 in the river and hung it up, I just put it on to take it from damp-dry to totally dry from body heat in just a short time .

    At the campground, the ranger asked several times to make sure I didn't have a car - I guess they don't see many bikepackers there, plus parking is tight because of the Katahdiin trailheads here.

    I put up the tent in the rain, 1st time, I had never gotten around to trying it at home, but I had read the instructions over breakfast that day. It's a 1person Eureka Spitfire, $99. It went up pretty easily,and I threw in my pad & sleeping bag, but I didn't want to get in the tent already in the afternoon, and was glad to find a covered picnic shelter elsewhere in the campground for dinner/relaxing. Most of the car campers had their own rain tarps, etc., so the shelter was available. On the way to dinner I bummed a beer off a family that was packing up to leave. I also met a group from a few towns over in VT. They were undecided whether or no to do the Knife's Edge route up Katahdin. I had done this route before and encouraged it, but someone asked if I was afraid of heights, and I had to admit not. They offered me another beer and to truck it out for me the next day.

    After dinner & listening to my audiobook, it stopped raining for awhile & I went to bed, but rained again overnight, and I stayed dry in my tent. I liked the Spitfire, it has a lot of ventilation but good rainfly coverage, and unlike many small tents, you can sit up in it. I barely had enough room lengthwise for my pad, clothing dry bag & backpack, though, so a taller person might find it snug, especially with supplies. I just used a polarfleece pullover wrapped around a few other items as my pillow and found that plenty comfy.
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  75. #75
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    Day 7

    Dang, a few pix from yesterday I forgot to include: Sighted a moose in "Stump Pond" along the tote road; and you know you are in northern ME when the town line markers start to say T3 R9 instead of an actual town name. The "unorganized territories" are just numbered, mostly on a grid pattern, as in "township 3, range 9" on the sign. This starts like 100 interstate exits south of the park, and includes 400 unincorporated townships, and over half of Maine's land!

    Waking up I was at the far SE terminus of the tote road, and only had to return to my car & 1 more night in a cabin to complete my journey. But before leaving the campground, and before breakfast, I went out to Sandy Stream Pond with my coffee in hand, often a good moose-watching spot. I ended up staying there for about 3 hours enjoying the wildlife & hiking back around the far side of the pond.

    I saw a cow moose with a calf, at first they were across the pond, and I was glad I had the 8x monocular. The cow munched pond vegetation, and the calf followed, not eating much. As they got closer, the calf nursed, which was pretty neat to see. It was born in the spring and quite big already. It had already lost the reddish tinge you see on the younger calves.

    As they approached the boardwalk along the pond where moosewatchers congregate (all other areas are for wildlife only), they disappeared into the woods. A few minutes later a cow came out, but I was unsure if it was the same one. I know deer leave their fawns hidden, but I don't know that moose do this. Anyway, this one got close enough for pictures. On this boardwalk, having been out of touch with all news for 6 days, I learned of the quake in DC and approaching Hurricane Irene, which was forecast to go straight up the Connecticut River, the "east coast" of VT.

    When it moved out of sight, I went further down the pond trail to big rock, where another cow was shoulder deep in the water munching away. She stayed a long time, before coming very close to our rock and then disappearing. Also hanging on the pond were 3 mergansers, really cute ducks. And across the pond a deer and fawn came out. I see a lot of deer at home, so this doesn't sound that exciting, but this was different. The fawn was playing in the pond and running around the doe having fun, almost like a water-loving high-energy puppy would. Really neat to watch, it was just doing it for the fun of it, and to explore its world and growing legs.

    When the wildlife disappeared, I continued around the pond. On a previous trip I had seen a black bear with 2 cubs here, and hoped for a sighting, but I was not that lucky. It was little early in the year for them to move here to eat beech nuts instead of berries.

    At the ranger station, I saw that 3 pages of people had signed the hiking register for Katahdin that day, and as cool as Katahdin is, I was again glad that I was exploring some of the lesser known areas on this trip.

    At my tentsite, I made my oatmeal & blueberries, and packed up my tent, which was now almost dry. The 8 mi back to the south gate was nice, mostl downhill, but I knew I had a big hill after that passing Abol Campground. I debated whether or not to go downhill more to Abol beach, since it is a out and back side road, but decided a swim might be nice, plus if I did this, I would complete the whole tote road and all the bikeable "legs" off of it. I talked to 3 young people on a day trip and they gave me a 1/2 of a delicious turkey sandwich, some chips, and a coke. One kid was from Louisiana and has never seen woods like this; he was as freaked as I would be in the bayou. The fresh sandwich was a treat and gave me some energy for the climb. The swim was short but nice, the lake was deeper than it looked. Most "ponds" in ME would be called lakes elsewhere.

    As I left Abol Pond, a ranger stopped to ask me about my trip, and said they do not see many cyclists, and none as well outfitted, they mostly get a hiking community. This was my observation as well, I had only seen car campers who had their bikes along and went for a ride, nobody overnighting. I also learned that as this was somewhat of a rarity in the park, the rangers were keeping an eye on my progress, etc. Throughout the trip, many people who stopped to talk or ask questions thought this was a great way to see the park. I had to agree!
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    Last edited by mtbxplorer; 09-13-2011 at 06:41 PM.

  76. #76
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    That Blueberry Ledges trail sounds great! I can imagina how it would be one of those places that pictures just can`t capture.

    >Only black bears in ME, so typically not super agressive, but they will get into your food if they have a chance. I did hang my food, but usually just from the lean-to front beam, or in a tree when I tented. For car campers, they tell you to put the food in the car, so I guess it is safe there. It sounds like there are less bear problems now that the park is carry-in/carry out, and there are no campground dumpsters to tempt the bears.<
    Killer bunny jokes aside, we have the same bears here ("black" bears, although not always black), but they apparently behave differently. Where they remain wild, not much trouble, but when they get accustomed to Yogi and Booboo methods, they`ve been known to rip open trunks of cars in search of tasty smelling morsels. In areas where large bear populations and large people populations coincide, there are now usually bear boxes and super duty garbage dumpsters. In less travelled bear country, hanging smellies in bags is recomended. We always did that when I was in the Boy Scouts, but lately I`ve gotten lazy- just take all my food, toothpaste, trash, etc in one bag and leave it a hundred feet or so from where I`m camped, usually hung just enough to keep rodents out of it. No racoon problems here except in isolated city neighborhoods.


    >I chose the Thai meal with the shortest simmer time (<5mins I believe) to be more confident of success. The noodles got plenty soft and it didn't really matter if the sauce was a bit thinner than if simmered. If those beans are no good, they still have Fantastic beans here in 1 supermarket & the food coop...let me know if you need a care package.<
    Thank you! My order came in and I tried them out yesterday. Santa Fe brand isn`t quite as tasty as Fantastic, but close enough. And the instructions DO say to simmer, but I did it VT-Thai style and it worked like that

    > ....and you know you are in northern ME when the town line markers start to say T3 R9 instead of an actual town name. The "unorganized territories" are just numbered, mostly on a grid pattern, as in "township 3, range 9" on the sign.<
    Far out!

    >As I left Abol Pond, a ranger stopped to ask me about my trip, and said they do not see many cyclists, and none as well outfitted, they mostly get a hiking community. This was my observation as well, I had only seen car campers who had their bikes along and went for a ride, nobody overnighting. I also learned that as this was somewhat of a rarity in the park, the rangers were keeping an eye on my progress, etc. Throughout the trip, many people who stopped to talk or ask questions thought this was a great way to see the park. I had to agree!<
    Interresting. It`s absolutely beautiful, no doubt, and you obviously had a marvelous trip while managing to get most of your transporation in by bike. Still, all those places where you have to either leave your bike or "portage" it .xx miles to the campsite sound like a PITA to me. Maybe I`m just lazy? Any rate, I`d probably be more tempted to just backpack the whole thing. But then, hiking miles of driveable and rideable road from one stop to the next would leve me frustrated. Good thing you have patience!

    PS: I`m glad you included pictures of the lean-tos. They look like a great idea and I`ve never seen anything similar around my stompin` grounds.

  77. #77
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    Day 8

    After the moosewatching at Sandy Stream Pond & oatmeal back at Roaring Brook campground, I packed up & moved on to my last stop. This took me about a 20 mile pedal from the easternmost leg of the tote road, back to the south gate, and north to Daicy Pond, where I had another wilderness cabin, this one right on the lakeshore. Along the way I saw another moose at stump pond and a photographer showed me great pics of a fox family playing at my destintion (sadly, I did not see them there myself). Upon arrival at the cabin, I lightened the bike and I rode just 3.5 mi to my car and kayak that I'd left at Kidney Pond at the beginning of the trip. Then I drove back over to Daicy so I could paddle there, and to have it for the drive home tomorrow. As an added plus, the beer in my cooler (a Coleman xtreme that started out with 4 blocks of ice) in the car was still cold enough to enjoy.

    Daicey Pond was the first non-mountaintop location in the park where I got a cell signal (small repeater antenna on the ranger station), so I called home to check in after going for a nice paddle around Daicey, with great views of Katahdin.
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    Last edited by mtbxplorer; 09-22-2011 at 01:43 PM.

  78. #78
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    Day 9 - the end

    I awoke to a beautiful foggy morning on the pond, and the sad reality of my trip ending, and driving 7 hours or so home. But first, some more exploring. I paddled across Daicy Pond and did some more hiking from there. A mink-like critter swam by my cabin, but I did not get a good pic. Another pond loop with fairly easy walking and nice vistas. By now my camera battery was really struggling, I had been nursing it and my Ipod along with my Solio solar charger, but that was short on juice as well, so I only got a few pics. I had decided early on not to use juice for the GPS, and only used that on some hikes, not on the tote road where I had a sheet of the mileages between landmarks (I "waterproofed" it with packing tape and that worked great). A regular old bikecomputer would have worked well for tracking overall mileage and distance to the next campground,but I never got around to digging one up and putting it on.

    After the hike (& paddle back) I was considering another hike to some falls for a dip, but the clouds came in, making that less desirable, and I also started calculating what time I'd get home if I stayed too long. So I loaded up the boat, the bike was already on the car, and I headed home. I took a pic driving thru Millinocket, the paper mill (now closed) town about 20 mi from the park, dropped a couple postcards in the mail, and grabbed a delicious burger at the Wagon Wheel in Mexico, ME on the way home, the kind of local place where you can barely read the sign anymore. The first drops of tropical storm Irene fell as I pulled into my driveway.
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  79. #79
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    Some first trip! Nice memories. Thanks for the glimpse.

    BrianMc

  80. #80
    a lazy pedaler
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    Quote Originally Posted by BrianMc View Post
    Some first trip!
    yeah!

    thanks again for sharing xplorer... great scenery!

  81. #81
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    A park with its own house beer? Dang!

  82. #82
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    ^^It's from a new cans-only microbrewery many hours south in Lewiston. A homebrewing friend mentioned them before I left & I got some on the way to try.

  83. #83
    Wierdo
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    Thanks for sharing your adventure - I really enjoyed reading along with the photos!

  84. #84
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    Inspiring stuff

    I did my first bikepacking trip at the weekend. Kit was all new to me so kept it local. Had amazing weather for it and woke up to this:


    Then Had Coffee:


    And finished the day crossing the Greenwhich Meridian line, an awesome experience and bigger and bolder bikepacking trips will follow:


    Full write up and more pics (including some of the all important bike setup) on my blog HERE

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