Glamping, Northwoods style, on spectacular Fish Pond in Jackman

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Fellow adventurers Bill and Mary Bausch were among the group who camped together last week up near Jackman, Maine. Bill’s panoramic photo above captures the spirit of aptly-named Fish Pond, where we had a small campground all to ourselves, for five days and nights of campfires, swimming, berry picking, and more.

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The crew (from left) were Phil Blomquist, Mary Berger, Bill and Mary Bausch, Dad, Linda Blomquist, Kathy Buhl, plus me and Mom, who was staying in a cabin on Big Wood Pond

“40 degrees in the ME woods yesterday as we woke!” Mary Bausch wrote after arriving safely home. “The crackling fire Phil started @5 got us up out of our sleeping bags and into the hot coffee, chocolate and oatmeal (with fixins). Three hours from here to there doesn’t take into account the 30+ minutes it takes to get out from the campsite on 13 miles of a dusty dirt – dodging the huge trucks hauling – logging road! But well worth the hazardous road to get to this lovely campsite on Fish Pond, connected to Spencer Lake. We did two long paddles to fab lunch sites on the local lakes, enjoyed an actual fish fry one evening thanks to the avid fisher people with us! Our fare was clearly gourmet – “glampingly” so, since we had our cars near our tents, plenty of coolers. Finally ran out of ice and paper towels this morning. Not much of a hardship. And we saw TWO whole moose(s) across our Fish Pond. Altogether a successful adventure.”

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Up early to welcome the sun on our first morning
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Mary Berger wets a fly in the cove by our campsite
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This chair was one of many perks that would never come along on a river trip
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Almost ready to paddle island-studded, mountain-ringed Attean Pond
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Yoga? – No, Kathy trying to entice a gray jay closer to camp
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One morning, Phil discovered a stowaway in his kayak, peeking out from behind the foam in the bow. After being evicted, the tiny gray shrew swam valiantly (and safely) to shore.
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The “before” photo: Dad starting out on a solo adventure, a two-night trip down 14 miles of the NFCT, starting in this tiny inlet to Fish Pond and ending on Spencer Stream near Grand Falls

Continuing his quest to section-paddle the Northern Forest Canoe Trail, Dad brought along portage wheels and a pole and set off to tackle both lakes, plus the rapids and rock gardens of Little Spencer and Spencer Streams. On his first morning, camped below Spencer Lake,  a party of fisherman came by just after dawn and included Dad in their stream-side bacon and egg breakfast. That may have been the high point of what turned out to be a challenging day of climbing endlessly in and out of the boat on slippery rocks. Dad made it, though, and was waiting as planned when I arrived to pick him up.

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The “after” photo: A broken bone in Dad’s right hand and a new story to tell around the campfire

How quickly life can change! Instead of an August trip down the Allagash Wilderness Waterway, Dad and I will be finding lots to keep us entertained at home. Right now we are in the midst of a grand family reunion, with cousins, aunts and uncle, kids, and dogs. There’s nothing as sweet as gathering with loved ones in the glorious Maine summer!

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Day 38: Fish Pond campground to Sally Mt. Beach campsite on Attean Pond (18.1 miles)

When I look back over today, the words that come to mind are “photos” and “exhaustion.”  

On my camera (not this phone) are lots of great memories from this day of walking six miles of logging roads and paddling a spectacular route along the Moose River and across Attean Pond…flowers, ripe raspberries that drastically slowed my progress, a laid back frog, and some massive glacial erratics.  I love that phrase, “glacial erratics,” God’s punctuation on a river of immense beauty.  So look for those soon on a blog post near you.

Pickerel weed at the hand carry to my campsite

 

The inlet at the top of Fish Pond really does exist and it even held Moose #2 of the trip!

 

A memorial to a World War II POW camp that stood on this site near Fish Pond, in front of the camp’s oven for baking bread. The portage route passes by here on Hardscrabble Road.

Time to finish writing for today, but I will be happy to hear news of Sydney and Marji, whose new wheels broke yesterday on the long portage!  Help was on the way and I hope it arrived.  I was too exhausted to reach Jackman, particularly with towering, black clouds and the rumble of thunder.  Found a nice empty site at Sally Mt. Beach, safe from the severe line of storms that came through during the night. 

TOTAL MILES: 534.9

Day 37: Start of Spencer Stream and Grand Falls Hut to Fish Pond campground site #5 (13.8 miles)

 

Family togetherness at the Grand Falls Hut
 
For four years, I’ve been saying, “I paddled all of Maine except for seven miles, the upstream part on Spencer and Little Spencer Streams.”  This was the day to finally meet the challenge of the hardest stretch in Maine and I was ready, waving goodbye to Taylor as he headed back to Virginia.

Selfie at the confluence of Spencer and Little Spencer Streams…I am finally meeting the challenge!

PADDLER’S NOTE:  As with the South Branch of the Dead River, I took detailed notes.  The ascent of both streams, a distance of 7.0 miles, took me 6 hours and 20 minutes.  Water levels must have been in my favor, because I did not have to unload my boat at all, nor lift over any dams.

The first and last miles required the most and slipperiest walking.  My GPS showed 2.4 miles and 2 hours to the confluence of the two streams.  Every mile had intermittent portions that could be paddled, for anywhere from 35 to 300 paddle strokes.  The easiest mile or more was around Parker and Parker Bog Brooks.

Enough notes!  As I was tucked up under a ferny, licheny, brownish-gray wall of rock, enjoying Sarah’s no-bake chocolate, peanut butter, oatmeal cookie, I heard a soft squeal.  I looked up into the eyes of a moose…the first of my trip…on dreaded Little Spencer Stream, no less.  She puzzled me out, then settled comfortably for a while, until I said softly, “I won’t hurt you.  I’m going to go and leave this place to you.”  But when I moved, she faded into the brush.  

PADDLER’S NOTE: I easily found the portage (to take you around the dam without ascending a rock cliff) at the top of Middle Deadwater just below the rapids.  The aluminum boat was there as promised, as well as a green canoe.  After a short carry up a smooth trail, it was wheelable the rest of the way to Spencer Lake.

By then I was exhausted, but a tail wind pushed me along up to the campground at Fish Pond, where Sydney and Marji later joined me.  We had the campground to ourselves, although the one on Spencer Lake had been full.  Went to bed quite content.

TOTAL MILES: 516.8