Frozen waters and cold hands; or, Oh Maine, how I love thee…

I feel like there’s a lot we need to catch up on. First, hello! I am here in a surprise shelter on the IAT, some few days south of the Maine-New Brunswick border.

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It’s a surprise shelter because I didn’t know it existed until I talked to a couple local ATV riders, who told me about it while I was quietly choking. I don’t think my lungs like the cold, so we’re mostly just coughing a lot, drinking tea, and scaring the locals and my sister… Sorry, fam.

I’ve been watching the precipitation forecasts with delight- it’s just cold enough that my water only freezes at night if I don’t let it lie under my sleeping bag, but not during the day, and also most of our rain falls as frozen precipitation, so the only damp in my life is the condensation on my sleeping bag when I don’t pitch my tent and sleep on the ground because I like ground. It’ll get down to about 21 again tonight, with a few inches of snow in the forecast. I’m sleeping with my winter bag open like a quilt, and my (currently extraneous) down liner open underneath it. Don’t fret, ye wee bairns, ye won’t be extraneous for too long. Alas. Luckily I spent all my birthdays wishing for snow in sweet, sweet Southern climes. Now, it’s like the day that could have been my birthday, except every day! Yay.

There’s too much, so mostly I’m just going to throw pictures at you, because I like them. Happy pictures day. First, I got north and climbed Katahdin with a friend:

…Then went to Millinocket and plotted out a course. There is currently no connection between Katahdin and the southernmost IAT trailhead. I had a friend to take me between them, but it’s a very long walk over roads out in the country. (The ranger in BSP hesitated to give a mileage; she said they’re working on a workaround, but there’s nothing so far. Fines are what’ll happen if you try to walk the closed trail that used to connect the two, unfortunately.)

Also, the current IAT hits a road walk north of the recently established Katahdin Woods and Waters Nat’l Monument, a little in, which will eventually be rerouted through further south, nearer to Sugarloaf Mt, which is a promontory about 1700 (I forget, wasn’t counting) ft high… It also happens to be the mountain on which Robert Neuman discovered fossils of similar origin to the ones on mountains in Ireland and Wales (edit: Thanks for the fact check, Don) and essentially clinched the theory of continental drift. Geology. Anyways, road walking aside, once Don told me about it, I wanted to go find it. So we got on trail…

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…forded this really flipping cold river…

ate warm food, slept, hiked north,

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and then eventually turned east (at Bowlin Camps) and headed over old woods/logging roads and ATV trails to go find this mountain, planning to eventually rejoin the established IAT at Shin Pond. The trail I took follows roads I’m pointing at below, though one of those photos is of a snowmobile/ATV(?) trail map that I found at an intersection south of Bear Mountain. It really came in handy, because it was anybody’s guess on the “unmaintained/sometimes logging roads,” whether they were clear or overgrown by wee feisty alder sprouts. The roads labelled on the map were all very cleared (a couple others were passable). Anyways, ITS 85 runs clear across from Bowlin Camps to Wapiti/Shin Pond, so following those signs will take you down a good trail.

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This was really going to be longer, but it’s cold and my electronics are quietly dying. More stories later. Here are some pictures, for your joy and delight! Guys, it is so beautiful out here. There are so many things I’ve never seen before.

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Please stay well, and have a wonderful week!

Sail

7 thoughts on “Frozen waters and cold hands; or, Oh Maine, how I love thee…

    • The connection was closed when the Loop Road was built four years ago in what is now the national monument. That road brings cars too close to an area in Baxter managed particularly as semi-Wilderness with limited camping.

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  1. Smithsonian and USGS geologist Robert Neuman is the geologist who found those nifty little brachiopod fossils on Sugarloaf in the 1950s, and his paper on the subject—confirming that the same bivalves could be found as fossils in similar rocks in Wales and Ireland—tipped the balance to the wide acceptance of continental drift as a defining process for shaping the face of the Earth through time. Bill Duffy would be honored to be mistaken for Bob Neuman, I’m sure, as no single geologist has done more to understand and explain the geologic history of this special corner of Maine.

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