Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Baxter State Park, Or: My Bug Bite Tramp Stamp

What a weekend! We drove up to the northern part of Baxter State Park, which is FOREVER away from home (like, 6ish hours' drive without traffic!)  Then we hiked in to Russell Pond, which is 9.6 miles from the South Branch Pond entrance. I haven't been backpacking since I was in Girl Scouts...so like 7th grade.  Yikes. Confession: I'm using the same backpack as the last time I went backpacking.  Oops. (Hey REI, wanna sponsor a gear review??  :-D)

So starting from the top.
 Provisions. Pepperoni and hard cheese...The cheddar was decidedly not a "hard" enough cheese, but the parm held up wonderfully and will definitely make a return on the next trip. Bear Creek soups are, hands down, the greatest things ever. We had the chili and the chicken noodle soup for dinners, each with a bag of chicken thrown in. Glorious. Each bag of soup was enough for 2 satisfying meals. The rice never saw the light of day, since it required 25 minutes of simmer time. The dried fruit was home made, and was a big hit. Will definitely be making more of that.
Bisquick shake n pour pancakes have been a camping staple for me since I was a kid. More on these later.

All packed up! I had all the food and the cooking fuel. He had the tent and stove. And each had sleeping bag, clothes, toiletries.
Friday night at Katahdin Lodge. I wish this weren't 6+ hours away, because this place was really fun. They had a drum set and pool table! It's definitely the kind of place that gets rowdy during hunting season. Love it.
Bright and early, adventure hat at the ready!
Driving to the trailhead.
We're here!
Subway cookies = breakfast of champions.
Before. Note 2 flip flops.
Before we hit the trail, happy and clean (and a little cold)!
So right before the happy picture (above) was taken, a ranger had driven up and told us "don't pack your water shoes too far down, since there's a river crossing about a mile in that's about 20 feet across and maybe knee deep on me". As soon as he left, we all turned to each other...water shoes? Ummm...huh. Nick and I had flip flops and the other two (Andrew and Katie) had some sandals from Niagara Falls. That's it.
At first, Nick tried to go in flip flops, but eventually opted to go barefoot.
That water was COLD.
Like, cramps up your feet and makes every step excruciating cold. No bueno.
But, like a champ, he made it across successfully and then proceeded to help the ladies across.
You'll notice in most of these events there are pictures of everyone BUT me. Katie and Andrew took pics too, but I only have mine so you'll have to live without my glowing face for a while. :-)
Andrew got across too.
After the river, the path got crazy steep, and there was a cliff off to the right. It was wet and we were off balance, so this was kind of unsettling. I was SO glad we didn't have Kini with us for this.
South Branch Pond from above.
We followed the Pogy (rhymes with froggy, at least for us) Notch Trail.
Happy couple adventure hat shot!
We were seriously in the woods.
Taking a break.
Swatting bugs, not Katie.
At the next river crossing, I volunteered to go first. Then they found an easier way that didn't involve taking shoes off. Argh.
Crazy growth around a blue marker telling us we were going the right way.
Another creek crossing. There were seriously like 20 creeks to cross.
2/3 the way there!
More forest shots.
Lunch break.
And then this happened.
We all got across, miraculously unharmed and dry.
The second part was more exciting...no holey pants at all!
Andrew's pack was too top heavy so he had to danger walk this log. Eep. There's a picture of me doing all this on the way back.
Almost there!
Blisters! Actually, considering I took the boots out of their box on Friday, I got seriously lucky. I know better than this, but did it anyway.
Somewhere along the trail, Nick lost one flip flop. Just one. It was a cruel joke. He's raking the feng shui back into our campsite here.
The dock by our site. Not too shabby!
Home sweet home. Seriously, REI? Gear review?
Setting up the bear line. Because, you know, if it's not on the ground, bears won't bother.
First little lookout point.
Boys starting fires.
He didn't want to wear boots, but his feet were cold so he wore socks. The camp site was literally that nice.
Making dinner and keeping the bugs off.
Chicken noodle soup...yummmm.
Borrowed Katie's mug to eat from. Oops.
They had real backpacking food...freeze dried shepherd's pie, yum!
Next up, filtering water! I don't think I'd ever done this before, so this was a biggie for me.  This is also where the bug bite tramp stamp came into play. Every time we'd bend over to get water, the bug would have a feast on our newly-exposed lower backs. No bueno. Nick wouldn't take a picture of it for me. He says my readers don't want to see that kind of thing. Do you?
Katahdyn pump, on sale at EMS FTW. Worked like a charm!
It's a little yellow, but tasted fine.
Happy pumping couple.
And then it was the next morning and time for breakfast! The stove had two settings: off and hellfire. The pancakes actually ended up being more deep fried than usual, but you know what? I'm simply not sure why they aren't made this way all the time.
Crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside. Best. Pancakes. Ever.
The artistic shot.
Then we went canoeing around the pond. The park had canoes (and life vests and paddles) available for rent at the site.
At $1 an hour, it was hard to beat.
Plus, there were no bugs on the water.
There also wasn't much to the pond.
There was a rock with some flowers
And some trees.
And that's pretty much it. But we had fun.
And then there was a snake. Ick. We saw a total of 4 of these over the course of the weekend. If I'd gotten one in my pack, I think I would have flipped. Good thing that didn't happen.
We went on a mini hike on Sunday, to this look out. Nick got hold of the camera and this happened.
Happy scenic couple shot.
Back at camp, eating lunch.
Pepperoni stuck in his teeth.
Much better.
We had a pet chipmunk. He liked pepperoni skin.
It started raining so we found a leanto and played cards for a while. Nick brought me a blanket.
We relearned Hearts. Good times.
Fixing the bear string.
The toilet, from our site. Close and wonderful. Seriously guys, I don't do outhouses. I'd rather risk butt-planting in poison ivy than use an outhouse, any day. But this one was VERY well kept, and smelled, no joke, like cinnamon. I made good use of it.
Tried to make a fire, then it rained. But we still managed to make chili over the fire Sunday night, so that's a success.
Look, it's me! In the woods!
Happy couple in the woods!
The end of the dock.
Right before sunset on Sunday. Feel free to use this as your desktop background. I am.
A lot of the paths were covered in this, which only looks safe. It's actually ridiculously treacherous when wet, which it always was.
Walking to go get more water.
Packing up. Would you  believe it's around 5:15 AM in this shot??
Back across the crazy rivers.
I made it!!
Tough Mudder training helped on this one.
Impeccable sense of balance.
Nick had the camera.
Almost home!
Lunch break.
The sun was finally out, and the scenery was GORGEOUS!!
It wasn't cold...I just wanted to keep the bugs off of me.
Happy couple mountain lake shot.
We had to cross this. I was actively in it when I took this picture.
Seriously steep cliffs.
Back across the river.
I almost made it...and then I didn't. I lost my balance and did a squat to compensate. When you're in knee-deep water, squatting translates to sitting in water. Not my favorite. But we were only a mile from the car, so I put on a happy face, hiked my pants up, and told Nick to tell me if I mooned him.
Seriously, gorgeous.
We made it!!!
I need to photoshop these together to make it look like I wasn't taking the picture.
The aftermath. Oy.
Nick wanted a picture of me post-hike. I had to stop poking at blisters and bug bites to make it a pretty one.
Mount Katahdin.
Nick thinks it's gross that I took pictures of my blisters. I'm proud of them. That big one HURT the whole freaking hike, but I didn't complain once. Then I got to watch in fascination as it ballooned on the ride home. Gross, huh?  In addition to that, I have some mild bruising on my collarbone from the pack, and bug bites around my neck. It looks a lot like I spent the weekend being choked.
Natch, we hit traffic on the way home. But it was so, so worth it. What a great weekend.

What'd you do for the long weekend? 
Have you ever been backpacking? When, where, how long? 
Can you walk barefoot on rocks in water? I have a history of not being able to. 


  1. Oh holy crap, I want to go hiking with you. That looks amazing. I love that you had to pack everything in to the campsite, instead of just pulling your car up next to it.

    Pancakes while camping sounds dreaaaaaaaaaaaamy.

    So jealous. It looks like a seriously awesome weekend.

  2. Glad you enjoyed your visit to BSP!
    Really glad you shared the blister pics-that's the good stuff readers look for (right? or is it just me??) Sadly, you did not share the tramp-stamp bug bite pics....
    Nothing epic here-just got the garden planted, tons of yard work and split 4 cords of wood. Such is life in Maine :)
    N0-never been backbacking overnight (only day trips) but it looks fun. Hubby would NEVER do that with me :( booo

  3. Nice! BTW, South Branch Pond during the peak foliage (~1st week of October) is the most beautiful place on earth. But it's a secret; you won't tell anyone, right?