The reward of a thing well done is to have done it.

There was a mistake in today’s New York Times.  The town of Kingfield, ME was profiled in the Havens section, page D5.  And, by the way, the sleepy hamlet of Kingfield, Maine  will no longer be a “… good little secret.”
I won’t  bother to send in  the correction about the Trail.  The article states that “The Appalachian Trail crosses over Bigelow and Sugarloaf Mountains…” I know it doesn’t cross over Sugarloaf.  It skirts the summit a particularly  grueling quarter of a mile from the top and I am not sure there is even a location on the Trail called Bigelow Mountain.  I’ve been there recently, and the writer apparently hasn’t .  The Times fact checker missed this one, thank God.
Nevertheless, I have been thinking about that area a bit recently,  after reading a  public relations message disguised as a feature article entitled  “Trekking the Backcountry” in Downeast Magazine about the opening of the first of what will be a dozen $600,000 “backcountry huts” on the Maine Huts and Trails initiative. You can read the piece yourself by clicking the link above. What is so ironic about the project is that it has evolved in so quietly, fueled by private funding, and if it reaches fruition, may dramatically alter the number of people that access the western Maine woods.  I have been looking closely at a map of Phase 1, which extends from Route 27/Rt.16  just below the drive in entrance to the Bigelow Preserve all the way to the West Forks on Rt. 201.  It only crosses the AT once in that section, at the east end of Flagstaff Lake. It is essentially  flat, with the only elevation gain in this section the 600′ climb from Rt. 27 up to the new Poplar Stream Falls Hut.  If you are not a member, it will cost you $80 a night to stay there, but you get a bed with linens, etc. and three squares. There is space for 42 people, but apparently they can start making a profit in 5 years if they only fill it a third.
I have some questions.  Since this path is private, can anyone walk on it and just camp where they want, following the general back country rules ?  Can anyone leave their vehicles  at the Trailheads?    Are they going to charge to use their trails?  I would definitely like to check it out, but since I like to camp outside in my tent or hammock will want to pass on the package deal.  Will they allow just buying meals if you go past one of these huts?

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