National Trails Day

I love Baxter State Park.

I signed up to work at Baxter State Park for National Trails Day, Saturday,  June 6.  I had a lot to do the day before , so left the house at 4:45 Saturday AM in order to grab some breakfast and some coffees on the road and report at 8 AM for work at Katahdin Stream Campground .  The deal is that in exchange for working all day, you are allowed to camp for free in Baxter Friday and also Saturday nights.  I have volunteered for this before and hoped  to take a hike on Sunday.

The 12 volunteers were joined by the regular trail crew and the lead ranger.  There were 20 people working on two different jobs.

In the morning we worked on a new section of trail that went from Daicey Pond out to the Perimeter Road just  across the entrance to Katahdin Stream Campground.  The Park has petitioned the Appalachian Trail Conference to make this new trail  into the AT, which would cut out an existing AT road walk.  We were given saws and  loppers and had to cut back the overgrown brush, clearing the edges of the path one arm’s length into the woods.  Then we each had to pile up the brush and haul it into the woods an place the brush pilesin low spots away from the line of sight.  Took all morning, although we took a buggy break at Grassy Pond which had some wind to keep the black flies at bay.

Bug nets and hard hats
Bug nets and hard hats

In the afternoon, we drove down to Abol Campground where the task was to clean out waterbars all the way up to the Abol Slide area.  Here we worked in groups of three.  One of us had a mattock, one a ” potato rake”, and I was the one in my group with a shovel.  We received instruction in how to clean them out. It is a job that needs to be done every couple of years, as these drainage ditches tend to fill with silt, leaves, pine needles, and sticks that eventually causes the water to run straight down the trail instead of being diverted off into the woods.

Safety talk
Safety talk

Here is a shot of the other two guys on my crew mucking out a waterbar. We took out the rock.

Waterbar detail
Waterbar detail

We finished at about 4 PM.  The deal was that we would be treated to a barbeque supper as appreciation for our work.  This meant driving again, this time down to the Abol Narrows administrative lean-to’s, where we were offered camping spaces for the night, if we wanted them.  It was a really decent barbeque, with chicken, hot dogs, burgers, salads of all types, chips, dips, and sodas.

I decided to stay the night, but it was supposed to rain and it was really thick with mosquitoes, so I decided to set my Tarptent up in a lean-to, and pack up dry in the morning.  The bugs were so bad people didn’t hang around. We were done eating by 6:15 , when everyone cleared out except for me and two other parties that each took their own lean-to’s.  I ended up giving two other volunteers that I knew,  Barbara and Bill Bentley,  a $35 check as my membership in Friends of Baxter State Park.  Bill gave me a 2009 Baxter photo calendar as a free gift.  Even thought it was only 6:30 PM, I had no problem hanging out in my tent , listening to music on my iPod, and reading a bit.  When I shut off the music I was lulled to sleep by the satisfaction of hearing the high pitched whine of hundreds of mosquitoes pouncing against the OUTSIDE of my tent screening.  I had high hopes that it would be clear enough in the morning for a hike up to Mount Katahdin.

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