Four brave men explore the depths of the Maine’s Great North Woods, or at least a small mosquito-infested clump of it.
Who needs weekends? It has taken me almost 7 years of retirement to realize that I can schedule excursions and adventures during the week. This past Tuesday at 5:40 AM, my mates Pat, Dave and Hank hefted a couple of handmade cedar and canvas canoes to the top of my Voyager and departed Lincolnville for points due north.
On hour later our first stop was superb, at Dysart’s truck stop , where “Breakfast is served 24 hours a day with your choice of 4 kinds of homemade bread toast!” I chose Daisy’s Baked Beans instead of home fries with my 3 egg Greek omelet.
Then it was motoring straight up I-95 to the Medway exit, through the almost defunct East Millinocket, then the equally delaminating Millinocket and onto the Golden Road, a private pathway that extends from Millinocket all the way to the Canadian border. Our rich experience there was limited to poking along no faster than 35 mph while we dodged massive ruts, axle busting craters, and sealed up the windows to avoid the 30 miles of choking dust at the end.
Eventually had to pause at the Caribou Checkpoint, register, and cough up $82 for toll use of the road ( it’s private) and camping fees for the group.
After unloading at the Lobster Trip Boat Launch lot , we put in at 11:00 am, where we hit the real world of the Maine backwoods where we were greeted by choking clouds of buzzing, ravenous mosquitoes, who would be our constant companions for the next 4 days of outdoor life.
The two canoes swallowed up the loads of gear easily, and we meandered along the 1 mile of Lobster Stream, entered the Lake itself and headed across Shallow Bay to Ogden Point, where we snagged a superb campsite along a sand spit that jutted out into the breezes. View Larger Map
We unloaded the canoes, set up two tents, and immediately proceeded to engage in our main campsite activity for the next three days, which was tending fires, which was to be our only hope for dealing with the biting swarming, mosquitoes.
We were continually stoking the fire ring with grasses, wet conifer needles, and leaves, and entered the world of the permanent smudge fires.
Later we resorted to swimming to relieve sliminess, and also to escape the bugs. Ah, the pure enchantment of the aftermath that comes from conquering the dread of cold water on your bare skin. What can compare than bathing off the grime and sweat of a humid warm day, in the surroundings of clear lake water in a giant bathtub surrounded by black mountains?
Pat prepared a supper of grilled chicken legs, and assorted garden vegetables.
For dessert he roasted fresh apples, raisins, and spices. Hank contributed part of an aerosol can of whipped cream.
Pat shared a dramatic rendering concerning the apparent the lack of engagement of many “outdoor enthusiasts” in actually setting foot in the outdoors. Pat and his 5 man band of outlaw brothers hail from New Jersey, which explains why he is fully capable of immediately stepping in for the wildly successful, but unfortunately dead, shopping channel pitch man Billy Mays.
Maybe part of the low numbers here had something to do with the cloying humidity and rain?
Hank was instrumental in purchasing and improvising a rain tarp that we successfully deployed over out picnic table.
The boys tried some fishing off the point, but it was really just an excuse for them to get out into the wind and escape the biting flies.
The fishing remained unproductive for the extent of the trip.
The background noise for the whole weekend was the incessant high pitched whine of mosquitoes.
Our first day at camp was truly an exercise in carrying out skills associated with and the appreciation of unstructured hours of hanging out in the wilderness.