Canoeing and Hiking at Donnell Ponds Public Lands

I finally got around to exploring the mountains and waters Donnell Pond Public Lands for three days over this past Labor Day Weekend.   This is the first combo canoeing/hiking adventure that I’ve taken in several years.  My shoulders have just not been able to handle the paddling, but things worked out this time, due to the linted water travel involved.

Big canoe- compact car

This summer has been a bit of a bust in Maine due to the almost unrelenting humidity and heat, but now that September and cooler weather has rolled around, I am again interested in exploring the best of what Maine has to offer.

From the Natural Resources Council of Maine web site: “The Donnell Pond Public Reserved Land unit includes mountains, pristine lakes, and remote ponds all spread out over 14,000 acres in eastern Maine. There are sites for camping along the pond’s beaches, and great options for those who enjoy paddling. The land included in the unit has grown over the years to reach this expansive size with the help of different conservation groups and generous private landowners.”

For those of you who are not familiar with Maine’s Public Lands, they are an option to the State parks, and Acadia National Park.  Permits are not required if you use established fire rings, and there are no fees for camping, where you are allowed up to 14 days at one campsite. Leave No Trace practices are encouraged.

Here’s a overview of the DP area ( top of map), located some 12 miles east of Ellsworth:

A bit of history from the DP website:   “No notable Native American archaeological findings have been discovered here. During the nineteenth century, attempts were made to extract gold, silver, and molybdenum from Catherine Mountain with little success. The logging that has long been part of the history in the area continues to this day. Recreation and leisure play prominently in the history of the area. For nearly two hundred years before the advent of refrigeration, ice from Tunk Lake was harvested during the winter and stored in sawdust-filled icehouses for eventual sale and distribution. A lakeside fish hatchery on Tunk Lake supplied small “fry” fish for sport fishing until the 1970’s. Wealthy vacationers established an estate on the south end of Tunk Lake in the 1920s. This estate would later end up in the hands of famed Antarctic explorer Admiral Richard E. Byrd and was a recognized historic landmark until it was destroyed by fire in the 1980s.   The land conserved at the Donnell Pond Public Lands was assembled in phases with the assistance of numerous conservation partners-The Nature Conservancy, Maine Coast Heritage Trust, the Land for Maine’s Future Program (which helped to fund more than half the acreage acquired), the Frenchman Bay Conservancy, and private landowners deeply committed to conservation.”

Our campsite on Redmond Beach allowed us to put in a full 9 mile day that took in Caribou and then Black mountains via the Caribou Loop Trail.

Approaching Caribou Mtn. summit
Granite land

Here’s a shot of our campsite.  I’m in the tipi, and my hiking pal Guthook is in The One.

Redmond Beach campsite
Another angle

The next day, we awoke early in order to beat the wind and explored much of the North shore of Donnell Pond, checking out the shoreline for possible campsites for future trips.

From our campsite on Donnell Pond

In my experience, the magic hour for wind picking up in favorable weather on lakes and ponds in Maine is 10 in the morning. It is uncanny.

My Bert Libby canoe

We eventually crossed over to the western side of the pond at the narrowest point where we followed the shoreline to the popular Schoodic Beach, which is more easily accessed by a 0.5 mile trail from the Tunk Lake Road/Route 183 parking area. As we were exploring the shoreline on our way down Schoodic beach we came upon two hikers with fully loaded packs trudging through the water heading for the Beach. We stopped and asked the two girls what was going on and one told us she was a student at Harvard University who came up here with her best friend. On the spur of the moment they drove up from Boston to Donnell Pond to camp on Schoodic Beach. When they experienced the overloaded level of camping and merriment there they had bushwhacked up the shore in order to have privacy and escape the noise. One of the girls had also been greatly distressed by the sight of a snake, so they took to aqua-blazing. They jumped at the chance to hitch a ride back to Schoodic Beach in our canoe. They asked us if there were any other places where they could camp for free Guthook steered them to Camden Hills State Park, where I agreed that they would find a better experience camping on the summit of Bald Rock Mountain in Lincolnville.

Tenzing at Bald Rock Mountain’s summit shelter
Schoodic Beach

We beached the canoe on Schoodic Beach and did a relatively quick hike to the top of Schoodic Mountain, a 1,069′ gem of a walk,  and 3 mile round trip that leads to  excellent views of Frenchman’s Bay and the mountains of Acadia National Park.

Schoodic summit view

Carey Kish’s AMC’s Best Day Hikes Along the Maine Coast book was my best resource for hiking the Tunk Mountain and Hidden Ponds Trail that we were able to fit in the last day of our getaway.

Another resource for exploring the area is ‘s excellent review, complete with video footage:  1-minute hike: Caribou Mountain near Franklin

Kish’s 4.9 mile, 3 hour, and 1,060′ elevation info was spot on, as was the description of the extensive open mountain ledges and far reaching views of the Downeast landscape, and full-on views of the Hidden Ponds.   Sometimes we walked over a rooty path, lending a Tolkienesque quality to the experience:

Where’s Guthook? Hint-blue blaze

It was a kick to see the occasional ATV churning up a cloud of dust on the Downeast Sunrise Trail far below, where I’ve biked and even camped on a few years ago.
The Downeast Sunrise Trail is an 85-mile scenic rail trail running along the coast connecting multiple scenic conservation areas, and providing year round recreation opportunities. It is open to snowmobiles, ATVs, horse-back riders, skiers, hikers, bikers, walkers, and joggers. It passes through several sections of the Donnell Pond Public Lands between Franklin and Cherryfield. Here’s the link to my bike-packing experience on the Sunrise Trail.

Exploring Donnell Ponds Public Lands is a must if you haven’t checked it out.  The foliage should be coloring up soon , which will only add to the experience.

I’ve planned several hiking trips for the next few weeks.  Next up- 5 days of  challenging backpacking in Baxter State Park, including a long hiking day which includes The Traveler Loop.

Stay tuned!

 

I’m Riding My Own Ride, so Don’t Diss Me!

Here is a 3D graphic clip of my most recent Sunday morning mountain bike ride at Ragged Mountain:
Clik it! —>>>https://www.relive.cc/view/1830659825

There are those folks who react to those of us who like to record and review our outdoor adventures by posting disparaging comments like,  “Just ride the damn thing!” ( Implying that it is unnecessary to gather and work with data from program such as Strava, or Fitbit) that might take a pointers from the backpacking community, where ” Hike your own hike! ” is a well-know slogan.  It translates to ” Do your own thing.”

Of course you can just ride !   You can also just walk and forgo the adoption of a technology such as a bicycle to get around in the woods.

It is motivating for me to set yearly performance goals, based on my own baselines. My goals for 2018 are amassing both 1,000 miles in riding my bike and another 1,000  in hiking.  Here’s how I am doing:

Recording rides and hikes keeps me on track- I am not guessing about whether I rode or hiked enough this week.

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Sunday morning members of some of The Bubbas in the Woods. A fine congregation to be part of!

Goal setting, along with cardiac monitoring through technology such as heart rate variability keeps me on track, and out of trouble,  as I age along the path. My yearly physical took place this past week, with the blood work, prostate results, and cardiac markers all very favorable.  Even my previously pathetic Vitamin D level skyrocketed into the outer limits.

Takeaway:

Public communication about fitness goals and progress is consistently supported by science!

Death on the CDT

screenshot.pngvia–>>> Snowbound | Outside Online

Outside Online posted this excellent report, which includes three short Youtube videos taken shortly before the hiker, Stephen Olshansky, perished in 2015 at the end of his southbound thru- hike attempt  in the Southern San Juans in New Mexico.  “Otter” was an experienced long-distance hiker who died on the trail  waiting rescue, despite having adequate food, and using a heated tent.   I can relate to the dangers of that section of the CDT.  In 2013, I was forced to bail out on the “official” CDT and take alternate forest roads in the San Juans in early June due to weather and excessive snow depths.

Otter’s death was similar in one aspect of the death of a hiker named Geraldine Largay, AKA  Inchworm, who died on the Appalachian Trail in the summer of  2013, 26 days after she set up camp.  Both hikers died less than 8 miles away from a highway,  both patiently awaiting rescues that never came.  Both hikers were without their own personal locator beacons.

For more stories of backpackers and day hikers who have fallen into the abyss where they experience multiple unfortunate mistakes in the wrong places and at the wrong times check out these two excellent books: Not Without Peril: 150 Years Of Misadventure On The Presidential Range Of New Hampshire Paperback by Nicholas Howe  and  Desperate Steps: Life, Death, and Choices Made in the Mountains of the Northeast, by Peter Kick.

Since Largay’s death, I’ve been using a satellite based communication device, and  subscribe to the $12 a month charge.

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Garmin InReach Explorer+

It allows me to text messages via sattelite, so now the numerous areas I explore without cell coverage are not a problem.  I’ve started packing  it in my day pack.  Who knows what might happen out there, where age is not our friend ?

As  famous teacher once advised me, “Avert the suffering before it comes” .

Please considering commenting if yu do take the time to read and view the Outside Online material.

Donnell Pond, reserved and picturesque

Check out this excellent report from Josh Christie;  Worth the Trip: Donnell Pond, reserved and picturesque – Portland Press Herald

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Donnell Pond photo from bluewatersgreenforests.wordpress.com

I’ll be pulling my blue cedar/canvas canoe out of storage for a couple nights’ camping next weekend to exploring at one of Maine’s Public Reserved Lands.  There are a few hikes here, covered adequately in Carey Kish’s  AMC’s Best Day Hikes along the Maine Coast: Four-Season Guide to 50 of the Best Trails From the Maine Beaches to Downeast.

I have not canoed for two years, with my last effort in Baxter State Park.   My friend Ivan and I canoed directly north, straight across Katahdin Lake to reach the Twin Ponds Trail.

canoe
Heading out cross Katahdin Lake (2016 photo)

My right shoulder is worn out, even after two surgeries, with an overdue shoulder replacement somewhere on the horizon.  However, it’s been good lately, possibly the result of bi-weekly physical therapy sessions for the past several months.  I decided to take a chance, altering our padding itinerary with backup hikes around Donnell Pond in lieu of a 15 mile paddle exploring the perimeter of the Pond. 

I really enjoy canoeing in the fall, where you can take plenty of gear and food.  Most of the time I am content with my 15 pound of base weight in my backpack. I may take my new Seekoutside tipi on this trip, and maybe even a camp chair to lounge around in.

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February 2018- Blackwoods CG, Acadia NP

My New Book is Free For 3 days!

I’m launching my digital version of my new book with an “offer you can’t refuse” .

In the Path of Young Bulls is free on Amazon Kindle from Friday, August 17th, through Sunday, August 19th!   After that it will be available as a Kindle download  for $3.99.

Just click here:  In the path of Young Bulls:  An Odyssey on America’s Continental Divide Trail to download it to your Kindle device, iPhone, or tablet once you install the free Kindle app.

I hope that you will enjoy the book, which is into its second printing already!   I’d really appreciate it if your would post an Amazon review, even a brief  one.

Thanks to all my supporters over the past several years !

 

Fort Rucker retiree completes Appalachian Trail hike | Enterprise Ledger | dothaneagle.com

016BD7D2-AC64-485B-8D29-98CC0FB4407C.jpegFort Rucker retiree completes Appalachian Trail hike | Enterprise Ledger | dothaneagle.com
— Read on www.dothaneagle.com/enterprise_ledger/fort-rucker-retiree-completes-appalachian-trail-hike/article_46596ad6-9cd4-11e8-8c6f-03561364d72e.amp.html

Well worth a read. I agree that thinking about the Trail doesn’t go away after you are finished hiking.

Great Adventurers – a Reading List via Alastair Humphreys

via Great Adventurers – a Reading List – Alastair Humphreys

I’m on a roll with outdoor reading this summer.  Since January I have been reading at least an hour a day.  I’ve racked up 33 books so far.  Here’s my updated 2018 list:  Goodreads Challenge .

Today I’m posting a different sort of reading list, with a decidedly British emphasis, brought to us by one of my favorite authors, Alistair Humphreys, author of a unique book called Microadventures. 

There’s adventure reading gold to be mined here for sure, so consider Aistair’s list.  There isn’t much time left for summer reading, although winter is coming!

Several of these titles are at my local library, and I plan to pick up this one today:

screenshot 27.pngAre there any really good outdoor adventure books that you can recommend as well?