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Thread: Russell Pond, Davis Pond, Hamlin Peak (and Ridge) Loop (BSP)

  1. #1
    Senior Member SherpaKroto's Avatar
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    Russell Pond, Davis Pond, Hamlin Peak (and Ridge) Loop (BSP)

    Part 1:
    I had wanted to do this trip for the past 5 years, and never quite got the reservations that I needed (namely Davis Pond Leanto) to pull it off. I was finally lucky enough to snag the last remaining weekend date between June and early October. I rang up the usual suspects, and we were to be 4 for the loop. Unfortunately (for Arm), one had to drop out at the last minute - too late to extend the invite to many others.

    Friday, 6/18: Dave was real good at enlightening me in the wisdom of an early exit to Maine (a very welcome decision when the time came!). I finally put in enough extra hours to leave at noon, meeting them in Portsmouth at 1:00. Michelle was gracious enough to drive up (and Dave back), so I got a nice rest on the way. We hit the Park at 6:30 after a nice "breakfast" at the AT Cafe. Not 5 miles in we saw a bear in the road - sweet! Checked in and had some fun banter with Bill Snow (BSP Ranger at Roaring Brook. Quite a character). Back to set up tents at Avalanche Field (again Dave made sense with tent placement away from the road and the dust), had a brew, campfire, and readied for bed. It immediately started to rain, and did so most of the night.

    Saturday, 6/19: Up early made sense, so I got up as soon as it stopped raining, packed the tent and ate breakfast. Skies didn't look particularly menacing or good. We knew we'd get wet, so last piece of gear in the pack was the rain jacket. We got everything ready, drove to Roaring Brook and were on trail at 7:18. We started on the Russell Pond Trail for 100 yards, then headed off on the Sandy Stream Pond Trail for 1.4 miles. Sandy Stream Pond is well known for it's Moose sightings, so we figured it was worth the side trip. No moose, but a nice deer, and a dismal view of the North Basin and then some ominous clouds to the east. Yeah, we were going to get wet but were having a blast! Along the way, we ran into a birder from California who was "bagging" some new varieties. He seemed as happy as we were - different strokes for different folks. We reached the Russell Pond trail again in no time after rounding the Pond, and headed north, first passing Whidden Pond, and then reaching the Wassataquoik Stream trail in 2.2 miles (3.7 total). When we talked to Bill at the RB Office, he recommended this trail, particularly if it was wet. I can't thank him enough for the recommendation. This was one beautiful trail, following the Wass. Stream for much of its length. It is flat, wide, and the footing wonderful. I commented to Michelle that the footing was so nice that I could actually look around as I hiked (more on that later). There are many nice views (I suspect) from the stream, but we had to be satisfied with the stream itself. By that time it had started to rain off and on (sometimes quite hard). Probably saved a bit on stimulus overload as it is a beautiful stream! After virtually no elevation gain, we reached the 2 Wassataquoik Leantos at 2.5 miles (6.2 total) at 10:42, slightly sooner than I had guessed. The South and Main branches of the Wassataquoik converge here at a large pool in a nice open forest, with the leantos directly on the shore. About this time I was regretting my decision to leave my Flyrod behind . Oh well, another excuse to return! I stayed at the leantos for a few minutes taking a few pictures of Dave and Michelle fording the stream. Then it was my turn. No hope to keep the shoes dry unless I took them off. Since it was only a few miles more, I opted (as we all did) to ford with them on, up to my knees in cold, but not chilling water. Michelle and Dave were up the hill enjoying my turn at getting wet(ter). Then off we went again. Remember my "so smooth you can look around" comment? It came back to bite me - badly. I was walking on a nice flat section when I felt my foot slip on a root, and couldn't recover. As I fell, I felt something snap and was sure that my ankle was broken. Thoughts of my recent bad luck went through my mind, as did my trip plans. Before I even thought of putting any weight on it (no odd bone angles - thankfully), I had worked out plan A, B and C. A was head out. B was continue to Russell, and C was to get Dave to apply first one, then a second kill shot. I settled on Plan B, and hoped for the best. Michelle was concerned, but all I wanted to do was get moving, and it was one of the worst 1.5 miles I've done. I didn't want to stop, but was not moving at anything resembling a normal hiking pace (or gait). It's rather interesting to walk on puncheons crossing streams when you can't trust both feet. Sort of like a sideways crab shuffle. We reached the Russell Pond trail after another 1.4 miles on Wass. Stream (total 7.6), after passing through the remains of New City (and our only hikers of the trip so far), and saw that it was "only" .4 to Russell Pond. I could do that. Russell Pond looked like the Promised Land when we got there. I wasn't ready for the 320 foot AnkleKnocker Bridge (puncheons), but took it in stride (ok, limp). I got to the leanto (why is it always the last one?), filled Dave in, dropped gear, and headed to the office to check in. Roger Seamans, a heck of a nice guy to chat with, was on. I went over our original plans for bushwhacking Fort the next day (not me though), and headed back to settle in. It was not long before the first of our many Moose visits started. We heard splashing almost in front of our leanto, and sure enough a young bull was chomping away. Tame is an understatement. I think he was out to watch us! This continued for our entire stay at Russell Pond, a spot I will definitely return to. Around 4:30, the black flies came to pay us a visit. Michelle and Dave had wisely taken a light screened backpack tent and set it up in our leanto. I figured, ok, it rained all night and day - I'll find wood and start a fire. Russell Pond is a large campground, and foraging for wood is not that easy. I walked (limped) about 800 feet (in my newfound flip flops!) until I found a nice downed, rotten birch. That would have to do, so I dragged it back, sawed it, found a small dead hemlock, sawed that, lit it and prayed. Smoke, flame then lots of smoke, most of it of course, in the leanto (at least no more bugs). Finally ate, watched the fishermen, moose, sunset, and slept. 8 miles in ~5 leisurely hours (just about book time for those interested).

    -continued on part 2-
    Last edited by SherpaKroto; 06-26-2004 at 03:40 PM.

  2. #2
    Senior Member SherpaKroto's Avatar
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    Part 2:
    Sunday, 6/20: Got up, tested, then duct taped the ankle, and pronounced myself ready. Sure. Michelle wished me Happy Father's Day (Thank You!) and I headed off on the Northwest Basin Trail at 9:30 with Dave and Michelle following shortly after. Felt pretty good considering and we crossed the Turner Deadwater then were off up the old Wassataquoik Tote Road passing what we later found out was the start of the former North Peaks trail on the way. As we hiked we had occasional views of Fort Mountain on the right and Russell on the left. We reached Annis Brook at 11:00, and I was still feeling good enough to consider the Fort bushwhack. Dave was smarter than I was and didn't want to tackle it then. I'm sure that more than a little bit of that was for my benefit. It's good to have friends who look after you. We set off again, and it was soon apparent that the nice easy walk was over. Though never steep, the footing was awkward and I found myself repositioning my feet many times, a slow, tiring process. The trail mostly follows the Wassataquoik, with 2 crossings, the second extremely tough I'd imagine at high water. For us, it was just a mild delay, as the water was low. We made this crossing (3.6 miles) at 12:15, and I knew I was slowing down. The views of the cliffs that we were passing did little to speed me up as I caught myself gazing upward at beautiful walls of rock, some rising nearly 1500 feet! I told Michelle and Dave that I was fine, but would take my time, so they pushed on. Around 4.5 miles in, the trail changes abruptly. I named this the "log flume ride" section. For the next couple of hundred feet, you go steeply up smooth rock in a brook bed (Lake Cowles outlet stream). With pack. And bad ankle. For me, it was basically a crawl, but thankfully I got to the top and reached Lake Cowles with North Brother, Fort and Mullen Mountain on one side and the Northwest Basin bathed in sunshine on the other. Many pictures later, I was off for the final few tenths to Davis Pond Shelter, passing the only hikers I'd seen all day headed to Pogy Pond. I finally reached the shelter at 2:58, 5.2 miles in a tortuous 5.5 hours. But I was there, and it was worth it. Davis Pond leanto is nestled in a small tree covered hollow at the bottom of the Northwest Basin. It is as close to wilderness as you can get in the Northeast. Yell? who cares - there is no one to hear you. Waterfalls fall from the 1000 foot cliffs easily over 100 feet. We ate, walked back up to the sheepback and watched the sun slowly set over North Brother and Fort, retreating as we decided that all of our clothes were still no comfort. Dave took the opportunity to scout the trail up the ridge. Yelling across to us when he got there (in literally no time!). Michelle was so convinced that she could see him that she convinced me too. That is until his voice kept moving, but "he" didn't . I headed down to the Pond (after sitting on the Thundergod's Throne for a spell) and sat on the shoreline for over an hour before settling in, watching the shadows change on the Basin walls high above me. I could not imagine being any place better at that moment. The rain started and I sat for a bit longer listening to the sounds it made as it hit the water and trees around me, enjoying the peace, but knowing it would make tomorrow's hike harder. I finally decided it was time for bed, and got there as the skies opened up.

    Monday, 6/21: Got up just after dawn and went back to sit at the water's edge for awhile. It had rained most of the night, and everything was wet. A truly fine way to start my summer! Weather was cool, so hiking in full rain gear would be relatively comfortable. I took my time, not really wanting to leave such a great spot. If you've been to Chimney Pond, picture it with no people, and you'll get the idea. I finally was off at 6:18, knowing full well that I had a steep climb ahead of me. Ankle felt no better, no worse than yesterday, so I was relieved. It was no more than .1 miles before the climb began. and did it ever. The next .25 miles gain about 500 feet vertical, and 1500 feet in 1.2 miles from the leanto. It was not long before I decided the rain jacket was coming off. Then rain pants. Heck, why stop there, take everything off and celebrate nude hiking day (which I did, for 10 feet, but not before hearing Dave shout from very far below). I got my shorts and t-shirt on and continued upward. Dave and Michelle reached me just below treeline, at what I thought was about 3700 feet at about 8:15 (it was more like 4000). It was now clouding over and the ceiling was dropping right on top of us with the wind about 20 mph, so overall, a nice hiking day. I figured that we had a long ways to go to reach the NW Plateau, but 35 minutes later (counting a 10 minutes rest) we were standing on NW Peak at 4401 feet (1.2 miles). I still felt good, and somehow almost stayed with them to Caribou Spring (I said almost, and I know they had really slowed their pace). We reached Caribou Spring (dry!) at 9:30 (1.0 miles, 2.2 total), munched, took a few pictures, and set off the .2 to Hamlin Peak after a brief discussion by Dave and Michelle about the Knife Edge. I hope they didn't stick to Hamlin Ridge on my account, but the weather was not ideal for the Knife Edge with full packs. We reached Hamlin Peak summit (.2 miles, 2.4 total) at 9:50, and it was just as it was the last time I was there: dark and dreary. At least this time we weren't being chased by T-Storms! We took our mandatory summit photos, and set off down the Hamlin Ridge trail. I felt ok for awhile, but soon the steepness and rocks started getting the better of me. I did not trust putting all my weight on my right foot unless it was firmly planted on the ground. I felt my pace slow to a crawl and told them I was fine, and would take it slow, but Dave kept saying "we entered as a team, we leave as a team", good naturedly, and I was thinking only half serious. Sometimes you don't always appreciate it at the time, so, thanks Neighbor! Needless to say, my pace did not improve prompting Neighbor to say jokingly "it's 10:43, you'll be at Chimney at 1:43!". I optimistically said noon and limped on. We had some real nice views developing as we dropped below the ceiling and Pamola made an appearance, as did the Knife Edge and eventually Baxter Peak for the briefest of moments. I never sped up, but thoroughly enjoyed the views I was getting. The last time I was on this trail I had to outrun the storms with my buddy Tony. I was amazed that we did as I descended this time. Too much time, and too many pictures later, we passed our first hikers, 2 guys from NJ. I initially thought their comments a bit elitist "we only hit the above treeline stuff" and as they lefe they made one last comment about the alpine plants, and how much they loved them. (We met them the next day at the AT Cafe and it all made sense - these guys are serious plant hounds! They were headed to Acadia on the way home to pick up some rare plants that they had seen while there before coming up to BSP. Taken in that context, the prior day's conversation made a lot of sense, and I admired their passion). I finally made it to the North Basin trail at 12:15 (1.3 miles, 3.7 total), bruised and battered, but nearly home. After a 15 minute break, we opted to head left .2 miles on the North Basin trail to the North Basin cutoff. This was not the best route as it was a lot rougher than Michelle remembered it (no complaints though) and at 1:10 (.7 miles, 4.7 total) I was on the Chimney Pond Trail. I headed down to Basin Pond and decided I'd take a nice rest at the log bridge. Sat quietly, munched a bit of GORP, and just enjoyed that peaceful setting. I'd been at that spot 3 previous times, and have very fond memories from those trips, taking both of my children to Katadin's Baxter summit on separate trips. I could hear Dave and Michelle on the other side of the Pond but heard nothing as I reached it. Looking up, it was too good to pass up another opportunity to sit and savor. I finally decided that I'd better get moving before they got worried, decided to pump my water for the next day and sit again for 15 minutes when I reached 1 mile bridge, and headed out, reaching Roaring Brook at 2:58 (2.3 miles, 7 total). Our 3 day loop had covered 20.2 miles across some wonderful wilderness and over Maine's second highest mountain. I was beat. Time to head to the leanto, but not before we decided to move to Abol as it would be a better spot to head up to Marston Trail for Dave and Michelle. We settled in and took 2 leantos as they were all open! We hit the worst of BSP fabled black flies at this point, causing me to eat with my bug net over all but my mouth, gloves on, adn cuffs tucked in socks. And I still got bit! I tend to like to sit up, so after that I built a nice fire, had a few beers, and hit the sack after 11. Ahhhh....

    -continued on part 3-
    Last edited by SherpaKroto; 06-25-2004 at 09:45 AM.

  3. #3
    Senior Member SherpaKroto's Avatar
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    Part 3:
    Tuesday, 6/22: None of us seemed overly motivated for a tough day. Michelle and I both had to work early on Wednesday, so we headed off to Daicey. I wanted to see the Niagara Falls, and Michelle and Dave hadn't decided what they wanted to do (they went canoeing). Off I went at 8:55, with thoughts of hitting the falls and coming back by 11. This is a nice easy hike and I was there in no time, first taking in Toll Dam, then Little, and finally Big Niagara. I was not disappointed. Very little effort to a nice place to grab a snack. I enjoyed Big Niagara for while, and finally headed back deciding that I had ample time to hit the Nature Trail around Daicey Pond. Again, I was way ahead of my guess (amazing what a flat trail with a light pack can do for your ego!), so I went around and was awed at the views of Doubletop (my favorite BSP summit so far), Squaw's Bosum, O-J-I with Coe peaking over it's shoulder, Barren Mtn, and finally Katahdin itself. As I walked, a couple in kayakers were alongside me so it was funny talking to them while I hiked and they paddled. Anyone taking bets on who was having more fun would surely have lost as ties go to the house All too soon, I could see cars in the parking lot, and this little 4 mile hike was over before I knew it. The mental benefit was immeasurable.

    A fantastic weekend hike with 2 good friends to one of my favorite places on earth. Ankle? What ankle?

    I have tons of pics, and will get to them ASAP. For now, here is a teaser. The Valley we hiked to get to Davis Pond.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Turnbill's Avatar
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    Great report Sherp! I did the reverse of your trip about 15 years ago and have always wanted to do it again. Wish I could of joined you guys.
    Turnbill
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  5. #5
    Member burg's Avatar
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    Great trip report Sherpa! You are right, I do need to get up the and schlep around for a few days. Too bad you could not enjoy it fully. Looking forward to the pics.
    Happy hikin'--
    burg

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    Senior Member Gris's Avatar
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    Hmmmm, this reminds me of an extended, much longer version of another trip of suffering earlier this month - only the roles were reversed this time - HA!

  7. #7
    Senior Member Papa Bear's Avatar
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    Great trip. I'm jealous (actually I'm not as you know where I was).

    What was the story on your ankle? Break? Sprain? tear? How long to recover?

    Pb
    Pb

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  8. #8
    Jim W
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    Great report. I'll be doing a similar hike in September, so it's good to have such an accurate first-hand description of the trails.
    Until then, hmmmm let's see....oh ya, I'm going to Baxter State Park tomorrow!!!!! Yeeha.
    Three nights at Roaring Brook.
    I promise, though, no naked hiking for me. (but maybe some naked swimming)

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    Senior Member trailbiscuit's Avatar
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    That's a great loop! We did the reverse a couple years ago! Russell Pond is one of my favorite spots...Davis Pond is truly amazing!

    Bummer about the ankle. Heal fast!
    "You must go and you must ramble through every briar and bramble till your life is in a shambles. Maybe then you will know. You were born to blunder, born to wander, born to wonder. Even when you’re six feet under, there’s a place that you must go." - John Hiatt

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    Senior Member Michelle's Avatar
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    That was one beauty of a trip, the pictures just don't do it justice. Thanks again Sherp for all your hard work planning, it was waaay worth it!

  11. #11
    Senior Member SherpaKroto's Avatar
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    Yeah, it was great The scenery on this trip was incredible. It's always fun hiking with Post'RBoy and Michelle, and I was definitely looked after. I think I owe them both a few summits (well, at least we got Hamlin). In any event, we did the loop we originally set out to do, and I was thrilled to be able to do that!

    I'm swamped at work (10:21 and I'm still working) but promise to get the better pics online ASAP.

    Ankle is not so good, but haven't had the time to have it looked at. I'd do it again in a minute though. I'm walking on it, but it felt a lot better on the hike (and it felt lousy then). I'm getting tired of these little physical setbacks though...

  12. #12
    Senior Member Blue's Avatar
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    Sherpa -

    Only someone with a great attitude like yours would hurt their ankle and make it through the trip!

    Hope you get some rest so you'll be in good shape for the LT.


    p.s. watch out for that rock, tree, branch!
    "I once met a man with a sense of adventure,
    He was dressed to thrill wherever he went,
    He said, 'let's make love on a mountain top,
    under the stars on a big hard rock.'
    I said, 'In these shoes? I don't think so.'
    I said, 'Honey, let's do it here.'" -K. Maccoll

  13. #13
    Senior Member SherpaKroto's Avatar
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    I added my pictures HERE

  14. #14
    Member burg's Avatar
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    Nice pics Sherpa. What a place!
    Happy hikin'--
    burg

  15. #15
    Senior Member Gris's Avatar
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    Talking

    OK, that does it! BSP iz on my short list. Esp since i'm a wanderer & not a pkbgr kinda guy...

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