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Thread: Maine, Baxter: Russell Pond, Davis Pond, Hamlin Peak Loop?

  1. #1
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    Question Maine, Baxter: Russell Pond, Davis Pond, Hamlin Peak Loop?

    Hello,
    I'm interested in gaining information on this loop trip which I read about in a book. Seems like a nice trip with a lot of variety. Here are my concerns and questions...

    (Trip outline for July: Day 1, Start at Roaring Brook Campground to Russell Pond Camp. Day 2, Northwest Basin Trail to Davis Pond Camp. Day 3, Continue over Hamlin Peak back to Roaring Brook Campground.)

    1. It seems like there are a lot of brook crossings on this trip. Are these dangerous, i.e: deep, fast running water? It seems like there is a knee deep crossing on the Russel Pond Trail, then another tough crossing at Wassataquoik Stream on the Northwest Basin Trail. What are some of your experiences with these crossings? And is it better to take the Wassataquoik Trail in wet weather?

    2. What are the climbs like on this route? Especially the climb to Davis Pond and the climb up and down Hamlin Peak. I will be doing this trip with my fiancee, we are experienced backpackers, but I don't want her to call off the wedding if the trip kicks her butt, ha!

    3. What are the campsites like on this trip? We like to pitch a tent rather than stay in a lean-to. I know Russell Pond has some tent sites. Does Davis Pond have tent sites or do you need to stay in the lean-to?

    4. Any other advice/experiences anyone can give me about this trip would be wonderful.

    Thanks,
    Josh

  2. #2
    Senior Member Raymond's Avatar
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    I think you have to stay in the lean-to at Davis Pond, and you have to have a reservation for the night you want to be there, and if somebody else already has a reservation for that night you're out of luck.

    Makes it tough if the weather makes you want to change your plans. (A few thunderstorms will make river crossings dangerous.)

    I thought it was the same situation for Russell Pond, ’though there are more lean-tos there. I haven't been out there since 1993, and I don't recall any tent sites, but either way I'm pretty sure you'll need a reservation.
    Last edited by Raymond; 04-26-2005 at 06:49 AM.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Waumbek's Avatar
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    Let's start with #3 first, reservations, the sine qua non for any trip to BSP. It's not a drop-in, FCFS kind of place. To give you an idea, a bunch of diehards camped out at Park Headquarters in Millinocket, Maine in mid-January to be first in line to get reservations for summer when the 2005 season opened. There are, of coutse, still many opportunities to reserve sites at BSP, and this year the opening day grab was limited to a lower % of the total than in the past. But you really have to do your research before you trek all the way up to BSP if you want to be sure to get what you want. Study the BSP website first and take a look at the reservation policies for summer 2005. We could debate the pros and cons of this system, and there are both, but you have to know what it is and live with it or risk being disappointed when you get there w/o reservations in the height of the rather short BSP summer season.

  4. #4
    Senior Member spencer's Avatar
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    There's always something available if you are flexible about your itinerary. If this is your first trip to BSP and you want to hit the usual spots, then I'd say don't go without a reservation or you will be disappointed.

    If you just want to enjoy the wonders all over the park, head on up this way and have a blast!

    If you are going the reservation route, it's a good idea to call them and ask about availability and then send your reservation request in the minute you hang up (they don't take reservations on the phone, or internet, but they will tell you what is available at the moment you called).

    You cannot tent at Davis Pond.

    I haven't climbed Hamlin via Davis Pond, but the hike down to Chimney from there (or down Hunt or Abol for that matter) is about as rugged as any other boulder stepping is. It's not difficult, but your knees will feel it. Heading down Hamlin Ridge has views of the Chimney, Chimney Pond and the Knife Edge that are not to be missed...

    Have fun!

    spencer

  5. #5
    Senior Member Rik's Avatar
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    Just to add. Russell Pond does have tent sites. I loved Hamlin Ridge. And the stream crossings between Russell Pond and Roaring Brook were not too bad even after a night of hard rain when I was there. YMMV

  6. #6
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    1. How deep/fast the crossings are depend on when you go and what the weather has been/is like. The water rises quickly after a rainstorm, also goes down quickly. A normal rain season, trip in August, most crossing would be knee deep or less. I usually choose the Tracy Horse trail to Russell Pond for a number of reasons - it's more scenic, the footing is good at the Wassataquoik crossing, and I drop my pack and do the trail to Grand Falls before heading to camp at Russell. The crossing over to Davis has boulders and is trickier with what seems like faster water. The good thing is the crossings are all short.

    Last August, Dry Brook on the Chimney Pond Trail - which is normally dry (hence the name) - was chest deep on the Friday before a trip. BSP called and said we couldn't go. Next day, BSP called and said we were a go - Dry Brook was only waist deep. First time I ever stayed at Chimney Pond when we had the whole place to ourselves.

    2. The hike up from Davis to Hamlin is quite like the Chimney Pond trail as far as effort is concerned, though the trail has less boulders. Like Spencer said, coming down any trail into the basins of Katahdin is tough with a full pack, but it's done all the time. Enjoy the tablelands as it's a beautiful and flat area. Day 3 could be a hard day - if you really want to impress your fiance add a Day 4 at Chimney Pond for a pleasant end the trip with a short hike down the next day.

    3. Davis Pond has one lean-to and you can only reserve for one night per trip there. No tenting, but you can set up tents inside lean-tos in BSP. No campfires allowed at Davis or Chimney Pond. Russell Pond has tent and lean-to sites, also bunkhouse.

    4. Be prepared to spend an extra night or change your itinerary. You can always ask the ranger at Russell Pond what is available in the area if you decide not to go to Davis. It's a $15 transfer fee if you do change.

    Enjoy! The area is gorgeous.
    Last edited by twigeater; 04-26-2005 at 09:06 AM.

  7. #7
    Senior Member truepatriot09's Avatar
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    i've heard that there really is no backpacking in BSP, that you have to stay at their campgrounds. Is this true? Seems like a shame considering you can't get much more remote in a state park than Baxter, yet you are required to stay in campgrounds that are a buzzkill to the wilderness experience. I suppose it helps to preserve the park, but still...

    so, is this true?
    I love big dumps.

  8. #8
    Senior Member spencer's Avatar
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    Yes it's true. I wouldn't associate the word buzzkill with anything in the park, though.

    except for maybe those folks that drive too fast on the tote rd.

    spencer

  9. #9
    Senior Member Stan's Avatar
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    Reservations especially during the week, are probably still possible because under the new reservation system, a maximum of 20% of reservations were to be made on "opening day", a first working day of the year custom that I've enjoyed on a number of occasions, and the balance made on a rolling basis four months before the dates of your reservation.

    Russell Pond has a number of leantos and tentsites but I wouldn't classify the remaining facilities in the areas as "campgrounds". There are three 4-person leantos and a cabin (on an island) along the Wassataquiok Trail and a 4-person leanto on the Davis Trail. You'll need a car spot if you go out the Wassataquoik Trail and there is a campground (Nesowednehunk) when you get to the Tote Road.

    The regulations and reservations associated with these facilities can be complicated but, in my opinion, well worth the effort. It is an absolutely beautiful area and the Park has done a great job of managing the demand to get in there.

  10. #10
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    BTW, you werent specific on your return trail from Hamlin to Russel Pond. Be aware that the Northern Peaks trail ( the logical route) was closed a couple of years ago. You can bushwhack it but it is reported to have a long section of intense blowdown.

  11. #11
    Senior Member SherpaKroto's Avatar
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    What I did. Feel free to eMail me if you need more specifics. It is an incredibly beautiful trip, fractured foot/tibia and torn ligaments not withstanding

    Davis Pond Loop
    You'll need to read a bit to get down to the Picture link. The pictures are worth it, and hopefully you'll find something useful in the trip erport

  12. #12
    Senior Member Stan's Avatar
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    Great pictures, Sherpa. If Josh isn't convinced to do this trip yet, I don't know what else we can say or do.

    Perhaps we should be discouraging hikers from going there instead ... I'd like to get reservations for later this summer!

    By the way, that one river crossing, shown as knee deep in Sherpa's photos I think, can be avoided by following the trail on the west side of the river instead of crossing.

  13. #13
    Senior Member Artex's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by truepatriot09
    i've heard that there really is no backpacking in BSP, that you have to stay at their campgrounds. Is this true? Seems like a shame considering you can't get much more remote in a state park than Baxter, yet you are required to stay in campgrounds that are a buzzkill to the wilderness experience. I suppose it helps to preserve the park, but still...

    so, is this true?
    I agree with Spencer... I'd add that because they're pretty strict at limiting the amount of people in the park, it remains very pristine. As a result, you're practically guaranteed an awesome experience, so staying at one of the designated camp areas matters little, IMO.

  14. #14
    Senior Member SherpaKroto's Avatar
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    There are more than a few remote campsites in BSP. Additionally, Russell Pond may be a "campground", but it is still at least a 7.5 mile hike to get there. Sounds like backpacking to me.

  15. #15
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    The overnight capacity is limited to I think 1,000 people, and that number is not allowed to increase. So if a new site pops up it means a site was discontinued somewhere else.
    There are lots of remote sites if you look at the map. It's very relaxing to know that there is a reserved site waiting for you each night - you can get there when you get there. I've spent a week at a time backpacking there and not stayed in the same place more than one night unless I wanted to.

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