Roaming around BSP

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Super Moderator
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Sep 3, 2003
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Gorham NH
Jazzbo from VFTT contacted me a month ago if I wanted to make a run up to BSP with him. I had looked at some options earlier in the summer and the place was pretty booked out plus there were many stories of folks having to call the office multiple times to get a reservations clerk. Due to Covid, many reservations, including back country had to be made via phone. Ray was proposing post Labor Day and when I checked it looked like there were plenty of spaces open. He booked the Bunkhouse at Nesowadnehunk. Covid restrictions limited the bunkhouse to one party only. It was last minute trip for many but one of my long term friends, Steve, joined up so had plenty of room. One note is the park charges the full rate for the bunkhouse rather than a per head rate so renting the bunkhouse is not a cheap option ($130 a night) compared to leantos or campsites. Presumably that will go away once the Covid restrictions are past.

The drive up on Sunday was uneventful, Steve was coming from Western Mass so we had no plans to get hike in before we headed up to the bunkhouse. The tote road was in excellent shape with evidence of a lot of recent drainage work on the sides of the road. I was surprised as at one point in the early late seventies there was legal action to prevent the tote road from being "improved". This ditch work was also in place in areas of the road north of the Marston Trail. While driving the tote road, Abol and KSC looked like they were not full. Foster field had one out of threes site occupied. In general the park was quiet. We were in the park from Sunday to Wednesday so we missed the weekend post labor day booms. This is nothing new, the post Labor Day weeks of September have always been quiet despite being some of the nicest weather to visit. No bugs, cool nights and cool days.

This was the first time using the new bunkhouse at Nesowadnehunk Field. The park has been replacing and rebuilding bunkhouses for a decade plus and the Nesowadnehunk bunkhouse is a nice example. Probably quite busy with 8 but plenty of room for 3. The solar powered interior lights are a nice upgrade. The only major odd design choice is the covered front porch. The depth is about 4' short to hold the picnic table that is installed on it. The table just fits but really not enough room to work around it. I think they would be far better off removing the tables and putting some rocker chairs. The other general oddity it that BSP just seems to have an aversion to drilling holes in new walls for pegs. Various parties have rigged drying lines in the building but installing pegs on the walls would substantially improve space utilization. Valuable floor space gets taken up by gear that could be hung. They could be added later so maybe someday such radical things as wooden pegs could be retrofitted;)

We didn't have any aggressive hike plans, Jazzbo needed Mt Coe so the first day was the Marston Loop. It was cool but decidedly windy, probably not a great day for a Katahdin summit but plenty of views way off to the horizon. The summits were building up clouds on occasion but it was mostly clear. This was the first time for all to climb the Coe slide. I had descended it once on a October day in the nineties with a coat of melting ice. (It was decidedly a dicey proposition with no traction). We popped out on the summit of Coe for Jazzbo's long delayed 100 highest list completion. After a long break we headed over to South Brother. I had done the Marston Slide several years ago and had bushwhacked up from the top of the slide so a side goal was to find the former trail connection with the current loop. We did find the sign that I believe was at the top of the former trail which now has no good reason to exist but I did not find it (but didnt spend a long time looking for it). After a long break on top of South Brother we headed over to the the junction with the North Brother trail stopping along the way to saw up a blowdown or two . We heard a chainsaw over on North Brother. There was a sign warning hikers that BSP was doing trail repairs. While at the junction a couple came down the trail. The commented that the trail was still in abysmal condition, an eroded ditch with water flowing down it. The trail crew was installing a water bar but it does not sound like the start of the much delayed major relocation and reconstruction of the spur. We skipped the spur and had an uneventful return to the trailhead.

The next day was Doubletop from the North. it was cool and breezy but sunny. We cut a few blowdowns on the way up and quickly arrived at the North Summit. At some point the old fire tower ladder propped up against the boulder neat the summit is going to need a new tree to lean against as the current one is long dead and will soon fall over. After a short break we went over to the South Summit and had great views. At one point we were joined by a hiker we had met the day before on Mt Coe and later by a few VFTT alumni from the Pemi Valley Hikers (a Facebook group). We got back fairly early and I had to make a run into town to get a replacement for nearly new leaky air mattress. On the way back I picked up four thru hikers just north of Abol Campground. They were hiking back to KSC and one of them had cell phone desperately searching for signal as they needed to call their shuttle. It worked out, when I dropped them off at KSC their shuttle was waiting.

Our last hiking day was a wet one. We did the trip to the Falls on AT south of Daicey and then Steve and I made loop of the new AT from Daicey to KSC and then back via the former AT route and the tote road. Its about 4.5 miles and under cover. Its pleasant walking past several ponds. The rain varied from a drizzle to occasional downbursts. We did consider stretching the hike but a few rumbles of thunder helped us to decide to head back to Daicey Pond campground where Jazzbo was checking out the decidedly dated library and a few of the cabins. I dont know if I won him over with my convention that Daicey is a better campground than Kidney;)

It was an early day but we headed up to Nesowadnehunk Field and took a leisurely time cooking supper. The rain cleared over night and by morning the sun was out. My friend and I had to head back but Ray decided to head out the North Gate and check out future spots to visit. My friend and I are both soon to retire so we considered this a scouting trip for future visits.

It was a low key visit but confirmed that mid weeks in September after Labor Day lived up to their reputation of the best time to visit the park. On our two hikes we saw few people. No worry about dogs and finding a place to park.
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I agree, Roaring Brook does seem to be an older attempt. I think the new bunkhouse at Chimney is much larger than the Nesowadnehunk Field bunkhouse.
In hind sight I think the Neso BH was a bit cramped with the picnic table. That picnic table takes up literally 25% of the front room. Add in the woodstove and I'm thinking the front room at Neso BH would be pretty cramped quarters with more than 4 people. The picnic table on porch is oversized and not very useful. Either porch is too small or picnic table is too big.

I stopped at South Branch Campground on way home with a view to possible use as base camp for Traveler Loop. I'd stopped there before 11 years ago. Very pretty location with blend of tent and lean-to sites. SB Campground bunkhouse has two bunkrooms with much larger front room. Since PB started this thread, here's snapshot of him looking like the intrepid outdoorsman that he is.


Here is a choice shot of PB and Steve starting descent off South Brother with fine view of Doubletop as a backdrop.


Here is photo of PB and Steve doing public service blowdown removal. I helped toss stuff off the trail as well.


Here is a choice shot I took of Doubletop knife-edge


This must be Rolling Rock and friend on big rock on Doubletop. Nice to have met you guys!

Thanks for the great photography and getting the bunkhouse booked.

I agree that the bunkhouse would be decidedly crowded at the full capacity of eight. Even with the interior picnic table pushed up against the front wall it would be quite close to the wood stove. My guess is it would be tough to sit on the bench facing the stove with the wood stove cranking. I would trade off some depth in the bunk room for some in the main room.

The other improvement would be an interior vent near the ridgepole with a chain or lever from below to operate it. Its not needed as much in warm weather but in cold weather with a lot of wet/icy gear, having a roof vent would be handy to get the water vapor out of the building. Windows can be opened but a building will ventilate much easier with a vent up high.
Some of the books on the shelves at the Daicey Pond library have original "York's Camps" stamps.
Sounds like you had a good visit!
"I dont know if I won him over with my convention that Daicey is a better campground than Kidney;)"

Peakbagger, I'd love to read your persuasive essay on the Daicey vs. Kidney campgrounds :)

I'm hooked...
Sounds like a great trip guys, and very nice pics too. You two are studly doing Coe one day and Doubletop the next. Way to go!

I've used South Branch cabin for a winter ski traverse from Matagamon to Abol Bridge. I think we had a group of six and it was quite comfortable.

Re Daicey vs Kidney: The one time I used Kidney in winter the mile in from the Tote Road was unbroken pow. After sled hauling from Abol Bridge that was an unhappy way to end the day.

I think Daicey sees more ranger action in winter via snow machine so its approach road might be more likely broken out.
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