Sled/Polk Trails

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I think that the xc ski-through of BSP from Matagamon Gate to Abol Bridge via South Branch Pond, Russell Pond, and Roaring Brook is one of the finest winter xc ski trips in the Northeast. I was lucky to join a VftT group organized by arm at the end of February 2012, but almost missed the show with radiator problems south of East Millinocket on my way north. Arm posted a trip report here at the time if someone more skilled than I am at searching can post the link.

Fortunately, I was able to get the radiator repair made and arrive at Matagamon Gate a day late for my solo ski to South Branch where I met up with MtnPa and someone else (maybe go?), who had turned around on a counterclockwise Traveler Loop that arm and the others completed on snowshoes later that afternoon. On my arrival MtnPa immediately commented on the PVC pieces on my sled harness attachment, which he predicted would give me problems in the days ahead.

The next two nights were spent at Russell Pond and Roaring Brook, with the first and last legs easy, but the middle leg between Russell and Roaring hard because of sketchy crossing of Wassataquoik Stream, which was melting out, and the gnarly twists, turns, ups, and downs through deep hillside gullies to the south. MtnPa (R.I.P.) and I got a head start out of Russell, which was a good thing, as we were the only two to get across the collapsing snow bridges on Wassataquoik Stream, which required those behind us to wade. Then a bit later was when my sled harness PVC pieces shattered in the gullies, which fortunately I was able to piece together with duct tape thanks to MtnPa, who also always had my back on PVSART where we were founding members.

After this trip, I took Frodo’s lead in building a new sled harness system with 3/8” metal electrical conduit bent into a long U-shape and lashed to the head of my $20 orange plastic sled. My sled has never flipped with this system, which I think is a far superior design to those that have two long pieces of whatever material that cross one another between the sled and harness as seen in the photos on the ADK pulk thread. However, the key with any sled is to keep the center of gravity low, which is easier to do with a longer sled. I use a cheap woven blue hardware store tarp to wrap the contents in the sled, much the same way that we do with our litter and Sked patients on SAR missions. The tarp also comes in handy for covering the opening of a lean-to, where I prefer to sleep instead of the overheated cabins. Finally, I pack a lot of my sled gear inside a large backpack, just in case I need to switch to backpacking mode should something bad happen to the sled.

Anyway, sorry to ramble, but I cannot recommend the BSP xc ski trip and Frodo's sled design highly enough. In contrast, I cannot recommend pulling a sled through the Pemi Wilderness, which is a morass of blow downs and hard enough to navigate with just a light pack on ski-through day trips. We xc skied the Pemi from Zealand Road to Lincoln Woods just about every winter between 1985 and 2017 via either Thoreau Falls (21 miles) or Shoal Pond (23 miles) Trails. The trip became more difficult after the bridges were removed and the winter snowpack dissolved.
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