Self-Propelled Journal: August 16-17 Debsconeag to Nahmakanta

View from High Camp on Fourth Debsconeag Lake

August 16

We had a long bike ride scheduled for today – over 25 miles from West Branch Pond Camps to Fourth Debsconeag Lake and the Chewonki Foundations’ set of camps there. So the rain pounding on the camp roof at 6:00 am was not a good omen.

A blueberry pancake breakfast with Eric Strimling, (our host and owner of the camps), in the camp kitchen made us feel better, but did nothing to improve the weather. A good, hard continuous rain fall right through our morning packing ritual.  We waited briefly, hoping a let-up, but then resigned ourselves to the day.

Eric’s suggested route north to the Nahmakanta Public Land Unit was ideal – lots of rolling terrain, wildlife and little or no traffic.  But the weather was a relentless downpour and the biking was not much fun.

We made it to Debsconeag Wilderness Camp by mid-afternoon. A hot shower, coffee and cake from the dining hall, and then a nap in front of a wood fire in High Camp – passed the time until Claire and Grace arrived at dinner time. The rain finally let up.

High Camp

These camps are yet another set of old sporting camps rescued by a non-profit organization. The Chewonki Foundation of Wiscasset purchased the property four years ago and made improvements to set up a summer outdoor adventure camp for girls.  In the late summer and off-season they rent to the public.

It’s good to be with the whole family again for dinner.   Tomorrow is  a transition day after a ride north to Nahmakanta Lake.

August 17

Things will begin to slow down now.  The next few days will be a solo hike from here on Nahmakanta Lake to the south side of Baxter State Park.

The trip from here forward involves only one more gear change from hiking to canoeing. I said goodbye to the mountain bike today after peddling 12 miles from Fourth Debsconeag Lake to Nahmakanta Camps here at the north end of Nahmakanta Lake.

On the road to Nahmakanta Lake – the last leg with the mountain bike.

Claire and the kids followed by car and retrieved my bike to return home – leaving me with my backpack and a ton of gear to stuff inside for the next hiking leg of the trip.  I won’t see them again until I arrive in Fort Kent on Labor Day.  For me, this is the hardest part of the trip.

Tonight I am the guest of Don and Angel Hibbs here at Nahmakanta Lake Camps. This may well be one of the top 5 most beautiful spots in Maine. Surrounded by conservation land, the camps look south along the length of the lake from a gravel beach at its northern tip.  Nesuntabunt Mountain and the Appalachian Trail line the Western shore.

I first came here a decade ago for the spring trout fishing in the lake and the surrounding remote ponds. Don and Angel have made vast improvements in the property since then.  Showers and flush toilets have civilized the experience – but the remote charm of the place cannot be dulled by modern amenities.

Tomorrow is scheduled as an off day – designed to packing and recuperation before starting the hike.  But I’m restless and anxious to get started. The weather may dictate the decision.  It was clear and sunny all day but is now completely overcast.



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About jimandrews

Jim Andrews is an attorney, Registered Maine Guide, writer, husband, dad and sixth-generation Mainer who grew up in the hills of Oxford County and now lives in Farmington. He is a monthly columnist for the The Maine Sportsman magazine where he focuses on muscle-powered travel in the outdoors and specific applications to fishing and hunting in Maine. Late in the fall of 2010 Jim suffered a mid-life crisis and decided that the cure would be a self-propelled trip from Kittery to Fort Kent in the summer of 2012. The preparation, planning and execution of that trip will be covered here -- as well as his own ongoing attempts to reintroduce physical effort back into the increasingly-motorized world of fishing and hunting in Maine. Find Self-propelled on Facebook: