Self-Propelled Journal: August 25 Rough Terrain in Northern Baxter

Fourteen tough miles today – we started hiking early along the campground road to the park tote road.  We then walked south to the trailhead for Wadleigh Brook Trail.

If the trail through Pogy Notch seemed little-used, this one seems almost forgotten.  Blowdowns block the way occasionally and no human footprints mark the soft spots in the trail. Moose tracks are everywhere and clearly show who the predominant users of these trails tend to be. A spruce grouse, within arm’s reach, checked us out thoroughly before letting us pass.

No zoom lens necessary.

This area in the northwest corner of Baxter State Park contains the Scientific Forestry Management Area. It is far from the amenities that surround the park’s star attraction — Katahdin. The SFMA portion of the park works under different rules and logging is permitted here under the supervision of park officials. Hunting is allowed here as well. This was all part of a compromise struck before this area was added officially to the park.

We hiked for what seemed like forever on the Wadleigh Brook Trail until we reached Hudson Pond  – where a nap, a swim and lunch revived us.

A few miles further  on we reach the intersection with the Freezeout Trail – and turn west toward Webster Lake Outlet. The Freezeout Trail is an old logging road along Webster Stream. We found ourselves walking over ancient skid logs laid perpendicular to the trail in corduroy road fashion.  Old telephone wire also lined parts of the trail. Off behind the trees we can hear Webster Stream cascading towards Mattagammon Lake. It’s not hard to imagine that despite the evidence of logging — not much has changed here in over 100 years.

Parts of this trail resembled a bushwhack experience  – finding trail blazes was a challenge. The closer to the outlet of Webster Lake we came, the tougher the hiking got.

But the payoff was a stunning lean-to campsite that was on the beach and looked down the length of Webster Lake. An immediate swim was in order.

Lean-to at Webster Lake.

We appear to have the lake to ourselves – with the exception of a few loons, a barred owl, and osprey and the ususal lean-to resident mice and red squirrels.

A half-moon is rising into a clear sky with a southerly breeze carrying the lake smell into the lean-to. My canoe is here compliments of good friends Peter Broderick and Maureen McCool — who volunteered to transport it from Farmington to park headquarters in Millinocket. From there, Park Director, Jensen Bissell generously arranged to have it trucked and carried to Webster Lake by park personnel. This was a vital cog in the machinery of the entire trip. I’m relieved and grateful to see that everything went as planned.

It’s great to see an old friend.

I’ve been promising Dave a ride in a “real” canoe. He”s never paddled a wood & canvas. Tomorrow we canoe up Webster Lake and then portage up into Telos Lake and the start of the Allagash Wilderness Waterway.


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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: