Driving into the wild lands proved almost as exciting as the rest of the adventure. As I leave the last glimpse of the civilized world in passing the Kokadjo Trading Post, and trade pavement for dirt, my adrenaline begins to rise. The bumpy and winding roads take me a good 25 miles into the heart of the forest, with views of remote lakes and mountains. The occasional bird or rabbit darts out before me. Every so often, I am reduced to crawl speed to navigate a particularly tricky area in which the road has been partially washed away, or a recently downed tree has blocked half the road.
After almost an hour of navigating windy dirt road by truck, I reach my destination, Fourth Debsconeag Lake. The weather proves beautiful, and Autumn is present in the colored leaves. I strap on my backpack and begin my journey down the Debsconeag Backcountry Loop.
|Hikers in this area are greeted by stunning streams and waterfalls|
I have chosen to bear right at the first fork, to head in the direction of Stink Pond and some of the farthest stretches of this back country. As I walk past Fifth Debsconeag Lake, I realize that this would be a great place to bring a fishing pole. I have not brought my fishing gear. My plans were for some great hiking, wildlife views, and solitude. It now hits me that I will be circling several hidden lakes and ponds, as well as crossing a few nice rivers. In fact, the translations for these places from the language of the Abenaki Tribe is "plenty of fish lake" and "ponds at the high place". I am sure the fishing would be incredible here.
|A red squirrel poses at the first fork|
The woods here, I noticed, are very green with mosses. It gives it such a lush appearance. It makes for a striking image at this time of year, with the contrast of the Fall colors. Dark, vivid green of mosses and pine, dotted with leaves of bright red, yellow, and orange. I could paint canvas for years and never quite capture the beauty the natural world has set before my eyes.
|One of many stream crossings|
|Claw marks on bark|
|Jo Mary Mountain and Furrar Mountain in the distance|
Fixing the view on my target, I am happy to say that I was correct, and that I was now watching a female moose, or "cow moose", in her most natural habitat! I watch for some time, as she grazes, and looks around, then returns to the marshy water she stands in. What a sight! I wait for a bull moose to come, which would be inevitable, but I could only wait so long, there's many miles to be covered, and I was more than content with what I have witnessed.
Reaching the other side of the gap, I begin to climb again, reaching views this time of the beginnings of a mountain I will be climbing on this trip, Nesuntabunt Mountain. The slopes are lit with Autumn colors.
The next morning arrives suddenly with the realization I had overslept a bit. The cloudiness, paired with being deep in a valley, kept the sky somewhat dark and was the cause of my not waking. I don't mind the clouds, since the forecast had been for rain and currently it was just clouds with no rain.
Expecting rain at some point, however, inspired me to pack my gear and head out without much haste. leaving the Debsconeag Back Country Trail, I cross a bridge to take the 3/4 mile West Trail.
The West Trail is a short but exciting trail, quick ups and downs, as I pass huge glacial boulders that teeter on edges, dripping with various shades of green mosses and lichens. Toward the end of this trail is Rainbow Stream, a fast moving, shallow yet wide vein of mountain water. There is no bridge, so I begin to ford the river. It is fairly shallow with a few large rocks to step on, so I leave my boots and socks on and head across. Well, it turns out my waterproof boots aren't so waterproof anymore, as I feel my wool socks sponge and I cringe as the ice cold water hits my skin.
I come out at a jeep road, and I sit at a bridge to change out my soaked socks for dry ones. Crossing the bridge, I come to the entrance of a section of the Appalachian Trail. I begin down it, heading Southbound.
|White blazes mark the Appalachian Trail|
As I look down into the Pollywog Gorge, I am reminded of that. The forces of water and wind have set forth and shaped this land into a wide variety of amazing landscapes. And here I peer into a fine example of this.
|My view, or lack there of, from the summit|
As finished as I am, there is a part of me that never wants to leave. There is that part of me that loves the back country so, that is driven by the curiosity, the beauty, and the challenges. I feel something special out here. A drive. There is so much for me to learn, to see, and to experience.
At the least, I know I get to come home and relive my journey through word. As I type this, i feel that flame burn warm inside. Many passions of my life come together, and I embrace it.
And I know, when the burdons of life bring my internal blaze back down to flickering embers, I will return to the wild again.
To learn more about the Debsconeag Back Country area, visit http://www.maine.gov/cgi-bin/online/doc/parksearch/search_name.pl?state_park=&historic_site=&public_reserved_land=60&shared_use_trails=&option=search
To learn more about the Abenaki language, you may visit http://www.cowasuck.org/language/language.htm