Sunday, August 18, 2013

Pond-ering Baxter 2013

We returned to Baxter State Park this year for our second Baxter Bash.  It was quite a different event this time.  There were many fewer people (but still a great crowd and many new faces) and the location was changed from Foster Field to Bear Brook.  This gave us the opportunity to do some different exploring than we did our first time.  The weather for the week was fabulous too - the park rangers said it was the best week of the summer.  We got in several fantastic hikes (there will be future posts for those), but just like last year some of the best days were spent wandering around and over the ponds and lakes in the lowlands.  The views from the top may be amazing in Baxter, but those from below can be just as good.

Sandy Stream Pond - Take 1

One of the advantages to staying at Bear Brook is that you're only a couple of miles from the Katahdin trailheads.  You're also equally close to Sandy Stream Pond which is known as perhaps the best place in the park to see wildlife.  We took full advantage of that proximity during the week.

After setting up camp on Sunday afternoon we took an early evening walk around the pond.  We figured that it was probably too early for moose to be out, but still a nice walk.  We got a pleasant surprise...

Home sweet home at Bear Brook

South Turner over Sandy Stream Pond

We have a visitor

Grazing in the pond

Close enough to hear her munching

This was the first time that we'd actually seen a moose anywhere in the wild (other than by the side of the road in NH).  It was certainly a wonderful way to start the week.

Sandy Stream Pond - Take 2 (South Turner)

On Monday we decided to hike South Turner while the rest of the group tackled Katahdin.  We hadn't hiked in a few weeks and figured our legs needed some warm-up before a big hike.  It turned out to be a good choice for several reasons.  The trail to South Turner begins at the outlet of Sandy Stream Pond and we got the morning views on the way out and some unexpected afternoon views on the way back...

Morning views of Katahdin over Sandy Stream Pond

The view from Big Rock

From the pond outlet - my favorite viewpoint (particularly with morning light)

Coming back from the hike in early afternoon we figured it was way to early for any wildlife sightings.  We were obviously wrong.  We're assuming that this was the same girl we hung out with the night before.

She's back!

Cedar Waxwing on the rock - didn't even notice him

 She stayed for a long time, grazing on the bottom of the pond.  We hoped we'd see her again on future trips to the pond, but this was the last time.  Still pretty great.

A little refreshment back at the campsite at Bear Brook

Kidney Pond Paddle

Last year we hiked around all of the ponds near Foster Field (Kidney, Daicy, Elbow, Tracy, Grassy, etc.).  The views over the ponds from the shore were beautiful, but this time we decided to get an on-the-water perspective.  We rented kayaks (quite the bargain at $1/hr) and spent a couple of hours paddling around the pond and down the outlet which goes almost all the way to Daicy.  Just beautiful!

Gearing up at Kidney Pond

Kidney Pond from the boat launch area

Nice spot for a cabin!

Katahdin views

Double Top and Squaws Bosom


Morning reflections on the glass

Heading into the pond outlet

Katahdin over the outlet

Grass Leaf Arrowhead

Cranberry and Caverly Ponds

On the drive back to camp from Kidney Pond we stopped and took a short hike out to Cranberry Pond and Caverly Pond.  Both are located less than a mile off the tote road and the views are way more than worth the small amount of effort.

Pitcher Plants at Cranberry Pond

Cotton Grass and Pitcher Plants

Sphagnum Moss


Katahdin over Caverly Pond

Paddling Katahdin Lake

Last year we took one day of paddling on Katahdin Lake and really enjoyed it.  There's a 6 mile (flat) hike involved that makes this an out of the way place to paddle and once again we didn't see anyone else on the lake the whole time we were out there.  The keys to both of the canoes were available so Lori and Bernie were able to join us.  It was a beautiful day and the views were awesome.  There were no moose, but we did get to watch a eagle sitting in a tree next to the lake (but no pictures).  We also made a stop at the island for a lunch break which was nice until we discovered that we'd all been attacked by a bunch of tiny leeches! Who knew that you could use pretzels to remove leeches??  I'll never paddle without a bag of pretzels handy again!!

Eggs Benedict on a camping trip?  Only at Baxter Bash!  (thanks Lori)

Heading for Katahdin Lake

Confluence of Sandy Stream and Roaring Brook

Trillium fruit

False Violet

Katahdin Lake canoe launch

Lori in Katahdin Lake

Nat's going wading too.

Lori and Bernie with Katahdin beyond

The mountain is trying to hide in the clouds

Leech Island

Bog bridges

Hobblebush berries


It was a hot day and we stopped at the brook on the way back to cool off.


Really refreshing!


Swim Lori!!!

Sandy Stream Pond - Take 3

Since we had to go back to Roaring Brook to drop off the canoe key we figured we'd visit Sandy Stream Pond again to see if the moose might be back.  She wasn't , but we had a bunch of other visitors.  The shore was swarming with Cedar Waxwings that were alternating between perching in the trees on the shore and flitting around catching insects over the pond.  I don't know how we hadn't noticed them on our previous visits.  It was a very nice way to end the afternoon.

South Turner over Sandy Stream Pond

Cedar Waxwings

Bird watching

Showing off his color highlights

Hanging out on Big Rock

Late afternoon sun over Katahdin

Not much of a perch!

South Turner summit

Hoping for a moose sighting at Sandy Stream Pond outlet.  (not today)

Sun sinking over Katahdin

Nature Trail and Sandy Stream Pond - Take 4

We were debating doing our Hamlin hike on Friday, but decided to wait for what looked like the perfect weather on Saturday.  It was a good decision as Friday stayed cloudy most of the day.  We made it down day with a big, late breakfast and yet another trip to Sandy Stream Pond.  Still no moose, but lots of Cedar Waxwings again.  We also hiked the one mile loop of Nature Trail at Roaring Brook which turned out to be quite nice.

Roaring Brook Nature Trail views

Cotton Grass and a hole in the sky

Pamola Peak

Clouds on Katahdin

Slide on South Turner

Cotton Grass

Tree sculpture

Cotton Grass

Sphagnum Moss

Elephant tree?

Another beautiful Katahdin day

Another beautiful Katahdin day


Taking flight

These days all proved to us once again that Baxter has so much to offer beyond its mountains.  I think I could spend every minute there just exploring the woods, ponds, streams and other lowland feature and never feel cheated a bit.  But Baxter surely has amazing mountains too, and we didn't let those go to waste...


  1. Lost my comment somehow (if not just delete the duplicate!), but WOW! Thanks for sharing your amazing trip, now I can't wait for our trip to Baxter next summer.

    1. Thanks Summerset. We just fell in love after our first visit to Baxter last year. Already thinking about going back next summer - what an amazing place. You guys are going to love it!