We took off in record time from Boston at 1 p.m. on a Friday before a holiday weekend, and had nothing but smooth sailing up to "Northern" Maine...six hours North, way way up. We were racing the clock so that we wouldn't get locked out of the KI Jo Mary Forest at Hedgehog gate, which closed at nine. But we even had time to stop for some Long Trail beer at the Augusta Shaw's (Maine sells beer in supermarkets, yipee!). When we finally sighted Greenville, it was when a giant lake dropped out from the fog and onto the horizon. I, the navigator, claimed it was Moosehead, and we gasped at the eerie setting the overcast skies put on. So we found the dirt road that would wind through parts of Maine's "Hundred Mile Wilderness" and bumped over all the slick ruts in our little Honda Civic. (The GMC SUV in front of us nicely waited whenever we had to traverse a particularly rough patch). Bill at Hedgehog Gate (we made it in plenty of time) told us about the "real nice folks" down at Lyford Pond Camp, and finally we rolled into the driveway with that rustic wooden barn and quaint cabins that were to be our home for a couple nights. And I'm not sure if they were expecting us or not, but as soon as we hopped out of the car, Chuck stepped out of a sidedoor from whence the sounds of dishwashing emanated, asking if we'd eaten yet. Dinner had ended a little bit ago, but he said he had plenty leftover to bring out: garlic and carrot mashed potatoes, pork, and green beans, with strawberry and fresh rhubarb pies for dessert. Then we were shown to our tiny log cabin, with a porch and nice adirondack chair out front, and bunkbeds, nice blankets and rugs, a little sink, a gas lamp, and a cozy woodstove inside. Chuck educated us on how to build the fire, "pretty simple" he said, and we were ready for cabin living. We sauntered down a little slope to the lounge in the bunkhouse cabin and found a soon-to-be crew-mates relaxing by the fire. We met Peter and Janet Roderick, our fearless trail work leaders, Jen and Brian from Medford, John from York, Bill from Long Island, and latecomers Denise and Ron from real Northern Maine--Fort Kent. Next morning, we all emerged from the woodstove heat of our cabins when we heard the clanging of the breakfast bell. Breakfast was just as delicious as dinner the night before: french toast and sausages and amazing cranberry oatmeal and coffee and fresh fruit. You really didn't know when to stop. After that we made sandwiches with coldcuts, cheese, and yummy red pepper spread and hummus in flaxseed wraps. Cookies and trailmix and fruit completed the spread for our lunch baggies. And then it was time to muster outside for our work briefing for the day.
Peter opened the back of his van and we each picked up our tool of choice, axe, handsaw, rake, loppers, and more. Then we set out toward Little Lyford Pond and set to work. We started by learning how to clear water bars, and how to correctly lop a branch (flush with the trunk), and to throw cut branches butt-first into the woods. We paced across the double-plank boardwalk alongside huge moose tracks, and surveyed the pond and hung life preservers up in the canoe shack. We'd return here later at dusk to float and drink a beer and wait for the moose to show (while others were hard at work exploring by paddle or casting fishing lines). With the help of the friendly neighborhood beaver dam, we were able to cross the high water bogs to the pick up the trail (which is primarily a cross-country skiing trail, and so much more passable in winter). Finally, Peter was able to break out the chainsaw, and everyone hit their stride traipsing off wherever they saw a low branch or debris on the trail to clear the way. This is when it started to feel less like work and more like fun; I remembered feeling the same way when running through woods as a kid. That's all we really were: a bunch of kids working our way through the woods on our own little missions. We split into two groups to cover more ground on the Pond 1 and Pond 2 loop trails. My group headed off between the two ponds and came upon a towering old chimney, remaining from its former days as some kind of cabin or logging building perhaps. We came to a river crossing where a a bridge was down, but another beaver dam held strong. We noticed nearby tree stumps complete with beaver bite marks.We inspected strange looking fungi and pretty flowers. All while raking back debris, picking up sticks, and trimming back branches to our heart's content.
As you can see, I could go on and on about all the adventures this weekend held: after-work leisure time laying on grass and reading at the cabin, enjoying beer and survival stories and "toss the pigs" games with crewmates, hiking the "Grand Canyon of Maine" Gulf Hagas and taking videos of the beautiful waterfalls, rushing up Indian Mountain to Laurie's Ledge for expansive views of the wilderness we were buried deep within, all the myriad lakes and hills dotting the dark green/early-spring-light-green swaths of trees, while noble Katahdin rested on the horizon. Black flies were, however, in full form, but even they couldn't damper our spirits.The best part of it all is that we only have more to explore on the next trail work weekend at Gorman Camps. Till then!
submitted by Kristen Hoffman