Baxter State Park Part 2: North Brother

North Brother:

  • Elevation: 4151 Feet
  • Location: Baxter State Park, ME
  • Date Hiked:  July 12, 2020
  • Companion: Stud
  • Trails: Marston Trail

We woke up at first light, cozy in our sleeping bags looking out at the misty foggy sky from our lean-to at the Nesowadnehunk Field Campground wondering if the weather was going to let us climb North Brother.  We got up and walked over the the ranger cabin to see if there was an updated weather report but only the one from yesterday was still posted which was predicting scattered showers with possible afternoon thunderstorms.  We walked back to our lean-to and packed up and got ready to hike deciding we could always turn around.  We sat on the edge of the lean-to drinking coffee and eating some breakfast, reading some trail descriptions and looking at maps before heading off.  Stud pointed out a huge rainbow rising from the filed and our spirits were high.

We were the first ones in the parking area at the trailhead and we were hiking by 6:45.  It was misty and extremely humid and we were drenched in a combination of sweat and cloud pretty quickly.  The forest smelled delicious wafting balsam fir, pine, and spruce and we cruised the first few miles eventually stopping at a stream to have a big snack and dunk our bandanas to cool ourselves off.  We hiked onward and came upon a beautiful mountain pond and the fog cleared just enough for us to see the mountain before us.  From the pond we climbed some steep rock staircases to a saddle and cruised along that before reaching another steep section that eventually became a completely exposed alpine boulder field.IMG_3206As we got above the trees, the wind was whipping so hard that we could hardly hear each other.  The fog was thick and we stayed close.  No views.  We made our way to the summit and then turned right around and came upon a group of hikers, the first we’d scene all day!  IMG_3210IMG_3212We made our way back below the trees finding a place to sit and have a big snack and recover from the intense exposure.  Our adrenaline was pumping and we were feeling good.  We made our way back down to the pond, stopping to admire it and look up at what we had just come down from.  About a mile later, out of the corner of my eye I see this large dark mass move off the trail directly front of us.  We are hiking down at a pretty good clip and Stud is telling me a story when I stop and say something like, “Stud, just so you know, there is a HUGE moose right in front of us.  About 20 feet in front of a us, a massive moose who was coming up the trail towards us and us toward her, stepped off the trail and is standing next to the trail.  I turn around looking for a tree or a rock to climb not really knowing what to do.  We just stand there kind of frozen and I click my hiking poles together to see if the moose might move along but she doesn’t budge and I’m reminded that they are territorial and tend to stand their ground and I look around making sure there are no babies in tow.  We decide that she is waiting for us to pass by her so she can continue along the trail and so we very slowly and calmly walk by her until we get around 30 feet away and we look back and watch as she steps back on the trail and continues on her way.  We had maybe 2 miles left to the car and I must have turned around like every 2 minutes to make sure she wasn’t following us.It was amazing.  A moose on the trail.  I have both dreaded and dreamed of this moment.  I’m so glad our encounter was so peaceful.  What a gift.  She was massive and her brown hair was reddish and she looked so robust and healthy.  I’ve never been so close to a moose in all my life.  We both wish we could have taken a picture but it wasn’t worth the risk and it made the whole encounter more special and more ours.

We were reeling by the time we got to the car and we were filthy.  We chugged some water and ate some cold pizza from the cooler and drove clockwise on the tote road over the Roaring Brook campground where we would unpack our day packs and transition into our backpacking packs leaving Stud’s car, climbing the 3.3 miles into Chimney Pond where our coveted lean-to awaited us for the next couple days.  We were exhausted and filthy, covered in mud and it was raining.  We lazily shoved our gear into our packs, doing a terrible job of packing them into lumpy leaning towers of hell.  I bet mine weighed like 40 lbs.  Ofcourse, anything I needed for the hike into Chimney was not accessible because I was in denial about what was ahead so I had zero snacks for the hike in and all Stud had accessible was a bag of lucky charms cereal in her pocket and that was basically what fueled un up the humid bouldery climb.IMG_3228We had face coverings on when we started since there were a lot more people around.  Our packs were so heavy and it was so humid and we were so tired that we had to stop like every half hour to chug water and rest.  It took us forever and we were so wrecked by the time we arrived but when we saw our lean-to, we were overcome with joy.  It was huge and dry and freshly built.  They have since replaced all the lean-to’s since I was last there almost 10 years ago.  They smelled fresh and we exploded our packs and cleaned ourselves up and got into dry clothes before the friendly ranger came by to check us in and give us a little orientation to this backcountry camp.  He was sooo nice and we just wanted to talk to him all day.  Ranger Andy is the best.  IMG_7045IMG_3218IMG_3262We then walked around camp, finding the outhouses and filling our water bottles from the pond and treating them with aquamira so we wouldn’t get beaver fever.  We ate a bunch of snacks and then hung our food on the bear cables they have permanently set up.  e got into our sleeping bags and watched as these blond snowshoe hares hopped all around our lean-to.  They would hop up and say hello and then dash off into the forest.  They were so cute and hilarious.  We stretched out our aching bodies and talked about our big hiking plans tomorrow and wondering if we’d be able to climb Katahdin with the weather that might be coming…

Part 3: Katahdin (Hamlin Peak & Baxter Peak)

3 thoughts on “Baxter State Park Part 2: North Brother

  1. Amazing encounter!!!! I loved seeing the mountains. Nechama and I, well over 25 years ago and a bit, spent 2 weeks in Baxter. I was already using my insulin pump. We climbed Katahdin but also climbed every mountain in Baxter. While we found Katahdin to be unique in it’s length and crowds, several other climbs were much more daring and strenuous. It also rained the first week but we were young and undauntable and climbed daily. I have the most wonderful memories from that time. keep safe!

    • Yeah I will say that North Brother felt way harder! Katahdin is intimidating and no joke but once you’re on the ridge its not so scary as compared with some other mountains. Wow, that must have been an amazing trip Serena!

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