For the 4th of July, Moose and Teton spent an extended weekend in the Bigelow Mountains and camped on the shore of Flagstaff Lake. Their days were spent paddling, hiking, exploring and relaxing in one of Maine's most beautiful preserves.
Ever since the short time we spent in the Bigelow Preserve on the Appalachian Trail, we had been eager to return to this wonderful area. We were blown away by its remoteness, views, and utter beauty. We decided to take advantage of our three-day weekend and make the trip north. The plan was to camp on the shore of Flagstaff Lake at the Round Barn Camp Sites.
We arrived at Round Barn in the evening where we picked a camp site and set up. After we had established our camp, we jumped right in the boats for a little evening paddle off the shore.
The next day we had planned to hike up to Avery Peak via the Safford Brook Trail but the sun was shining bright so we decided it was time to soak up some rays. We delayed our hiking plans for a little water action!
The water out on the main body of the lake was rampant, the wind was blowing and we found it nearly impossible to make ground in any direction, therefore we hung out around the little cove next to our camp site. The water here was calm and offered us an opportunity to tool around the shores and catch some sun.
We were not alone at camp or on the water, we had a neighbor who patrolled the waters in the cove: a loon we named Lunar. We paddled and played around him while he stayed within proximity of our camp site for the entirety of our visit.
After our paddle, we relaxed a little and had lunch. Once lunch was consumed we prepared to go on a hike up the the second tallest peak in the range, Avery Peak, via the Safford Brook Trail.
We made it off the trail just as the sun began to set and walked straight from the trail head to a beach located just west of our camp site to view the vibrant show. With all the recent forest fires in Canada (which sits only 20+ miles away from the Bigelows) the sky was red, red, red!
That evening we cooked brats over the fire and played cards into the night. The moon was full and high enough in the sky for us to hit the water once again at 11 for a night paddle around the lake. The moon was so bright that we were able to leave our lights back on the shore. It was an amazing experience, paddling the darkness across the placid lake.
The next morning we got up with plans to explore a little further down Flagstaff Lake. The previous day had strong winds that made travelling beyond our little cove a bit strenuous, so we never really got to get out there. We loaded up the boats with some snacks and water and headed west towards a little spot known as Hurricane Island.
There was no wind at all on our 2.6 mile paddle out to Hurricane Island, and the lake was like glass. Once we landed on the shore of the island, we were surprised to discover what a little paradise it was. The small land mass hosts three descent tent sites and is a registered camp ground for those paddling the Northern Forest Canoe Trail. There was a log book similar to those found at A.T. shelters on the island which we pulled out to read and to log our visit. It was interesting to read the stories of the paddlers, where they had been, who they were with and their experiences on the island (which were all good).
Once we finished with the log book, we unexpectedly began to settle in. The island was so peaceful, the view of the range was amazing, and the shores were crystal clear and perfect for swimming. Moose lounged about while Teton explored and entertained himself. It was hard to make a motion to leave, and once we finally did we knew that some day we would return to camp and reside on the little island.
On our way back to camp we explored a few more nooks and crannies along the lake's massive shoreline. Hoping to spot a moose, we paddled into a few wetland coves, but all we saw was gorgeous scenery. The paddle from Round Barn out to Hurricane was 6 miles round trip. Once we landed at camp we went on a small swim off the shore before cooking up lunch.
Afterwards, we sadly packed up and left the lake. It is a three hour drive back to Portland from the Bigelows and we wanted to catch the fireworks that were being displayed that night.
After arriving back in Portland, we grabbed some dinner and a six pack and searched for a spot on the bay to put our kayaks in the water. The fireworks were being launched out over the bay and most of the shoreline was taken up by the crowds of people, so we had to go out of our way to find a good access point. We found one off of Martin's Point Bridge where we carried the boats down a rock wall to the waters edge. From there we paddled out into the bay to watch the impressive 4th of July show.