Since I didn’t have much time to blog while I was living in Maine, I’ve decided to start a “Throwback Thursday” edition of my blog for the next several weeks to profile my hikes while I was in Maine. Today’s adventure will take place in the 100 Mile Wilderness of Maine - Turtle Ridge Trail in October 2013.
Turtle Ridge is a fairly new trail, constructed by the MCC (Maine Conservation Corps) about 8 years ago. The trail is a figure-eight of sorts and can be done many different ways, so for my hike today I decided to wing it and go where I felt like hiking. To get to the trailhead, I drove down Route 11 South from Millinocket to Jo-Mary Road. I drove in Jo-Mary, took the first fork toward Cooper Brook and drove through the Henderson Gate, about an hour and ten minutes or so from Millinocket. The trailhead parking is well-marked, but the actual trailhead is not!
The trail is a blue blaze and begins a gentle uphill on soft, pine-covered trail and is in amazing shape. After about a half mile or so you’ll come to a summit with the first trail junction and obscured views of other hill tops. I decided to continue straight down to Rabbit Pond and a stream crossing. There were a few ups and down, but all gentle or switchbacked for the next two miles or so until I came to Turtle Ridge, which looks down on Sing-Sing Pond and across the pond to the AT at the Whitecap Range. There was a beautiful view here and I took some time for a snack and a few pictures before heading downhill to the next trail junction.
On the way down to the next section of trail (which is a second access point at ITS 85/86 (Musquash), there was a little bit more steepness but I had noticed some beautiful signs of fall with fresh fallen, colorful leaves underfoot. When I reached the bottom of the hill, the trail turned into an old logging roadbed and was gentle and pleasant, following along the edge of Sing-Sing Pond. I hadn’t seen a person or any wildlife all day so I was frightened by a moose who had seen me first and was taking off in the opposite direction and splashed into the pond! After a mild heart attack I began a steeper uphill that was more in Maine fashion than the rest of the trail to Long and Henderson Ponds. This section of trail is more remote and, therefore, rockier and steeper than the first part. I made my way uphill, stopping a few views and stopping once to ponder a green-blazed trail not on mine or any map I had seen before, slowly making my way down to yet another scenic pond.
The last uphill of the day had some beautiful step work done by the MCC and a “scenic overlook” which turned out to be overgrown. It was starting to get later in the day, around 3:15, so I was ready to be finished. I was summiting my final hill when I came around a corner to the most stunning frontal view of Katahdin! It was an amazing surprise! To look down and see the ponds and little logging trucks snaking along Jo-Mary Road and then look straight ahead and see this beautiful mountain in the fall was stunning. I had another snack break and took a few photos and videos before heading back downhill to the original trail junction and then, finally down to the car.
Just before getting back to my car I had to walk along Jo-Mary Road for a quick minute. I crossed a logging bridge and directly beneath me heard a splash… it turned out to be a beaver swimming through the small stream! I stretched out and got ready to drive back to Millinocket. After crossing the Henderson Gate I came to the Cooper Brook/AT junction of the road and saw two thru’s sitting on a rock looking exhausted. They were dreaming of lunch at White House Landing, which was no longer serving lunch to hikers without a night’s stay (for the two of them, this would have cost around 90 bucks after the food and stay!) I broke the bad news to them to find out they were pretty much out of food and looking forward to packing out burgers. I had no food or trail magic, but offered to jump them ahead a day’s walk or so on the trail to Nahmakanta Lake if they wanted. They gladly accepted and we drove the half-hour back in the other direction to the lake.
They actually did stay with us at the hostel a few days later and gave me their blog to follow, even though they had already finished the trail. They were incredibly grateful, which was nice to see that late in the season.
Katahdin from the top of the mountain:
The beaver in the stream:
The view from Turtle Ridge: