Thursday, August 29, 2013

Height of the Land, Coos Canyon, and Angel Falls

Yesterday Josh and I had a rare day off together to get out and explore. We decided to take the Rangeley Lakes Scenic Byway which starts in Madrid, goes through Oquossic, and heads towards Byron.

8.13 Height of the Land Scenic Overlook
Our first stop was at Height of the Land, located just off Rt. 17. It is a scenic overlook that offers panoramic views of Mooselookmeguntic and Cupsuptic Lakes, as well as a few smaller bodies of water. Also, the Appalachian Trail crosses Rt. 17 here and so it's a great spot to day hike from.

Even though it was a hazy day, the landscape was gorgeous. The lakes are spotted with heavily forest islands and occasionally you'll see a perfectly secluded sandy beach. One cannot help contemplating how beautiful this region is. The overlook certainly lives up to its name.

8.13 Coos Canyon
Once we were on the road again, we began our search for the Bemis Road, which takes you to the Angel Falls Trailhead. Of course we missed it. We had been so busy chatting that we were nearly to Coos Canyon when our mistake was realized. So, naturally we had to go see Coos Canyon.

The Swift River cuts through the town of Byron through the gorge known as Coos Canyon. The water worn stones walls are stunning. Sometimes smooth and rolling then sharp and severe elsewhere. The water is the perfect for swimming and there are swimming holes for everyone.

8.13 Coos Canyon
We scrambled along the rocks and then soaked our feet for a little while. Wu had to swim. He also got to feel a real current, which didn't seem to slow him down. We were a little disappointed by the amount of litter. There were shoes, clothing, bottles, even a backpack strewn about.

After taking our fair share of photos and wishing we had brought our swimsuits, we were back on the road. Trying to find the Bemis Road was easier when traveling back towards Height of the Land. We were able to find it easily (i.e.- we only turned around once!).

8.13 Angel Falls Trail
We had heard the Bemis Road was in rough shape. It is. Though the trailhead to Angel Falls is only 3.6 miles off of Rt. 17, it took us at least 20 minutes. I didn't notice a sign, but we knew we were in the right place because we suddenly came across 4-5 cars parked in three pull-offs along the road.

8.13 Angel Falls Trail
The trail is 0.8 mile long and begins as an old two-track that curves slowly down to a large open area. There is a giant rock, spray painted from previous visitors. At this point there are two roads that continue on. The trail to Angel Falls is marked with red swaths and is on the left.

8.13 Angel Falls Trail
It didn't take us long to realize what a beautiful area we were in. As we made our way towards the falls, there were several stream crossings. The trail changed from wide and easy to narrow and demanded greater attention. We were enchanted. The moss was so brilliantly colored it seems as though we were in a tropical rainforest at times.

Near the falls we began to catch glimpses of our destination. We heard the brook running. At the top the trail opens up and you can really take the waterfall in. The water, Mountain Brook, drops 90 feet over the horsetail falls making Angel Falls one of the tallest waterfalls in Maine. The way the water moves diagonally across the rocks was awesome. Water rushed over fallen pieces of the rock face. It was a really peaceful place.

8.13 Angel Fall
We rested, photographed and explored just a bit before hiting the trail back. We would have stayed longer but it was a popular spot and there were several other parties trying to enjoy it as well. The hike back down was pure serenity. Without other visitors in earshot we were able to relax and go at our own pace.

As it often does the hike back seemed to be more difficult. I'm not sure if it was that the footing was trickier or that I knew our day was coming to a close. Either way, it didn't slow the planning of our next adventure... coming back soon with our little one in tow.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Daggett Rock, Phillips ME

Daggett Rock is one of those cool places that you occasionally hear about but never seem to be able to get yourself to. It's located on the Wheeler Hill Road in Phillips and now that we live in this neck of the woods, it seemed that we should check it out.

8.13 Looking through a split
On Friday Eli, Memere, and I made the trek over. It wasn't a surprise that the tar and dirt road leading to the trailhead isn't well maintained but thankfully it's passable and the trailhead is only 2.3 miles in. On the left side there is a faded wooden sign marking the old two track that leads to Daggett Rock. On the right is a gravel parking area that easily holds three cars.

The walk in is about 15 minutes and is a slight incline for most of the way. It is easy walking. We strolled up it without any problems, even with Eli on my back. (It would be possible to bring a jogging stroller, if that helps to gauge the difficulty!)

8.13 Memere trying some bouldering
Daggett Rock sits in a small opening that is surrounded by thick trees. It seems that the trees are cut back occasionally and briars are kept at bay by the visitors. The rock itself is 80 feet long, 30 feet wide and 25 feet tall. I read accounts that it could weigh over 8000 tons and that it traveled all the way from Saddleback Mt. in Dallas Plantation.

The granite rock is split into three pieces and there is enough space to walk in-between. Someone built a makeshift ladder so that you can climb atop one of the pieces. 

We took it all in as we rested, snacked, and hydrated in the shadow of the rock. It was a perfect day to be exploring. After snapping a few photos we headed back down the hill to the car.

Daggett Rock is a seriously big rock. It's an unsual, quirky find and if that's your thing, than it's worth seeing. It is also a great spot to do some bouldering and geocaching! If you like to learn about the local lore behind Daggett Rock, check out the Maine Geological Survey.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Maiden Voyage of the Davis Family

This adventure began nearly two years ago in 2011. That Christmas Josh brought home a canoe. It was a perfect present for our impending family. We had a baby on the way and were determined to keep getting outside as a family.

We made plans to get it out on the water last summer. Our intentions were good. We were naive. Between our newborn and jobs our hands were full.

Fall came and went. Winter dragged. Spring was here and we were packing to move to Maine.

Finally summer was here and it seemed as though another season would pass us by. Then the other day we kicked it into overdrive. We bought straps and reliable rope. We practiced lifting the canoe and tying it down. We decided where to try it out. We packed and loaded. It was awesome.

The next day we headed out to Toothaker Pond. We were there, unloaded, and in the canoe in 25 minutes. In the stern was Josh, while Eli and I sat in the bow. We cruised along the shoreline. Though the water was smooth we still wanted to be cautious.

We had hoped to find a place to go ashore and picnic but it didn't work out. We snacked a bit in the canoe and took it all in: the shoreline covered in dense trees, a few camps spot the shoreline, a small lighthouse jutting into the pond and the blue heron feeding in reeds.

8.13 Looking across Toothaker Pond
As we were relaxing the wind began to pick up. We followed the shoreline around the entire pond and made our way back to the put-in. We pulled out, thought to take a photo, and packed it up. Though were hadn't been out for long, we had enjoyed our time on the water. It was a successful attempt to get our whole family on the water and it has inspired us to get out again. 

Hopefully that will happen before next summer!