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Runtrails' 2005 AT Journal
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      PONDS & LAKES IN MAINE        
APRIL 17, 2006
"I remember a hundred lovely lakes, and recall the fragrant breath of
pine and fir and cedar and poplar trees. The trail has strung upon it,
as upon a thread of silk, opalescent dawns and saffron sunsets."
- Hamlin Garland

Scenic West Carry Pond early on Day 137

Here's another Hamlin Garland quote about a hundred lovely lakes. I still don't know which trail he's talking about (most likely not the Appalachian Trail, from what I've read about him), but his comments about the sights and sounds he enjoyed on his trail are very apropos for the AT.

I regret that I saw few sunsets and sunrises from the AT because I was either at our camper then or in transit between the camper and Trail. That's a disadvantage of being crewed.

Backpackers who spend their nights on the Trail have the opportunity from numerous vantage points from Georgia to Maine to observe the sun rise and set over beautiful mountains, valleys, and lakes. Many of the shelters and tent sites are located on ridges or mountainsides with gorgeous views.

This is why you've seen so few sunrise/sunset photos in this journal.

The best dawn and dusk photos we took are below and near the end of this essay, taken from a campsite in the Hundred-Mile Wilderness with a marvelous view across Jo-Mary Lake. The Trail passes by on the other side of the lake. So it's the same lake, just a different perspective than what I saw while running.


During my trek I decided that Mainers are masters of understatement. They deliberately do the opposite of exaggerate when they name their bodies of water. They minimize them.

Is this reverse one-upmanship, or what?

Creeks and rivers, regardless of width and depth, are called "streams." That's OK, according to my dictionary. What amused me is calling some large lakes . . . ponds. (The very biggest are "lakes," though.)

I grew up in Ohio, where a pond is a little, bitty lake, often man-made, to water livestock on farms or to decorate a landscape. I always thought ponds were a couple acres, max, and anything bigger was a lake. I've traveled in every state in the Lower Forty-Eight, and this is the first time I've seen such huge "ponds." Even New Hampshire's "ponds" aren't this huge.

Those Mainers!

Whatever you want to call them, Maine's ponds and lakes are simply outstanding along the Appalachian Trail. It was such a pleasure to run and hike right next to them, or to see them from high vantage points.

I've shown many of these photos in the journal before, but not in one spot. Eight or nine pictures will be new to you. As in the previous essay, I'll give the name of the lake, its location, and/or the day I was there so you can see the trailheads I used.

I hope you enjoy the picture show and develop a strong urge to go see these "ponds" for yourself.

HERE WE GO . . .

Speck Pond near sunset, on the south side of Old Speck Mountain, my first day in Maine (Day 127):

Surplus Pond, located in a sag between East B Hill Road and Wyman Mountain, Day 130, taken from the Trail where it crosses the outlet to Burroughs Brook:

Close-up of dock and old camp building across Surplus Pond:

Lake Mooselookmeguntic (Abenaki/Native American name for "portage to moose feeding place") as seen from Highway 17 on Day 131:

(And you can see the photo of the real, live moose that Jim took the next morning about a hundred yards away.)

The thirteen-mile section between Highways 17 and 4 on Day 132 was chock full of "ponds" right next to the Trail: Moxie, :Long, Sabbath Day, Little Swift River, and South Ponds, with nice views of a second "Long Pond" off in the distance (several miles from the first one and not even connected by the same stream). I passed a third "Long Pond" on Day 143.

Here's an interesting fact I didn't know until I wrote this essay: on the AT maps nearly every pond has a number to identify it. So the first "Long Pond" on whose shore I trod is Pond #2330 (I told you there is a lot of water in Maine!). The one I could see from higher ground is #1729. And the third one is #1112.

I wonder how may other "Long Ponds" there are in Maine??

I believe this is Moxie Pond (which means "dark water"):

That's the little Moxie Pond near Highway 17. Would you believe there was also a much larger Moxie Pond on Day 140 in the Hundred-Mile Wilderness?? Oddly, neither Moxie Pond has a number on my maps.

Apparently Maine has so many lakes, not only do they have to number them, they also have to repeat the names. Or maybe they lack creativity. Or they were named long ago and folks in different parts of the state didn't know they were repeating the names (the most likely reason).

The practice of repeating names of landmarks reminds me of all the "Brush" and "Brushy" mountains in Virginia, and the groupings of town names in Vermont that are variations on a theme.

As far as I know, there is only one Little Swift River Pond, and this is it. The canoe is provided for hikers to use while staying at the campsites nearby - a nice touch!

There is also a photo of a unique table with benches beside one of the ponds the same day that I showed in Photos 12 - another nice amenity for hikers.

The next day in the Saddleback Range I passed two small lakes named "Ethel" and "Eddy." I wonder who they were named for?

This is Ethel Pond with the low morning sun shining on the water (and in my camera lens):

In this view from Saddleback Mountain, you can see Eddy Pond in the foreground below and either the Sandy River Ponds or Long Pond in the distance:

Small pond below rocky traverse of Crocker Mountain on Day 134:

The Horns Pond, Bigelow Mountain Range, Day 135:

The Horns Pond from higher up Bigelow Mountain on South Horn Peak:

The views of large Flagstaff Lake were just gorgeous that day from Avery Peak:


West Carry Pond just north of Roundtop Mountain on Day 137 (another photo at top of this page):

There is a photo of East Carry Pond , a few miles up the Trail, in Photos 26.

Remember I mentioned there was a second Moxie Pond? This is the south end of this eight-mile-long "pond" (AKA "lake" in any other state) at its outlet to Baker Stream. Tater is enjoying a swim near the trail head where I stopped in the afternoon on Day 138:

Lake Hebron near Monson, Day 140:

Jim took this photo of the fall colors reflected in East Chairback Pond north of Chairback Mountain on Day 143:

And now here are two views of the third Long Pond you can view from the AT in Maine. This is Pond #1112 and it lies between the Barren-Chairback Range and Gulf Hagas. This view is from Barren Mountain:

This view of Long Pond is from Third Mountain:

Mountain View Pond south of Little Boardman Mountain in the afternoon mist on Day 144:

Crawford Pond on a clear morning (Day 145):

We camped on the shore of beautiful Lower Jo-Mary Lake for three nights and had great views of Mt. Katahdin across the lake.

Here are several photos Jim and I took right outside our camper on Days 145 and 146 at various times of day. There is also another sunset picture near the top of this page.



This is a photo of Lower Jo-Mary Lake early in the morning on Day 146 as I walked on the AT at the other end of the lake:

Cody got to run with me that day. This photo shows him enjoying Sand Beach on Jo-Mary Lake a few miles later:

Jo-Mary was an Abenaki chief renowned for his hunting and swimming abilities, so it's appropriate that a large lake is named for him.

Nahmakanta Lake ("lake of the largest fish") south of Nesuntabunt Mountain ("three summits"), also on Day 146:

There is another photo of Nahmakanta Lake at the top of the journal entry on Day 146, with Mt. Katahdin in the background.

One of the best views of the massive Mt. Katahdin ("greatest mountain") that I saw was over this little unnamed and unnumbered pond a little north of Abol Bridge on Day 148, my final day on the Trail:

From that point, it is about ten miles to Katahdin Stream Campground and the beginning of the five-mile Hunt Trail, the official route up the mountain to the northern terminus of the AT.

The views from the top of Mt. Katahdin on a clear day are simply awe-inspiring, even if you haven't just completed the entire Appalachian Trail.

The day I summitted saw the largest crowd of 2005, per the rangers. Although perhaps twenty were AT thru-hikers, most weren't. It's a very popular place on a nice summer or fall day. See the entry on Day 148 for the full story, with other information about the mountain here.

This view from the summit of Mt. Katahdin shows some of the numerous lakes in the valley below. You can see them in every direction, shining like mirrors in the sun:

I hope this preview of Maine's many ponds and lakes inspires you to hike there some day. This is only a fraction of the bodies of water near the Appalachian Trail in Maine.

If you're luckier than me, you might even see a big 'ole moose feeding near shore in one of them!

Next up: creeks along the Trail from Georgia to Maine

Happy trails,

"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil, Cody, and Tater

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2006 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil