Pemadumcook Lake

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Sept 15 , 1983 Thursday (59 mtg) From Gonzo!s Appalachian Trail journal

Most hikers faced a tough decision concerning lodging over the next several miles: to stay at Old Antlers Camp, or four miles past at Potawadjo Spring Lean-to. Old Antlers Camp is located about six miles from Cooper Brook Lean-to, and is just a grouping of run down cabins from an old sporting camp situated on the banks of Lower Jo-Mary Lake. An air of wilderness filled the senses at this location even though the cabins were very run down and falling apart from years of non-use and severe winters. Stories of the sounds of loons at night were very attractive. On the other hand, Potawadjo Spring Lean-to happened to be just four miles farther down the trail, was on a mile long section of trail maintained by L.L. Bean volunteers, and sported the biggest and best spring on the Appalachian Trail. The spring is round, over six yards wide, clear as a bell, and cold as ice - definitely some of the finest water around. There is a shelter located there as opposed to dilapidated cabins, but "oh, that spring!" Still, Potawadjo was a mere ten miles from Cooper Brook Lean-to. Katahdin Fever had struck me and I chose to visit both and stay at neither.

I found an interesting side trail leading one mile to the top of Potawadjo Ridge between the two locations that sported an interesting sign. The sign read: "Extraordinary View 1 mile." I read that and wondered, do I want to go two miles out of the way just for a view? Particularly when I began to break the words apart. Did it suggest that after one mile I would get just another extra ordinary view? I did not think so. I moved on past and continued farther without even stopping for a swim at any of the sandy beaches along Lower Jo-Mary Lake. The weather was sunny and bright, but the water was cold, and there was a chill in the air probably due to cooler temps as well as lack of humidity.

From Potawadjo Spring northward, the trail touched the receding lakeshore of Pemadumcook Lake. This area provided a particularly striking view across the partially dry lake with Katahdin looming in the background, and I thought this would be a great place to camp some day, but not today, I was headed to the next shelter. Moving on past the lake, the trail began to follow the river that fed Pemadumcook Lake. This section had recently been worked on and was similar to the new trail on the descent from White Cap - soft, spongy, and muddy. The new trail went on for what seemed an eternity, but was in reality only about five miles. Part of the problem was that the trail was located on a slope running perpendicular to the path, which caused the hiker to keep sliding down the side due to the slippery conditions. A slight rise brought me to a view of Nahmakanta Lake, which is the source of the water flowing in the stream toward Pemadumcook Lake. Had it not been for the view over the lake, I would have been mad that the trail had suddenly risen.

I followed near the shore to the left of Nahmakanta for the next two miles to a sand beach before hiking the last bit to Wadleigh Stream Lean-to. At the lean-to I took off my pack and made myself at home. I had traveled 21.3 miles, the last ten seemed that long by itself. I was in need of water, and found that the shelter name was in fact a misnomer - there was no water in the stream at Wadleigh Stream Lean-to. Inspired by this, I searched for and found a large shelf fungi that was over one foot wide on a nearby tree that was fresh enough to allow me to use as a pallet for drawing. The white underside of these fungi can be "drawn" on with a stick or other object. Just the act of touching it causes the white to darken. I crafted a "Home Sweet Home" type of sign with the new name of the shelter engraved upon it: "Wadleigh No-Stream Lean-to." I placed the decoration on a shelf in the Lean-to. After that, I went back to the sand beach close to the shelter where there was a nice spring flowing into the lake and gathered my water there.

Butch and Rob were thankful for the note to pick up water at the spring that I left on the trail, and we all laughed and joked about the new shelter decoration. They agreed that the last ten miles was quite long and seemingly endless.

Gonzo! Appalachian Trail Journals ©1983

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