Locally known as Eagles Crag, Clifton Crag, or Eagles Bluff this area is on route 180 in Clifton, a short drive from Bangor via route 9 and a short drive from Ellsworth on 180. From Rt 9 it’s approximately 2.5 miles on the left and is unmarked – there are often cars parked on the side of the road and there is a small road that goes a short distance into the woods there as well. If you pass the Springy Pond Road on your right you’ve gone too far. There are a couple of trails that lead up to the crag, some well marked and some not so well marked. It’s short hike to the top, taking only about 20 minutes or so – the crag itself is wildly popular with rock climbers, with some of the routes listed here. For those of us who want to get to the top a little easier, once you get to the base of the crag the trail goes to the left and winds around to the back side where it is a steep but short hike to the top. The view is spectacular for a relatively easy and short hike.
Posts Tagged ‘Pond’
It was a wind chill advisory day in Maine and I was a mile from the truck standing in front of a beaver house with my friend Peter. Wind chill advisories are issued when the temperature with the wind chill is expected to fall between approximately -15 to -24 degrees farenheight. I’m not sure if the wind chill had frosted my brain a little that day, for I knew better than to be standing in front of an active beaver house. Beaver movement in and out of the entrance, creates weak ice or even worse, shell ice which does not have much strength, and as luck would have it I was standing directly over the channel of the entrance. The ice gave way with really little warning at all, and I looked down to see the black of the water coming at me. I reached out and caught myself with my hands leaving me very briefly waist deep in the frigid water, before I leaned back and rolled out of the hole, and rolled on the ice to Peter. We rubbed snow, which absorbs moisture, all over my legs and I stood up and brushed it off. It was so cold that the outer layer I was wearing quickly froze solid. So quickly in fact that the other three layers I was wearing never even got wet from the whole experience. I was able to finish out the day, and it wasn’t until I got into the truck with the heater on, that my pants began to melt and I got wet and cold for the ride home.
Beavers flourish in Maine for a a number of reasons, foremost being because there is a lot of habitat for them here – in fact there are 37,000 linear miles of beaver habitat here in the state which has the capacity to support 45,000 to 68,000 beavers, of which annually about 10,000 are harvested. A few years ago due to an increased number of landowner complaints, the state made the season more liberal in hopes that more beavers would be harvested. A fair amount of Maine is covered by dirt roads, and they are easily washed out by beaver activity on the myriad of streams and rivers that criss cross the state. Maine at least gets it – I find it hard to fathom other states that have reduced or severely restricted methods of trapping, or trapping altogether. For example, in the years since Massachusetts banned almost all trapping in ’05, their budget for beaver problems has grown to $1,208,000 which is paid for by taxpayer dollars. Why on earth would you do that when there are people that will do it for free? I did some damage control trapping for a while and I always asked if the client could wait until the fur was marketable (about late October thru April) for me to do the job, and I would do it for free. When they would profusely thank me for fixing their problem I would tell them to remember it if there was ever a vote here to ban trapping. There is an in depth Beaver Assessment of Maine paper which you can see here. There is a really interesting chart in the paper showing the average price per pelt, number harvested, and number of license holders. Trapping and the beaver used to be so tied to our society and way of life it is amazing to me. Beaver pelts or plews, were as good as currency, Manhatten Island is what it is today because it used to be the place where furs were traded, bought, and sold, and the canoe races here in Maine I believe had there start with the fur trade – the faster you could get your fur to market, the more you got paid. Beaver trapping here in the state is quite regulated and the Commissioner can and does close areas to the taking of beaver. Each pelt has to be tagged by a Game Warden, who sends the information of where and when it was caught to the State, so that populations can be monitored.
Over the years I’ve noticed that bobcats love to stand on beaver houses, and I’ve often imagined what a beaver must feel like hearing the cat walk on the house, and hearing it sniff at the top. Beaver do have a distinctive smell from their castor which was used for earaches, deafness, headaches, and loss of memory back in the day and the beavers use it for territorial purposes using castor mounds, which are large globs of mud deposited on the stream bank with castor deposited on it. Apparently it all smells uniquely different for them , as it’s an effective method to use castor from another colony to illicit a territorial response in the beaver. It’s often possible to smell a well established colony on a stream long before you get there. One year walking down the fragile ice of a stream, Peter and I came across blood on the ice, followed by a blood smear on the snow into some evergreens. After poking around some, we found where a patient cat had laid in wait overlooking a patch of open water, melting the snow some where it waited. It appeared that a beaver had came up into the open water and the cat had killed him, dragging him across the ice and into some privacy to enjoy his meal. ‘Cats seem to love beaver meat, and we had one following us one year – investigating all of the sets, and getting a free meal when we had a catch. One time after it had snowed just enough to show a print, I realized when I got back to the truck that I had forgotten something on the beaver flowage, we had been gone maybe 15 minutes, and when we got back to the ice the cat had been there, and visited all the places we did. It was a bit eerie to know that he had likely been in a position to be watching us while we were there.
During one winter there was a railroad line I had to walk several miles on, and along the way a red squirrel had dug a hole under the tracks and I would stop and talk to him, which of course he wasn’t very happy with and would scold me from inside his hole. Then one day it had snowed just a dusting, and as I walked by the squirrel hole, he was no longer scolding me, and there were no tracks on the snow like there always were previous. I then noticed the track on the rail itself. It was a bobcat track, and it extended as far as I could see – just on the rail – ending at the squirrel hole. He must have stood waiting for the squirrel to come out and grabbed a quick meal. I followed his track on the rail for just over a mile, where they came from, and went back to, a dense thicket of fur and spruce. On the way back through later that day, all the evidence had disappeared – the sun had melted the snow off the tracks.
We had discovered a small flowage near an abandoned bridge which had an old culvert running underneath of it. The beavers had plugged both ends of the culvert and created a pond for themselves behind it, with a decent size house, and we decided to come back the following weekend. It rained for the next few days, and then turned off cold again, and upon returning to the house, the ice had collapsed. The large amount of rain had pushed through the stuff in the culvert, and the beavers would be unable to fix it from under the ice, the water drained from the pond, and the ice collapsed, leaving the beavers without water or access to their food supply. I returned that spring to look things over, and it didn’t appear they made it through the winter.
It is common practice not catch all the beavers out of a particular house to leave some for the following year, and trappers generally leave subtle clues for others that the particular flowage has been trapped. Maine law says that you have to be a certain distance from the house, and generally the further away you are is the best way to just take the older and bigger ones. I missed my opportunity to take a great picture one year, I was checking sets one cold night, about 10 degrees or so and the air was very still. Coming over the rise to look onto the flowage the moon was hanging in the air behind the house and the conditions were just right to see the steam from the house rising across the moon into the cold night air, and I didn’t have the camera. Maybe someday I’ll be able to paint a picture of what it was like, which was beautiful, as are all the sights and memories of the times I spent in the woods of Maine on the trapline.
I knocked on the door, and the old man opened it and seeing the big ham I had for him said “what’s that for?” “You” I replied. “Jeez, you didn’t have to do that” he said in his downeast Maine drawl. You didn’t have to show me how to get to that pond either” I said as I handed him the Christmas ham. “Now we’re even”. “Ha Ha, ok then, we’re even” he said as he shut the door.
I wonder if that term came from the Great Depression, or even before, when people did a lot of bartering and trading instead of just outright buying things. It certainly has persisted here in Maine. “Making it right”, “settling up”, and “we’re even” are still used quite a bit. Often times a passer by will do something to help someone out, for example, a few years ago my truck slid off the road during a snowstorm and one of the people in town that was driving by helped to tow me out. A few days later I bought him a bottle of rum. I “made it right”.
The old man owned a sand pit where he would crush rock and then sell it. He had a big front end loader and a dump truck. It appeared that he did all the work himself. There was a small road going through the pit that led to a very large tract of woodland that I was using for hunting and fishing. I was always thankful when he wasn’t there when I drove by, I had the impression that he was ornery. It appeared that he had been irritated by the ATV’s that had been accessing the same woodland that I was, so he went up there with a back hoe and dug a big hole so they could get through anymore. In addition, he took a chain saw to one of the old wooden logging bridges up there as well. I didn’t want to cross him.
I was on vacation for a week from work, and was up there each morning. And each morning he would drive up near where I was, and then loop back around to where he was going to work for the day. I thought it was a little odd. So, one morning I walked up to his truck as he was looping around. He rolled down the window, and showed a bit of surprise when I asked him if I was in his way where I was parking. “Hell no” he said sticking his head out the window. “What are you doing up in there?” he asked, looking me over. I replied that I was doing a little hunting. “Do you ever hunt coyotes?” he asked. “Sometimes….” “Well”, he replied, “the state ought to give you a medal for doing that.” I laughed. We actually talked for some time, and I could tell that he thought I was OK. Finally he put the truck into drive, and as he was pulling away he told me to park there any time I wanted.
We would see each other on and off when I would go up there – now he would wave from inside of the cab on the loader. He was a Mainer, tried and true. An old cap jaunted to one side, with a black lab that was always with him. Pierce blue eyes that had energy in them, and looked younger than the rough skin surrounding them. The inside of his truck had probably never been cleaned, and had a layer of dust, receipts, and other flotsam and jetsam within it.
There was a pond up there I had spied on a map that I wanted to get to. I looked at the layout of the land surrounding it, and tried to make it in there on a couple of occasions without success. One day I was talking with the old man and I mentioned I was trying to get in there to check it out, but I couldn’t seem to make it. “What do you want to go way up in there for?” he said and without waiting for a response – “you can’t find a place like that on your own, someone has to SHOW you….c’mon hop in”. It wasn’t really a question, so, I hopped in. As we rode down the woods road he was telling me hunting and fishing stories, and reminiscing about what it was like there when he was a kid. Finally we got to where we couldn’t drive anymore and we got out and started walking. The path was barely discernible and quickly faded out as we headed deeper into the woods. He told me it was a very old hunting trail, and showed me the faint axe marks on the trees made many years before by the people that hunted in there to mark the way. Eventually, he seemed to be lost, and started swearing. I was a little nervous that he was going to have a heart attack from the exercise, or that we would end up spending the night out there, lost. But eventually after much meandering we found a couple of the marks on the trees and pushed on, eventually making it to the pond. It was beautiful and remote, just as I hoped it would be. I looked down and found a giant moose antler there near the bank. We looked around a bit and then made our way out.
I wonder why the gruff and ornery old man decided to show me how to get to a place that was obvious a place that he considered “his” . Perhaps he was showing me because he thought I would use it “right”, or perhaps because he couldn’t get up there much anymore. Regardless, he was passing information to me that he considered secret and sacred. So, when Christmas came a month later, I bought a big ham and delivered it to his house for him and his family.
We were even.
I used to ice fish most of the weekends during the winter on Jordan Pond which is in Acadia National Park. It is a rugged looking area especially in the winter. The pond has mountains erupting from the east and west sides which create a wind tunnel effect and the wind is often blowing consistently there. Jordan Pond is deep – upwards of 150 feet in some places and multiple springs that used to make the portable depth finder on my canoe go haywire and not be able to find bottom. Lake trout (togue) and landlocked salmon are found within it’s depths. It was originally part of the ocean and carved during the last ice age which also left a large erratic rock on top of one of the mountains next to the pond known as Bubble Rock. As the glacier melted till was deposited at the south end of the pond and cut it off from the ocean. On the west side of the pond is an area known as the tumbledown where rocks from the glacial age continue to fall to this day, especially in the spring. On the left side of the pond before the tumbledown is an area known as ice cove where ice used to be harvested in the days before we had electricity for refrigeration. My family still has pictures of the ice being harvested with large hand saws that cut the ice into blocks. During the winter months ice shanties dot the ice which people use to stay warm when they go fishing. They are typically eight by 12 with windows to view the tip ups outside used for fishing. Some have wood stoves in them and some are heated by propane, and some are even heated simply by the sun. I had one of those shacks and ventured out one weekend day when the temperature was 22 below 0. There was little wind that morning but I froze on the way out to the shack. After warming up some by the fire I kindled in the woodstove, I ventured out and drilled the first hole of the day as the sun was beginning to peak onto the ice. The auger I used drilled a 10 inch hole and after getting the tip up out and ready to go, a process that only took a few minutes at the most the hole had frozen enough that I had to break the ice with my foot and re-clear the ice from the hole. I stood and watched as the hole refroze again. I cleared the ice and again stood to watch the water freeze. It seemed to fill up with tiny air bubbles, almost as if boiling water without the rolling boil. I watched the phenomenon a couple of more times, and then drilled a new hole for the next tip up. By then the wind had begun to pick up a little bit and the small smelts I was using for bait would literally freeze solid in the few seconds it was out of the bucket, put on the hook, and into the drilled hole. By this time I was feeling that this was a futile attempt to try to catch a fish, packed up and went home, but I’ll always remember the day that I watched water freeze.