Kirk and Cheryl St. Peter met Bill Duffy and Josh Bowe at Sandbank Stream Campsite in Katahdin Woods & Waters National Monument (KWW), reviewed and initialed the appropriate Job Hazard Analysis forms (JHAs) as part of a tailgate safety meeting, and completed other required National Park Service (NPS) paperwork, then headed out to the Wassataquoik ford. While Kirk, Bill & Josh crossed the ford and investigated a possible alternate route to get to Lunksoos Lean-to, Cheryl mineralized the area around the Wassataquoik Lean-to fire pit and photographed the log book entries. She then drove the loop road to the Barnard Mountain trailhead parking and worked at the Katahdin Brook Lean-to (mineralized around the fire pit, lopped brush around the site and up the trail to the privy and photographed log book entries).
After returning to Sandbank, it was determined that the alternate route explored today was not feasible and that we would all cross the ford tomorrow and clear the trail at least up to the old Fire Warden’s Cabin, leaving a chainsaw at the cabin for work on Saturday. Don Hudson and Cliff Young arrived to help with the work tomorrow.
September 15, 2017
After reviewing the appropriate JHAs during a tailgate safety meeting and signing/initialing NPS forms, all six workers (Kirk, Cheryl, Bill, Don, Josh, and Cliff) drove to the Wassataquoik trailhead parking, crossed the ford and cleared trail north to the Fire Warden’s Cabin, with Kirk and Josh leapfrogging each other and using chainsaws to clear the multiple blowdowns. Everyone else used loppers and/or handsaws to clear brush; a few tags were added. We stopped at the cabin for lunch and left the smaller chainsaw there for work tomorrow. A few older trees that could be stepped over were left due to the time.
After returning to Sandbank, we determined that Bill and Cliff would investigate an alternate route to Lunksoos Lean-to tomorrow by crossing the Wassataquoik where the IAT diverges from the trail to Orin Falls and then heading straight up past the east side of a pond to old logging roads, flagging the route if it appeared useable. Kirk and Josh would go the other way, following the IAT, while clearing blowdowns from the Fire Warden’s Cabin north. Cheryl and Richard Heath, who arrived that evening, would wait for Tom and Naomi Lynch (arriving in the morning) and do some additional work on the trail with loppers at least to the Fire Warden’s Cabin.
September 16, 2017
Kirk and Josh followed the IAT to the Fire Warden’s Cabin, where they picked up the chainsaw and cleared approximately a dozen blowdowns from there all the way north to Lunksoos Lean-to. Between the summit of Lunksoos and the lean-to, they met Bill and Cliff going the other way (they had stopped at the lean-to and mineralized around the fire pit). Kirk and Josh continued, following the alternate loop route that Bill and Cliff had flagged with orange flagging back to the Wassataquoik (potential trail name “Dave’s Cutoff” recommended by Earl Raymond due to his and Dave’s exploration of this route and all of Dave’s hard work on the trails). Bill and Cliff continued south on the IAT back to the trailhead. Cheryl, Richard, Tom and Naomi moved some posts with tags at the beaver dam crossing, then brushed the trail towards the Fire Warden’s Cabin. Since Naomi did not feel well, she and Tom turned back at the lookout and Cheryl and Richard continued to the cabin. Cheryl waited for Richard there as he continued to Deasey’s summit with loppers.
The IAT from Wass. ford to Deasey’s Summit is in excellent condition, with a developing treadway and it is mostly clear of brush, with sufficient tags for a novice to follow. There are a few old blowdowns that can be stepped over. There are also two very active ground hornet’s nests: one along the Wass. north of the beaver dam crossing and one near the lookout.We left a post with tags at the first “beaver dam” post, which should be taken up to another turn where we determined that a post would be useful. There is a rusted and broken eye bolt on the NW corner of the Deasey Fire Cab that needs to be replaced. The IAT from Deasey’s Summit to Lunksoos Lean-to is free of blowdowns, but could definitely use significant additional brush clearing. A small shovel could be left at Lunksoos Lean-to for ease of mineralizing the fire pit. There is an approximately 11½ mile route that could be developed as a useable loop trail from the Wassataquoik trailhead following the IAT to Lunksoos Lean-to, continuing on an old logging road and an older trail (that would require additional investigation and clearing) to cross the Wassataquoik at the junction of the IAT and the Orin Falls trail, back to the trailhead.This route also allows for trail workers to continue working over Deasey and Lunksoos to the lean-to with an easier downhill route back.
On Saturday September 16, 2017 EPI (Elliotsville Plantation, Inc) sponsored a hike along the IAT (International Appalachian Trail) to Barnard Mountain overlook. The group met at Sand Bank Campground and then travelled to the parking area on the IAT where the hike would begin.
There were twenty people who had travelled in two busses from the Bangor “Y” thanks to a National Park Foundation Transportation grant they have used for multiple excursions to the Monument over the past year. The older ten were members of a group called “second wind” and were guided by Maureen. The younger student group of ten had their own guides.
After a short introduction to the group about the KWWNM (Katahdin Woods and Waters) area, and the IAT that they were about to follow, both groups started for the overlook on Barnard Mountain.
The younger group headed directly up the IAT Trail and on to the summit while the older hikers proceed at their own pace, some of them reaching the summit. The students spent time enjoying the view from the summit and the surrounding area. They had another information session about the history of the area and the view they were seeing to the west of Katahdin Lake and Katahdin.
On the way back some of the group met two young IAT through hikers who were following the IAT into Canada and on to Gaspe, Quebec. Their trail names were SCALLYWAG & GIGGLES and they had hiked the 2000 plus mile Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Katahdin after starting in Pensacola, FL in March of this year.
It was a beautiful Maine September afternoon and a successful adventure after which both groups attended the camp fire and star viewing.
In Ed Werler’s Book, The Call of Katahdin, he mentions a location called Bark Camp Meadow on the East Branch of the Penobscot River.
The year was 1947 and Ed, along with his wife Mary Jane and two dogs, had agreed to spend that fire season as Warden at the Daicey Mountain Fire Lookout. There was a warden’s cabin about halfway up the mountain where they would be living for several months and they needed to get their food and household gear “wangan”* up the East Branch of the Penobscot River from Grindstone, where the East Branch met the road, to the trail at the foot of the mountain leading to the warden’s and the fire cabins. This was a distance of about 16 miles upriver.
They met their riverman “Bink” and loaded their “wangan” and headed up river in a 20 foot Old Town canoe. They spent the first night at Whetstone cabin and the next day arrived at a place that Bink called Bark Camp Meadow. It is a shallow meadow, about 150 acres, on the west side of the East Branch and can be easily accessed from the main river. According to Ed: “Bink told us that years ago this had been the site of a woods camp where Hemlock logs were stripped before the bark was hauled to tanning factories down river, where the bark’s tannin was crucial to the tanning process”.
The East Branch of the river showing the Bark Meadow landing and the tote road.
Here there was a small shack six or eight foot square with a tin sign on the door PREVENT FOREST FIRES – MFS. This would be their storage building. There was a tote road along the river at this landing leading to the trail to the warden’s camp a short distance South.
This photo is on the meadow side of the tote road at the former location of the storage building. There is no evidence of the storage building today. Note the logging cable that has grown into the tree.
The Monument Line sign on the tote road just south of Bark Camp Meadow
Why the name, Bark Camp Meadow?
Tanning was a very large industry all over the Northeast, wherever there was a plentiful supply of Eastern Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis). Between 1840 and 1880, it was one of the leading industries in the State of Maine and by 1880 it was the number two industry in Maine, with hides being sent to Maine from all over the world even from such distant places as China and Australia.
At one time, the largest tannery in the United States was in Winn, Maine and the most northerly was in Bridgewater, Maine. This probably was because of the scarcity of Hemlock north of this area.
Extensive areas of Hemlock were cut, the bark stripped and the logs were left to rot in the woods.
There were huge mounds of bark left in the woods that did not rot. Unlike in the South, where slash left from logging rots in a very short time, our cold climate in the Northeast preserves the bark. There were still piles of bark covered with moss in the woods in the early 1950’s.
The process of peeling, yarding and hauling the bark to the factories is described in Appendix I of A History of Tanning in the State of Maine by Archibald Riley. This report was for a Masters Degree in Economics, but the Appendix is entirely about woods work and how the men lived in temporary shelters during the peeling season from the full moon in May to the full moon in August. All work was done in warm weather using temporary rough board camps or tents. This operation did not require the permanent buildings needed for logging in the winter in Maine.
The May to August time period is very important, because it is when the trees are growing very rapidly, creating new wood which is soft and slippery under the bark. Later in the season the layer has dried and tightened, making it much more difficult to peel the bark.
The cook was the most important person in the crew. He prepared four meals per day, breakfast and supper at the camp and two lunches in the woods. The cook did all the cooking and baked bread and pies for breakfast for the men. His “cookies” assistants did all the other chores, providing wood and water, cleaning up and delivering the lunches to the men who were working in the woods.**
The crews worked 11 hours a day beginning at five AM and ending at 6 PM with a one hour lunch break in the morning and afternoon.
A crew consisted of four men: a chopper, a knotter, a ring and splitter and a spudder.
With an axe, a ring was cut round the base of the tree and another ring four feet up. Then the bark was split down one side with an axe from ring to ring. A spudder inserted his spud into the split and forced the bark from the tree. A spud is a tool like a very large carpenter’s chisel, curved at the end to fit the shape of the log, with a handle some two to five feet in length. After the bark was forced from the tree, the chopper then felled the tree and the knotter trimmed the branches. The crew then continued ringing and splitting in four foot lengths and the spudder followed. The bark was put up in small piles near the felled tree and collected into larger piles along roads for loading on sleds drawn by teams of horses, for hauling to the tannery. Bark hauling began as soon as there was snow enough to make good sledding. Two cords of bark was about the average load with two horses in fair sledding. A bark hauler, that is, a man and team of two horses, ordinarily received from thirty five to forty dollars a month and board. In 1935, when the Riley report was written, wages for the men averaged about $20 dollars per month and board.
The felling and barking of Hemlock trees was rendered obsolete by the development of chemical processes for tanning hides. The tanning industry, once so prevalent in Maine, has largely disappeared from the state. Bark Camp Meadow still remains!
*wangan is a broad term by used by woodsmen and is taken from the Abenaki. In this case food, household gear, tools and necessities.
**The last project that was done in Maine where the workers lived and worked in the woods for months at a time with a cook and cookie was undertaken by the James W. Sewall Company of Old Town on the Allagash Wilderness Waterway 50 years ago. Felix Cote was the cook and he had worked for the Sewall Company part time for many years. His son in law Joe Sapiel was his cookie. They started with a survey crew at Telos Lake in June. The survey was completed in October at the town of Allagash more than eighty miles from Telos.
Earl Raymond is a Board Member of The International Appalachian Trail and a VIP for KWWNM.
Length: 650 kilometers (404 miles) Location: Canada, Province of Québec, Gaspé Peninsula Trail Type: Thru-hike with many options for day hikes and section hikes, divided in three territories
The Valley (115 miles) The trail goes through some forests and farmland, the first few days sees some steep climbs and a couple of river fords, but it smooths out afterwards.The Chic-Chocs (156 miles) The trail follows the peaks of the Chic-Chocs and McGerrigle mountain ranges. Very remote and rugged section, especially in Matane Wildlife Reserve. Some of the best views are in Gaspésie National Park with summits above treeline.The Coast (134 miles) The trail goes from village to village along the St-Lawrence river. This section is generally easier, but it still climbs from time to time in the mountains near the coast.
Navigation: Official guidebooks and maps can be found on the IAT website
Trails are often designed and built for a specific purpose. The first 50 or so miles along the IAT, heading south from the border crossing, has become a multi-use trail, but not by any grand design or plan.
After two years of planning, construction, and cajoling, Earl Raymond, Maine IAT’s official surveyor and trail router extraordinaire, was joined by a group of Maine IAT board members and friends on Deasey Mountain to install a replica of the original alidade used by wardens to pinpoint the locations of forest fires in Maine’s north woods.
An alidade consists of a circular map, oriented to align with true north, and a center mounted horizontal bar with two vertical sighting vanes.
The bar is rotated while the fire warden sights through the vanes on a distant object (a wisp of smoke, for example). The warden can then note the bearing of the object on the map. When a second warden on a different mountain sights on the same wisp, the two bearings can be be used to triangulate the location of a fire.
After installing the device, Earl gave his group of helpers (all of whom managed to squeeze into the small 8 x 8-foot lookout cabin) a quick lesson on alidade use which you can see on this YouTube video.