It was into the Backcountry at Baxter State Park for another backpacking trip with backpacks. Much like the year prior, we had roughly the same group of people and roughly the same itinerary. I dragged my feet a little bit when it came to making reservations so the second night we were set to split up in different areas of the park. Leaving Roaring Brook campground we hiked the 6.5 miles to the Wassataquiok Stream Lean-To’s for the night. Other than Chimney Pond these two Lean-To’s might have the most relaxing and tranquil views in the park. They are so peaceful, I could easily spend a week there sitting by the river. From here we hiked a loop over to Russel Pond where we planned to take a mid day break and catch a little sun. We still had three or so miles to reach out next destination for the night which was on Little Wassataquiok Island. As soon as we sat down, the Ranger came over and strongly suggested we keep moving because there was an approaching storm and the rain was supposed to be quite heavy. We all immediately got up and started moving because the thought of getting soaked wasn’t very exciting. As soon as we arrived at the canoe area it started coming down. We quickly shuttled all our gear over to the island and took shelter under the lean-to. Luckily the rain only lasted an hour before letting up so we collected firewood and started a fire.
The next day was light on the hiking and heavy on the relaxing. We had all day to hike back to Russel Pond (3 miles) so the consensus was to do some canoeing and swimming. The water was perfect for swimming and there was no wind so canoeing down the lake wasn’t treacherous. After spending most of the day by the lake we slowly packed our things and hit the trail. Arriving back at Russel Pond we had to split up because the campground was full. Pat and I were carrying tents so we opted for the tent site and everyone else took the lean-to. Firewood around Russel Pond is scarce if you don’t have any way of cutting it up and since you can only burn whats on the ground it tends to get picked over very quickly. Having an axe definitely helps to break down larger fallen limbs. We ended up with a lot of wood so we had a good sized fire to finish off the day. The next morning I got up early hoping to go for a quick paddle before the sun came up. I made it out onto the water just in time to see a moose eating breakfast at the edge of the pond. I didn’t want to get to close but I was able to grab a few pictures before he took off. I paddled back to the dock and walked up to the lean-to. We all ate breakfast and packed our bags for the 7 mile hike back to the car. On the hike back, Steve fell victim to a broken and wet bog bridge that landed him in the center of a mud hole. Nothing a dip in the river wouldn’t fix!