After a delicious breakfast at Pittston Farm – complete with Guy’s homemade donuts – we packed camping and fishing gear into the car. In our beat up Ford Explorer we had miles to go on dirt roads before we made it to an access point for Fifth Pond. From the road, we flushed both Gray Jays and a Spruce Grouse, boreal species of birds. A moose trotted off down a side logging road, turning to stare at us with its giant head and shaggy fur.
Brian and I experienced an interesting spring in the Maine North Woods. Though we were already in the thick of mid-May, the season had definitely arrived late. Buds and new leaves just barely poked their bright green heads out of protective sheaths, and the landscape retained a brownish tinge. However, as we spent our three days near the headwaters of the Saint John River we could actually watch the greening of the landscape unfold before our eyes.
Before we set up camp at Fifth Pond, we stopped at Baker Lake, also part of the headwaters. The water body was wide and blue, a mountain rising in the distance. The small campground near the road was full, and as we watched a pair of anglers launched their boat to troll for muskies.
Brian and I made it to our own isolated campsite two ways: he paddled up the river with the canoe and most of the gear, while I walked along a rough, muddy road that led straight to the pond outlet. Our campsite was perfect; a grassy knoll, complete with a picnic table, looked out over the rocks of what was once a dam. We pitched our tent in a flat, green expanse right on the water, within easy view of potential evening fish rises.
Remnants of the region’s logging history sat quietly all around us, from the submerged logs in the pond, collapsed buildings receding into the forest, and giant stone grinders. I’m ever reminded that there were probably more people in this region a century ago then there are now!
At sunset, we took the canoe to the pond, watching the sky turn pink and the white moon rise over the horizon. Loon calls echoed around us; the water shone glass-calm. As night set in, we crawled into our test, lulled to sleep by the murmur of the falls over the old dam.
—by Erika Zambello