Last week the semester students left for their four-day wilderness trips. Six groups of students piled into busses and vans early Tuesday morning and drove to various locations in northern Maine. My group visited Rum Pond, a large pond outside of Greenville. After a long bus ride we unpacked our gear and loaded it onto sturdy orange sleds that we would pull to base camp. We packed both skis and snowshoes but the hummocky terrain at the mouth of the trail prevented us from skiing. So, snowshoes strapped tightly on, we began our short, mile long, hike into Rum Pond.
While not technically wilderness, the rum pond area still retains the feel of going into a place untouched by man. At this time of year the pond itself is a stunning expanse of flat windswept snow. After a brisk hike through a stunning old growth spruce forest and dense birch glades it was a shock to emerge onto this vast barren landscape. As we walked to the campsite the wind swept our tracks behind us, picking loose snow in shimmering, swirling clouds.
We camped about 100 feet off the lake in a gorgeous glade of beech saplings, which grow with a silvery bark and, even in winter, hold their shriveled golden leaves like gilded feathers. Camp was set up hurriedly as darkness fell, tents were pitched, firewood cut, and a hole was chopped 18 inches through the frozen pond for a water source. Despite being a frigid -4 outside the group was warm
in the thick winter tents.
The next days were spent exploring the forests around Rum Pond as well as a patch of forest which had been recently clear cut in a logging operation, but was making a vigorous comeback thanks to sustainable logging practice. For our final day we went for a trip up a nearby mountain. Sam Wheeler, an experienced camper, led the group bushwhacking up the mountain. Progress was slow and hard through the deep snow but the breath-taking forest at the top made the trip more than worthwhile. After a little exploring, Peter Sniffen, our trip leader and Natural history teacher, found a moose yard where moose had recently slept. Their bodies made clear indents into the snow and it was interesting that the moose had chosen the same place to stop as we had.
The next day we woke early quickly packed the gear and made it back to school in one piece. Even though we had been away from school for only four days it seemed a foreign place.
– Aidan Cowan, Cornwall Bridge CT