Stars Over Katahdin Follow-up

Thank you to all those who signed up for the 8th Annual Stars Over Katahdin, hosted by Friends of Katahdin Woods and Waters and Dark Sky Maine in a virtual format for the second year in a row.

Thank you also to our generous presenters for providing entertaining, educational, and inspiring programs this year: Nancy Hathaway, Dark Sky Maine; John Meader, Northern Stars Planetarium; Serena Sanborn, Waterville Creates; Jason Gablaski, National Park Service; and our own Elise Goplerud.

Our 2021 Stars Over Katahdin virtual presentation was recorded and you can access the entire webinar here on Friends’ YouTube channel. Linked below you will find the resources mentioned during the presentations. We hope you will enjoy the program for the first time if you missed it on October 14th, or enjoy taking it in again. Please share with your friends and family by forwarding this email.

Our wish is that Stars Over Katahdin inspires you: to visit Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument, to learn more about light pollution, or to step outside on a clear night with a pair of binoculars.

Finally, this annual event wouldn’t be possible without our members. Your support makes programs like Stars Over Katahdin possible. Member support also brought hands-on astronomy programs to 157 students in seven Katahdin Region elementary classrooms–inspiring the next generation of night-sky enthusiasts and protectors!

Resources from our presenters:

Stars Over Katahdin 2021 event graphic
Stars Over Katahdin was made possible with generous support from Richardson’s Hardware and Celestron. Thank you!

—- This blog post was adapted from an email transmitted on October 29, 2021. To sign up for our email list, please email —-

Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument Celebrated 5th Anniversary

Saturday, August 21, 2021

Andrew Bossie
Executive Director

Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument Celebrated 5th Anniversary
Friends of Katahdin Woods and Waters, the official philanthropic partner of the national monument, hosted the celebration of community, the land, and notable developments since its designation in 2016.

Patten, ME — Friends of Katahdin Woods and Waters (Friends) and Maine Beer Company presented the 5th Anniversary Celebration of the establishment of Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument (KAWW) over the weekend. The events engaged over 200 participants, where the public was encouraged to enjoy the late-summer weather through guided and self-guided hikes and excursions, and came together Saturday evening for an outdoor program with speakers highlighting the growth in visitation and infrastructure improvements of the last five years. Friends and supporters marked the evening with gratitude for community and recognition of the beauty, ecology, and cultural resources of the monument and region.

“We are honored to be together at five years with a community that supports and lives in relationship with this land,” said Friends’ Executive Director Andrew Bossie. “As the official philanthropic partner to Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument, Friends is grateful for the many hands, hearts, and minds giving time, talent, and treasure in a community effort to lift up this special place and the aspirations of people connected to it.”

Attendees of Saturday night’s celebration spread out on blankets and camp chairs on the lawn at Shin Pond Village in Mt. Chase and enjoyed picnic-style fare with Maine Beer Company’s Woods & Waters IPA on tap. A surprise performance from contemporary powwow drum group the RezDogs welcomed guests, and the Fogtown Family Band provided music throughout the evening. A brief spoken program included Friends’ Bossie and Board President Molly Ross, Park Superintendent Tim Hudson, and James Francis, Director of Cultural and Historic Preservation for Penobscot Nation.

Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument was created in 2016 by presidential proclamation, following a philanthropic gift of more than 87,500 acres to the United States. Five years after Roxanne Quimby, co-founder of Burt’s Bees personal care products, and her son, Lucas St. Clair, donated and mounted the effort to have the land designated and protected, a toast was offered by now Friends Board Director St. Clair.

“We are a growing community that has come to embrace and support the monument since the designation with generosity and meaningful relationships,” said St. Clair. The generosity of the Quimby-St. Clair family extended to the incorporation of Friends in 2017, and has inspired generous support from foundations, corporations, and individuals and families in Maine and nationwide.

Since the establishment of the monument, access to Katahdin Woods and Waters has increased for visitors seeking the remote natural experiences provided within. “Five years ago, it was difficult to find the entrance,” said Hudson in his remarks. “Now we have new and improved accessible trails, double the number of drive-in tent sites, improved portage trails for paddlers, and of course, road signs – all because of the hard work and generous contributions of park staff, the Friends, and a growing and diverse community of volunteers, donors, and partners across the Katahdin Region, Maine, and the country.”

This year’s Anniversary Celebration will be Hudson’s last in his role with the National Park Service; he is retiring this fall. “Tim’s life and career have been dedicated to the Park Service and conservation of our national treasures,” Ross noted. “His tenure at Katahdin Woods and Waters has been our good fortune.” Ross emphasized Hudson’s leadership and know-how and his unwavering commitment to the protection of the natural, cultural, and historic values for which the monument was established.

Friends thanked Katahdin level business sponsors Richardson’s Hardware, L.L. Bean, and Burt’s Bees; Lookout level sponsor Haley Ward; Deasey level sponsors Frenchies’ Natural Products, Katahdin Trust, Lee Auto Mall, and National Parks Conservation Association; and many others for supporting the weekend’s festivities with proceeds benefiting Friends programs to attract and support park visitors, improve park infrastructure, and encourage revitalization efforts of the region. Friends expressed gratitude also to Media sponsors DownEast Magazine and Bangor Daily News for promoting the event through print and digital ads and content.

Friends of Katahdin Woods and Waters is a non-profit 501(c)(3) membership organization made up of individuals and businesses who are committed to the mission to preserve and protect the outstanding natural beauty, ecological vitality and distinctive cultural resources of Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument and surrounding communities for the inspiration and enjoyment of all generations. To become a member or to learn more, go to


Camping at Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument Expanded and Improved with Philanthropy

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Andrew Bossie, Executive Director
Office: 207-808-0020

Camping at Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument Expanded and Improved with Philanthropy

Friends of Katahdin Woods and Waters, National Park Foundation, and L.L.Bean host official opening of seven new tent sites near Lunksoos Camps on July 21st

Patten, Maine – Friends of Katahdin Woods and Waters (“Friends”), the official philanthropic partner to Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument, unveiled seven new overnight tent sites near the historic Lunksoos Camps on the East Branch of the Penobscot River today. The campground is the first major infrastructure project completed by the Friends, demonstrating the power of the park-supporter community to stand up these public lands nearly five years after they were gifted to the National Park Service (“NPS”) in 2016 by philanthropist Roxanne Quimby through the National Park Foundation.

“Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument was born from an act of philanthropy,” said Andrew Bossie, Friends’ Executive Director, “and we are proud to continue that legacy and improve our parks facilities with our partners at L.L.Bean, the National Park Foundation, the Roxanne Quimby Foundation, and our many members in the community, region, and country. We’ve heard from our members and the visiting public that more overnight camping options are a top desire in the national monument and now we have them.”

The improved camping area includes two group sites and five single-party sites that will be available immediately for public use. Accessible by road and river, the campground was built to NPS standards for walk-in sites and features ADA toilet facilities, one ADA-compliant site, and connecting trails. Campers will find level, well drained sites equipped with picnic tables, fire rings, and bear-proof food storage boxes. Group sites have wood tent platforms nestled into a wooded slope.

“These sites will welcome visitors with tent sites that are accessible by vehicle or boats without feeling crowded and are specifically designed for tent camping with some privacy. This project more than doubles the number of campsites available via monument roads,” said Tim Hudson, Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument Superintendent. “It is a milestone for the monument and our partnership with the Friends of Katahdin Woods and Waters.”

The tent sites at Lunksoos were made possible by three $50,000 grants from L.L.Bean, the Roxanne Quimby Foundation, and the National Park Foundation, as well as support from individual and business members of Friends. The National Park Foundation was able to further leverage the investment made by L.L.Bean by matching this donation with federally appropriated dollars.

At a ceremony at the new tent sites supporters made comments about their involvement and expressed excitement about the future of the monument. “L.L.Bean’s purpose is to enable everyone to experience the restorative power of time spent outside, and these new camping sites will offer a quality outdoor experience in a carefully designed space that honors and preserves its natural beauty and history,” said Shawn Gorman, Executive Chairman of the Board. “We are honored to partner with Katahdin Woods and Waters in this project and to celebrate the opening of the new tent sites this summer,” Gorman added.

National Park Foundation President and CEO Will Shafroth discussed how partnerships are making our national parks stronger in the 21st century. “This team effort demonstrates how partnerships can improve the visitor experience in parks like Katahdin Woods and Waters. These new tent sites are opening up access to more people, expanding the recreational opportunities, and supporting the communities that surround this treasured landscape,” said Shafroth. “With support from generous and inspirational visionaries like Roxanne Quimby and her family, private philanthropy truly enhances the park experience for all,” he continued.

Lucas St. Clair, son of philanthropist and Burt’s Bee’s co-founder Roxanne Quimby that donated the lands to create the monument, remarked about the growing community of supporters rallying for the national monument. “We are just so pleased to have diverse groups of donors and volunteers helping advance this landscape through their contributions of time, talent, and treasure.”

“We are thrilled to partner with these generous donors and our members to add a margin of excellence beyond what public funds alone can do for our national monument,” continued Bossie. “Welcoming student groups, families, and campers of all ages is a shared goal of Friends, the NPS, and our diverse community of supporters.”

The land presently known as Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument and at Lunksoos Camps is steeped in history and present-day culture. The monument is traditional territory of the Penobscot Nation and a crossroads sacred to the Wabanaki Nations, including the Mi’kmaq, Maliseet, Passamaquoddy, and Penobscot; Wabanaki Nations know this area as a center of connecting watersheds and important travel routes. Together with nearby Katahdin, this landscape continues to be a place for social and spiritual connection. Lunksoos was a sporting camp for much of the last two centuries and is known by many Mainers as the terminus of 12-year-old Donn Fendler’s arduous 9-day journey from Katahdin while “lost on a mountain in Maine” in 1939. Recently popular as a put-in for day and overnight paddle treks, campers pitched their tents at a single site near the boat launch in the past. The new sites will move camping away from the busy boat launch, protect natural resources, and accommodate more visitors at one of the most important hubs for recreators in the national monument.

Friends of Katahdin Woods and Waters is a non-profit 501c3 membership organization made up of individuals who are committed to working alongside the National Park Service to help protect, preserve and promote all that is special about Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument. The official philanthropic partner to the national monument Friends celebrates other recent achievements: in 2020, the monument was designated as the first International Dark Sky Sanctuary on the eastern seaboard, and in May of this year, the NPS released its economic impact report indicating the national monument KAWW supported 38 jobs and contributed $3.3m to the local economy. 2021 marks 5 years since President Barack Obama’s proclamation establishing Katahdin Woods and Waters (“KAWW”) as a national monument. Despite its rustic amenities and rough dirt roads, more visitors come each year: according to an NPS report published this spring, 41,000 people visited KAWW in 2020, which Hudson says was a 10% increase over 2019.

The National Park Foundation works to protect wildlife and park lands, preserve history and culture, educate and engage youth, and connect people everywhere to the wonder of parks. We do it in collaboration with the National Park Service, the park partner community, and with the generous support of donors, without whom our work would not be possible. Learn more at


Job Posting: Program Associate

About Friends of Katahdin Woods and Waters
Friends of Katahdin Woods and Waters (Friends) was established in 2017 as a citizen conservation nonprofit working to preserve and protect the outstanding natural beauty, ecological vitality, and distinctive cultural resources of Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument (the monument) and surrounding communities for the inspiration and enjoyment of all generations. In partnership with the National Park Service (NPS), Friends provides a direct way for the public to participate in the continuing stewardship of Maine’s newest park by providing a measure of excellence that can augment and complement NPS management and funding.

Friends’ education program, the Katahdin Learning Project nurtures connections between learners and land in Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument and the surrounding communities. Through guided visits to the national monument and visits to schools across the region, our programs focus on local ecosystems, history, and culture. We work closely with NPS staff at the national monument, a strong team of volunteers, and a variety of community partners to deliver our programs and connect with youth around the region.

Position Description
The Program Associate works as part of a small, dynamic, and fast-growing team of board, staff, partners, and volunteers to design and lead educational programs; support relationship building, day-to-day operations, and communications for the Katahdin Learning Project; and support Friends’ development efforts by writing grants and coordinating/leading trips, hikes, and programs for Friends’ supporters.

This position works under the supervision of Friends’ Education Director. Friends of Katahdin Woods and Waters is undertaking a deliberate, year-plus long transition to a teams-based model and as such the Program Associate will frequently report to designated Team Leads across the organization.

This position will be joining an organization that is in the midst of accelerated growth from the start-up phase to the growth phase. As such additional responsibilities and professional growth are potential opportunities within this position. Candidates who feel they would appreciate the core duties and see the potential for growth, perhaps beyond the core duties, are encouraged to apply.

Core Duties of Program Associate

  • Develop knowledge and understanding of Maine’s Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument and surrounding communities.
  • Katahdin Learning Project (education programs) (65%):
    • Collaborate with the Education Director to carry out the goals and objectives of the Katahdin Learning Project’s recently adopted three-year strategic framework and resulting annual plans
    • Lead research, creation, and delivery of educational programs for youth of all ages on local plants, animals, ecosystems, history, culture, and more in consultation with the Education Director, program partners, and when applicable, National Park Service staff
    • Support the Education Director in the work to implement place-based projects throughout the Katahdin region
    • Maintain and build relationships with teachers, students, and community partners across the region through one-on-one meetings and presentations at regional meetings/gatherings
    • Follow-up with teachers and students to gather feedback after programs
    • Communicate with teachers and program leaders interested in participating in Friends education programs
    • Maintain organization of Katahdin Learning Project program administration including shared google drives, photo drive, and program tracker
    • Collaborate with volunteers and maintain communication before and after activities and events
    • Participate in planning and organization of annual events and professional development opportunities and manage youth involvement in events alongside other Friends staff
    • Support operations of youth trail crews working in the national monument through local partnerships
  • Development and Grants (25%):
    • Collaborate with grants team to seek funding for education programs and Friends operations
    • Provide feedback and edits on drafts of grant submissions
    • Research potential funding opportunities
    • Lead and coordinate hikes, trips, and other programs for Friends members, donors, and community members alongside Friends staff and volunteers
  • Communications (10%):
    • Design print and digital promotional materials for education programs and events
    • Manage outgoing virtual communications from education program through social media and through email/newsletters


  • Strong commitment to public lands and the natural, recreational and cultural features of Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument
  • Experience creating and leading programs on flora, fauna, ecosystems, history, and/or culture
  • Experience working in both indoor and outdoor environments with youth of a variety of ages
  • Self-motivated with the desire to take on a variety of diverse projects
  • Team player who can work independently as well
  • Exceptional interpersonal skills, attention to detail, and organization
  • Passion for outstanding physical and digital organization

Preferred Qualifications

  • Experience collaborating with community partners
  • Experience working in rural communities facing economic barriers
  • Experience working with tribal communities
  • Familiarity with Maine state educational standards
  • Current Wilderness First Aid certification
  • Current Maine Guide license
  • Proficiency with Microsoft Office (especially Excel and Word) and Google Suite
  • Proficiency with Adobe Creative Suite (especially InDesign, Illustrator, and Photoshop) or other graphic design software

Location and Travel

Friends maintains an administrative office in Portland and is exploring opening a second administrative office in the Katahdin region. This position will be based in the Katahdin region (Millinocket through Island Falls), and travel to other locations within Maine is an occasional requirement of this job. Remote work is possible many days of the week, though, this position will require dedicated office time and time in the field. The employee must maintain a reliable car and valid driver’s license.

Hours and Benefits

Health, dental, vision, sick time, Paid Time Off (“PTO”), and SIMPLE IRA retirement benefits are offered to all full-time Friends employees. This is a salaried full-time position with some work on nights and weekends required. The annual salary range from this position is $36,450 and $45,000, based upon experience. We aim to have the Program Associate start in early August 2021.

Please submit a cover letter, resume, and three references to Kala Rush, Education Director, with the subject line “Program Associate”. The priority deadline for applications is July 12, 2021.   

Friends of Katahdin Woods and Waters is an equal opportunity employer. We do not discriminate in employment against persons based on color, race, religion, age, ability, gender, familial status, sexual orientation, national origin, veteran or marital status.

Friends of Katahdin Woods and Waters Inspired by International Dark Sky Sanctuary Designation

CONTACT: Andrew Bossie, Executive Director
Friends of Katahdin Woods and Waters

Friends of Katahdin Woods and Waters Inspired by International Dark Sky Sanctuary Designation

Patten, ME – Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument has been recognized by the International Dark-Sky Association as the first International Dark Sky Sanctuary on the eastern seaboard of the United States and only the 12th designation in the world.

“In the darkest of places, there is light to guide us forward. Beneath the ancient light from distant stars, we remember our solemn duty to preserve and protect those things we hold dear for generations to come,” said Friends of Katahdin Woods & Waters (Friends) Executive Director, Andrew Bossie. “We hope our national monument’s dark skies can be an inspiration to locals, Maine residents, and those around the world,” he continued.

Those eager to behold the dark skies of the national monument can visit the Friends of Katahdin Woods & Waters Facebook page for an announcement video that showcases the night skies. Due to the spread of Covid-19, visitors should check with the official Katahdin Woods & Waters website and local and state authorities before planning a trip.

The designation follows increased public awareness of the dark skies above Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument. In 2019, Friends released the first edition of the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument Dark Sky Guide. A new edition of the Dark Sky Guide is now available online. Print versions of this second edition of the Dark Sky Guide will soon be available from Friends upon request.

“The Dark Sky Guide highlights how our night skies are worthy of protection and hold economic opportunity to attract astro-tourists,” said Andrew Bossie. “Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument reads as a 2 of 7 on the Bortles Scale. In non-scientific speak, that means only places like Antarctica have darker skies than we do.”

Friends is also in the planning stages for the seventh annual Stars Over Katahdin, the group’s celebration of the extraordinary night skies of the Katahdin Region. Each year, Friends works with the National Park Service to gather the public, star enthusiasts, and volunteer-in-Parks astronomers to observe the stunning celestial objects above the Loop Road Overlook at Mile 6.4. During 2020’s event scheduled for September 12th, Friends plans to put a new emphasis on the efforts to preserve and protect dark skies. Friends is also preparing a virtual version of the event in case an in-person gathering is not advisable at the scheduled time.

Friends is excited about the future of the national monument and its new status as a Dark Sky Sanctuary. With a total solar eclipse expected to move directly over the national monument on April 8, 2024, Friends hopes Katahdin Woods and Waters can be a major destination for astro-tourists from around the world.




Friends of Katahdin Woods and Waters Highlighting Darkest Skies East of the Mississippi with Stars Event and New Dark Sky Guide

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, September 19, 2019


Andrew Bossie, Executive Director
Friends of Katahdin Woods and Waters
(207) 899-9983

Kala Rush, Education Coordinator
Friends of Katahdin Woods and Waters
(406) 728 – 5692

Friends of Katahdin Woods and Waters Highlighting Darkest Skies East of the Mississippi with Stars Event and New Dark Sky Guide

Patten, ME — On Saturday, September 21st Friends of Katahdin Woods and Waters (Friends) and Elliotsville Foundation, Inc. (EFI) will host the sixth annual Stars Over Katahdin, showcasing the darkest skies East of the Mississippi for the general public. Friends is also encouraging year-round enjoyment of the dark skies with the release of the newly published Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument Dark Sky Guide.

“Our Friends group is working hard to help build a year-round recreation economy in the Katahdin Region,” said Friends Executive Director Andrew Bossie. “The wealth of recreational opportunities and unparalleled night skies of the national monument provide visitors and locals alike with round-the-clock activities to experience our newest public lands in northern Maine. On a clear, moonless night I’ve watched visitors see their own shadow on the banks of the East Branch of the Penobscot River with the only light from the milky way above.”

This year’s Stars Over Katahdin will offer day-time exploration of the national monument lands and an evening of food, campfire conversation, and a guided viewing of the celestial objects above Katahdin Woods and Waters. Attendees will also be the first to receive copies of the newly published Katahdin Woods and Waters National Dark Sky Guide. The guide includes information on suggested viewing sites, stargazing tips, the impacts of light pollution, and the unique skies above the national monument.

“This new, first of its kind, dark sky guide makes clear just how precious our night skies are and especially how worthy of protection they are in the North Maine Woods,” said Friends Executive Director Andrew Bossie. “Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument reads as a 2 of 7 on the Bortles Scale. In non-scientific speak, that means only places like Antarctica have darker skies than us.”

The Dark Sky Guide was produced by Friends of Katahdin Woods and Waters staff, with the majority of the drafting being done by Summer Fellow Anna Piermattei, a junior at Colby College who brought a growing passion for astronomy to the unique task of building the new guide. The guide will be available for the first time at this year’s Stars Over Katahdin. A paper copy can also be requested from Friends of Katahdin Woods and Waters year-round and a digital copy will be added to the Friends website soon.

“Our night skies are becoming a source of local pride for our community,” said Kala Rush, Friends Education Coordinator. “Through educational and interpretive programming, the national monument has elevated awareness of this increasingly scarce resource in our own backyard. Light pollution is growing across the country and what we have here is just so very rare.”

During the week preceding Stars Over Katahdin, local students have learned about the stunning night skies of their hometowns during school programs hosted by the Friends’ program, the Katahdin Learning Project.  Over 300 students at Katahdin Elementary, Opal Myrick Elementary, and Granite Street Elementary have learned about astronomy during night sky presentations from John Meader of Northern Stars Planetarium.

To kick off Stars Over Katahdin’s events on Saturday September 21st, Friends of Katahdin Woods and Waters Deputy Director Sam Deeran will be facilitating a guided day hike exploring the history, ecology, and geology on the trail to Orin Falls. That hike will leave from Sandbank Stream Campsite at 10:30am. Hikers with small children or a part of a family are welcome to meet Education Coordinator Kala Rush for a Family Hike starting at Sandbank Stream Campsite at 2pm.

“This annual event cannot take place without the support of our Friends group and the other contributors, so we hope that people can come to this event to celebrate,” said Tim Hudson, Superintendent for Katahdin Woods and Waters. “They can also see the night sky on every clear night in the monument, so we invite you to do that – with this group or in solitude.”

Saturday evening, astronomers, Monument volunteers, and star enthusiasts will gather at the Loop Road Overlook at Mile 6.4 for campfire chats (s’mores included) followed by a guided telescope viewing of the stars. Acadia National Park Ranger Michael Marion and John Meader will lead the dark sky viewing with the help of National Park Service Volunteer Astronomers. Carpools and a shuttle bus will be leaving from Sandbank Stream Campsite after meeting at 5pm. Friends suggests attendees hoping to tent overnight book accommodations at the nearby Taylor’s Katahdin View Camps or Pine Grove Campground. Other local accommodations and more details on the event can be found on the Friends website.

Stars Over the Katahdin takes place while Friends, EFI, and the National Park Service continue their collective effort to have the Monument designated by the International Dark Sky Association. The efforts to conserve the night skies of the region were previously covered in the Portland Press Herald’s feature “Let there be dark: Advocates push Maine as astrotourism destination” and The County’s article “Dark skies a resource to protect”. Light pollution maps show that this part of Maine is home to a patch of dark skies larger than any other in the United States East of the Mississippi River. Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument sits in the heart of the dark skies of northern Maine. With a total eclipse expected to move directly over the Monument on April 8, 2024, dark sky advocates pushing for the International Dark Sky Designation hope Katahdin Woods and Waters can be a major destination for astrotourists from around the world.


Community Gathers to Celebrate Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument at 3rd Anniversary Celebration

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday, August 23rd, 2019


Andrew Bossie
Executive Director
Cell: (207) 899 – 9983

Molly Ross
Board President
Cell: (703) 819-2643

Community Gathers to Celebrate Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument at
3rd Anniversary Celebration

This year’s festivities take place as the Monument makes progress improving infrastructure and the visitor experience and helping to revitalize the Katahdin Region.

Patten, ME — Friends of Katahdin Woods and Waters (Friends) and Maine Beer Company will kick off the 3rd Anniversary Celebration of the establishment of Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument this weekend. The events taking place on Friday and Saturday include over 200 participants and organizers are encouraging the public to enjoy the beautiful late-summer weather through guided and self-guided Monumental Experiences.

“We’re proud with the progress our Monument has made in only three years,” said Friends’ Executive Director, Andrew Bossie. “Signs are going up, visitation continues to increase, planning is underway, and local communities are realizing the educational and economic benefits of this special place; we’re excited about the future of the park and for the gateway communities of the Katahdin Region. This weekend we raise a glass with the village it takes to raise this Monument – the people, foundations, and businesses who make this place what it is and what it will be.”

The Saturday night celebration, presented with Maine Beer Company, will include dinner from New England Outdoor Center, Maine Beer Company’s Woods & Waters IPA, live performances from the Magic 8 Ball Quartet, and the raffle, live auction, and silent auction of outdoor gear, experiences, and memorabilia. Following a speaking program and awards ceremony, guests will get the chance to experience the exceptional night skies of the area with John Meader, astronomy expert and operator of Northern Stars Planetarium.

Guests are invited to take part in one of four guided Monumental Experiences during the day before the Saturday celebration. Visitors can enjoy a hike up Deasey Mountain, a hike up Barnard Mountain, a family hike at New England Outdoor Center, or a flintknapping demo with Penobscot Nation Tribal Historic Preservation Officer Chris Sockalexis.

“These August days provide a great opportunity for visitors to strike a connection to the landscape and its history and culture. Our work begins and ends with folks appreciating this incredible public resource,” said Bossie. “In our third year as a non-profit and third year of this park, we’ve worked hard to improve the visitor experience. Just this year, we released a new bird checklist, co-published a new edition of the Map Adventures map of the Monument, and started ground-truthing maps for a new paddling guide. We’ve also provided 1,000 young people with outdoor educational experiences through the Katahdin Learning Project and an inaugural youth conservation corps this year.”

Visitors to the Monument will witness recent infrastructure improvements including a new bridge over Katahdin Brook built by local students working for the Baxter Youth Conservation Corps, improved trails along the Loop Rd at Deasey Pond and the Esker Trail built by Appalachian Mountain Club, and new trail signs put up by the National Park Service. And the long-awaited road signs leading to the Monument should start going up before the year’s end according to Park Superintendent, Tim Hudson.

“It’s been an inspiration for the Katahdin Region to have its youth improving accessibility in the Monument that neighbors their communities,” said Bossie. “The Baxter Youth Conservation Corps is the first youth corps to work in Katahdin Woods and Waters and they’ve made an immediate and meaningful impact, rebuilding a highly trafficked bridge over Katahdin Brook to Orin Falls. We can’t wait for visitors to check it out.” Bossie went on to explain that funding from The Wilderness Society empowered the partnership between the two Friends groups that support the neighboring parks.

During a short speaking program on Saturday evening, National Park Service Superintendent Tim Hudson, Maine Beer Company Co-owner Dan Kleban, Elliotsville Foundation Executive Director Lucas St. Clair, Friends Board President Molly Ross, and Friends Executive Director Andrew Bossie will be sharing remarks. Friends will also be presenting three awards. Receiving the award for Excellence in Volunteerism will be Vicki Richardson of Patten, who has been a stalwart park service volunteer and with her husband donated their family home as an administrative building for the Monument. The award for Outstanding Public Service will go to Chris Sockalexis, Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for the Penobscot Nation, who has played a critical role in the park’s management planning process and helping the public understand the historical and cultural significance of the Monument and surrounding lands. And the Conservation Colleague award will go to Friends of Baxter State Park, who partnered with Friends of Katahdin Woods and Waters to bring the Baxter Youth Conservation Corps to the Monument.

The event is being generously supported by sponsors and individuals from around the Katahdin Region, Maine, and beyond. Maine Beer Company is co-presenting the event for the third time in as many years. To drive visitation to the Monument and attendance at the Anniversary, Down East Magazine has published advertisements for the party in their July and August editions. The Bangor Daily News has published promotions in its print and online publications to help drive visitation to the event, the Monument, and the surrounding communities. Maine business sponsors New England Outdoor Center, L.L. Bean, Lee Auto Malls, and Katahdin Trust are supporting the weekend’s festivities with proceeds benefiting Friends programs to attract and support park visitors, improve park infrastructure, and encourage revitalization efforts of the region. Conservation-minded organizations and businesses, including The Wilderness Society, Patagonia, Natural Resources Council of Maine, Appalachian Mountain Club, and National Parks Conservation Association, who have played a critical role in encouraging public engagement during the Monument’s management planning process are continuing their support of the Monument through sponsorship of this event. Lastly, the local photography firm Pamola Creative donated their trove of photos from the short film “Monumental,” photos which Friends uses to showcase the exceptional beauty and ecological vitality of the Katahdin Woods and Waters.

Friends of Katahdin Woods and Waters is a non-profit 501(c)(3) membership organization made up of individuals and businesses who are committed to the mission to preserve and protect the outstanding natural beauty, ecological vitality and distinctive cultural resources of Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument and surrounding communities for the inspiration and enjoyment of all generations. To become a member or to learn more, go to


Trip Report: Paddle on the East Branch of the Penobscot River from Bowlin Camps to Hay Brook

Story and photos by Sam Deeran, Friends of Katahdin Woods and Waters

On the drive to Medway, Maine, my friend Audrey and I realized it was ten years ago, to the day, that we had made our first journey into the Maine woods together. You can travel far and wide, but the Maine woods will always bring you together again. We were joined on our trip by three other companions: my friend Kate, her partner Ryan, and Audrey’s husky-shepherd mutt Fiona.

We were making our way to Medway where we’d meet with Galen Hale. Galen is a Katahdin Region Renaissance Man; he owns a stove shop, operates a scrap yard with his brothers, and for decades has shuttled trips on the Allagash and Penobscot Rivers. He’s downsized his fleet of canoes in the past 20 years, winnowing from 60 boats to about a dozen. When we arrived in Medway, he had two sturdy Old Town Discovery 169s strapped to his pick-up rack.

The big river and mountain views we’d been dreaming of during a month of planning.

I’ve had the good fortune of getting to know Galen while coordinating this river trip, which took us 25 miles on the East Branch of the Penobscot River from Bowlin Camps to Hay Brook. Galen reminds me that the history of the region lives in the telling of the folks that have called it home for years. In an hour and a half drive with Galen, my friends and I got a grand tour of the region and its history, inspired by waypoints along our drive on the Katahdin Woods and Waters Scenic Byway.

We arrived that night at Bowlin Camps to a warm welcome from the caretaker David. We took a little walk across the Bowlin Bridge and north on the International Appalachian Trail. Excited for the adventure ahead, we dimmed our cabin’s propane lights and hit the hay early that night.

The water was running high that weekend, about 2,000 cubic feet per second. Cubic feet per second, or cfs, is a reading take of the river’s width, depth, and speed, but a number alone doesn’t give an image of the river. David told us that as the water came down from around 3,000 CFS the day before, a new island out front of the camps had emerged.

Loading up our canoes, we had our first and last man overboard – or dog overboard as it were – while loading Fiona into the canoe. Just weeks earlier, river expert and NEOC proprietor Matt Polstein had told a group of paddlers and me about how the most dangerous time in a canoe was often during and just after a put-in.

Fiona and Audrey poised to run the first riffly waters

Starting downriver, the water was quick and wavy below Bowlin Bridge. We passed the Spencer Rips, which most old maps indicate is a single set of riffled water or Class I rapids. It might be easier to just anticipate riffles and Class I rapids intermittently from Bowlin Camps until the river flattens into the silver maple floodplain above and below the confluence with the Seboeis River, a stretch of about 10 miles.

We moved swiftly along. Part of my task on the river was to ground-truth new draft maps and river descriptions in the Three Rivers Paddling Guide. The guide, a collaboration between Friends of Katahdin Woods and Waters and Maine Woods Forever, is available for paddlers eager to run the river and test the map this summer. I had imagined checking in on exact mileages, but the water was just too quick to pause and ascertain my GPS coordinates. I adjusted my expectations and went for ground-truthiness instead. Each feature on the map was indeed there and the maps read intuitively.

An excerpted map from the Three Rivers Paddling Guide (to be published in full in 2021)

Near the Fiske Brook campsite, the river was high enough that it ebbed into the joining stream, creating a dead water which we explored looking for moose and birds. Just as we gave up on the chance of a wildlife sighting and turned our attention to the water downriver, a sloshing noise drew our attention to the north. A moose calf crossing the river. As we loaded into the boats, a bald eagle swooped overhead. Stop looking and you will see.

Aside from campsites, downriver from Bowlin Camps there’s only one human structure, a cabin perched on an embankment where the river briefly curls north about a half mile above the confluence of the Seboeis and East Branch. South of there, the river runs through the magnificent silver maple floodplain. It’s a rare and endangered ecosystem where during high water, the river floods over the massive roots of the silver maples. As we entered the floodplain, the paddling became a bit more work. Where before most of our work was managing the canoe’s direction, now we had to labor to push it forward. We took our time. Since our launch we had paddled for about two hours and already traveled eight miles. While enjoying the slower paddle, a second bald eagle – or maybe the first again – swooped overhead.

Exploring the silver maple floodplain

We settled into the Big Seboeis campsite, which looks north to the Seboeis and East Branch confluence and the rocky head of Lunksoos Mountain, the second big peak on the International Appalachian Trail. After pitching our tents, we set out to explore the surrounding woods where we found painted trillium wildflowers and the medeola virginiana. We gently dug to the roots of the medeola virginiana to reveal the white tuber below. It tastes a bit like a cucumber. Foraging is allowed in Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument, but only for personal consumption. One medeola root per traveler and we turned back to camp to cook the food we carried in.

Painted trillium and the yummy medeola virginiana

Back at the shores of our campsite, we were greeted by an approaching boat with a small onboard engine. There was Galen, his friend Lee, Lee’s son Adam, and their dog Harley. Harley and Fiona were fast friends; the humans, too. Galen and Lee had brought along a cooler with some cold refreshments, an unanticipated luxury for a river trip. Galen, Lee, and Adam were happy to report that it was the first weekend that brook trout were biting. A cold spring had delayed their activity. Waving from the shore, we said our goodbyes, Fiona staring off to the river and her departed pal Harley.

It wasn’t long before another dog, and her human keepers made their way to our shores. From our campsite we saw three boats come down from the Seboeis River. They had paddled eighteen miles from Grand Lake Road to Big Seboeis campsite in just one day. As their boats made it to shore, a paddler with her face obscured by a black bug net inquired, “Audrey?” Audrey and the paddler had met a few times before at the Homestead, a Portland music venue. We got to know the crew of Seboeis paddlers before they made camp of their own. Big Seboeis campsite – a place for rivers and people to meet.

Looking up-river from the Big Sebeois campsite to sunset over Lunksoos Mt

The next morning, I woke in the early morning dark to birds like I had never heard before. An uncountable number, singing their songs, sometimes in rhythm, sometimes not. I left my tent to watch the world wake up along the shore of the East Branch. As I left the shore to return to my tent, I caught a glimpse and heard the slosh of a moose leaping from out of the water onto the western shore. I returned to my tent and tried to sleep while the sky was still its foggy, navy blue.

We set out early into the morning fog after a simple breakfast. Paddling the flat water from Big Seboeis, we passed Lunksoos Camps, the historic site of Dacey Farm and the spot from which a collapsed Donn Fendler was spotted after being Lost on a Mountain in Maine. Less than a mile south from there, we came past the confluence of the East Branch of the Penobscot and the Wassataquoik Stream. In less than three miles, three rivers run together: the East Branch of the Penobscot River, the Seboeis River and the Wassataqouik Stream.

At the historic site of Hunt Farm, the river bends west and then shortly after south. From there, we were hawkeyed looking for a portage takeout on river-right. We were approaching the first rapids of a set of two at Whetstone Falls. Before we could see the rapids, we heard them echoing up through the river valley about a half mile. With the water running high, the rapids were churning something fierce. The sky was turning a pale sprawling gray, a sense of foreboding growing as the river’s jumping waters became our only focus on the horizon.

On our second day with rapids, Ryan and Kate led the way.

We pulled off at a tiny, beachy embankment on river-right, protected from the downstream maelstrom by a sharp rocky outcrop sticking out into the river. From there, we walked down along the rapids, a long, continuous stretch of Class II waves. It takes scouting from several locations to come up with a good course. There was a good, calm lane on river-right, but the way was blocked by a ledge with a big drop. We decided to start center-right and work river-right if we could.

When we set out on the trip, our plan had been to portage Whetstone Falls, each of us being cautious about one another’s paddling experience. A day and a half into the trip, confident of our own paddling and our fellow paddlers, we decided to run this first set. My heart quickened and my eyes sharpened to the challenge ahead. As we set back out upriver from our scouting walk, we saw our fellow paddlers from the night before approaching the portage. We were eager to yield the beach for their safe passage to shore. We swapped water for the high shore as they made their way down to the scouting lookouts to watch our descent.

For better or worse, your intuition takes over when the water quickens and the rapids start dragging you downriver. With Fiona perched on the front of the boat, we had an exhilarating, rollicking ride down the rapids, mostly along center-right – the water being too powerful for us to track too much to the right to that clear lane. From there, the river bends left down towards the even louder set of second falls below Whetstone Bridge. There’s a large pool between the two sets of rapids and we made quick work cutting to river-left to a beach where we set our canoes to go scout the second set of rapids. Looking from the shore and then atop Whetstone Bridge, we scouted the Class III rapids. The approach looked good from river-left, but from there we wanted to track an ambitious diagonal, straight towards less turbulent water between the center two pyres of the bridge.

Ryan scouts the rapids below Whetstone Bridge

Buoyed from the adrenaline and confidence from the first set of rapids, we took to the boats and made our descent. Starting river-left was no problem, but neither boat made it very far river-right – and we risked exposing the boat’s side to the pressing waves by forcing the issue. We each splashed through a massive wave at river-center but made it through with a dozen or so gallons of water in our boats to show for it. Below the falls, we rafted up, sharing the exhilaration of our safe descent, deswamping our boats, and sharing some peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to reenergize after adrenaline had run us ragged.

From below Whestone Falls, the river winds through the Penobscot River Trails land, privately operated by a charitable foundation supporting the Maine Outdoor Education Program and year-round biking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and paddling on the property. We spotted a few bikers on the riverside trails. It’s a lovely, calming part of the river, slowly ambling through myriad eddies and islands, and little riffly water.

About an hour and a half before our designated meet-up time with Galen, we made it to the Hay Brook takeout at the southern end of the Penobscot River Trails land. As if on command, the mosquitoes hatched, launching an assault which even our trusted bug head nets couldn’t withstand. Within minutes both cheeks had a fresh bite, swelling to a lump – always the biggest bumps on the year’s maiden mosquito bite. Galen and his pick-up truck came to our rescue within ten minutes of our take-out. He always arrives early to a pick-up, anticipating most folks move quicker than they’d expect along the river.

Riding back to Medway with Galen, we talked about the days to come, when more paddlers come to explore the river. Things have been relatively quiet on the remote waters of the East Branch, but then again, the secret of the paddling and fishing here has been out for a long time. The native Penobscot Indians have been paddling these waters since time immemorial and in 1857, a Penobscot guide named Joe Polis led Henry David Thoreau down the East Branch. On the river, our thoughts belonged to the moment and our companions, but writing now, I’m humbled to think of the peoples whose paths we followed.

Fiona gets some shut-eye after a long river day

As more people come to witness the wonders of the Katahdin Region, Galen hopes his fleet of boats will grow once more. He’s got some good land just north of the confluence of the East Branch and the West Branch, where he hopes to put some cabins for folks looking for a nice play to stay – to enjoy the Penobscot River Trails, the East Branch of the Penobscot River, and Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument.

Friends of Katahdin Woods and Waters and Maine Woods Forever invite you to help ground-truth the Three Rivers Paddling Guide and to offer your feedback to be incorporated into its 2021 publication. The map is available via mail or email. To request a copy or to get help with planning a trip of your own, please contact Sam Deeran, Deputy Director, at

Trip Report: AMC Thru-Hike of the IAT in the Monument

Story and photos by Stephen Brezinski, AMC Maine Trip Leader

When I wanted to lead an AMC group backpack for beginners and intermediate level hikers, Katahdin Woods & Waters National Monument was the obvious choice for me.  The area features good wide trails over rolling hills, several not-too-challenging peaks with good views, a good size stream to ford, and regularly-spaced good quality lean-to shelters.  The trail we followed is the International Appalachian Trail (IAT), an intercontinental trail that stars in the Monument and continues north through Maine and Canada; and then across the Atlantic Ocean to Europe and down to the Atlas Mountains of North Africa.  We would do only about 30 miles of the IAT’s current mileage of 5,500, southbound from Matagamon Camps to the Orin Falls Road Gate.

We were fortunate to have a mirror AMC group hiking north at the same time we hiked south.  We could exchange cars in the beginning and then meet and exchange keys halfway, so as to hike back to our own cars.  I like hiking south; to quote Tolkien, “it feels like walking downhill.”  We opted for a late July backpack so that the river crossing might be lower than in the spring and early summer, and the biting flies and mosquitoes less troublesome!

The southbound AMC crew, absent the photographer of course, at the north gate of Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument

Day 1 – We left two vehicles at the north end lot across the bridge from Matagamon Camps, where the IAT meets the paved road.  Being a shorter day, the group took the 1/2 mile diversion to Stair Falls, which is a set of parallel cascades across the river formed by a series of hard rock layers folded up at an angle.  We also took a short diversion to Haskell Hut, a riverside cabin favored by cross country skiers and rented through Elliotsville Plantation Inc in the winter months.  Haskell Rock is worth a short visit, a rock pillar in the river made up of 400-million-year-old conglomerate rock, sometimes referred to as “puddingstone”.

Standing atop Haskell Rock. Photo credit: Jamie Walter

All in all, our GPS told us we did 9 miles with a swift pace of about 2 1/2 miles per hour.  It felt to me like at most 5 miles but that may be because the terrain is a gentle rolling tote road along the East Branch of the Penobscot.  Grand Pitch Lean-To was reached with plenty of time to lounge, read, make camp, read and dinner; before the deluge of rain and lighting that greeted our brethren hiking north over Deasey Mountain.  If you like fishing this is the area to do it.

Day 2 – We started early with wet tents stuffed in our packs.  The IAT continues along the river and is a wide grassy or mossy trail allowing us to walk side by side much of the time.  Before lunch, we came to the bridge over to Bowlin Camps, a historic hunting camp that services hunters, fishers, paddlers, hikers, and more. It’s a potential good bailout spot for someone in trouble.  We were hoping for some coffee or lunch but alas, it was not to be.  We did do an exceptional job of knocking away the wetness of the dewy, hanging foliage for the northbound AMC group!  Mid-day we passed the southbound group at Little Spring Brook where we heard tales of their stressful time crossing Deasey and Lunksoos peaks in the previous day’s storm.

The northbound and southbound AMC hikers together in passing on the International Appalachian Trail.

About 2/3 the way to Lunksoos Lean-To, the trail left the river and we started to gain elevation.  At day’s end, the GPS told us we did about 11 miles and 600 feet of gradual elevation gain from Grand Pitch to Lunksoos Lean-To.  Be aware that at Lunksoos Lean-To the water source is a good hike away!  I estimate near 800 feet south along the trail and then downslope another 300 feet to a good quality and bountiful brook. If it is raining, catch water off the shelter roof.  Bugs were no problem at this shelter so we dispensed with the tents.

Day 3 – We left the wide tote roads and hiked largely on narrow forest trails up and over Lunksoos and then Deasey Mountains, about 1000 feet elevation gain and loss.  Be careful over Lunksoos were we found the trail hard to follow in places.  Lunksoos has the most impressive beds of lichen and moss; the trails are so little used these trails are still soft with grass and fallen leaves.  The views from both peaks were glorious and a magnificent change from the gray overcast of the previous two days.  The Travelers, Katahdin and Barnard Mountain were obvious to the west, and many other peaks unknown to our group visible to the east.  The restored Fire Warden’s lookout atop Deasey is worth the visit for lunch.

The Deasey Mountain Lookout

At the trail’s ford over the Wassataquoik Stream, the water was a little deeper and quicker than when we forded it in late August of 2017. This year in late July the 150-foot-wide stream was knee deep for the tall hikers and thigh deep for the more petite hikers.  We crossed in pairs. With the jumble of stream-bed rocks underfoot, I recommend you not cross in bare feet.

The Ford at the Wassataquoik Stream

With the elevation gain our travel speed was considerably slowed on Day 3, about half the speed we accomplished on Day 1.  Day 3 was the most strenuous of the three days hiking but at about seven to eight miles, the shortest in distance.  Mid-afternoon we reached the cars and traveled back to Sherman’s finest eatery.  Despite the rain, a good time was had by all.  The 30-mile walk is not overly strenuous compared to hiking in the Whites.  If you want seclusion this is a great location. Thinking back, my only real regret maybe is that it went to fast, I wish I had walked slower and stopped more.

Stephen Brezinski is a volunteer leader with AMC Maine. For a calendar of upcoming AMC trips, visit the AMC Maine website here. 

Friends of Katahdin Woods and Waters lending free equipment at Head North Ski Days

Thursday, March 14th, 2019

Friends of Katahdin Woods and Waters lending free equipment at Head North Ski Days
The sixth annual Head North Ski Days will offer free cross-country ski and snowshoe equipment to the public at the north end of Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument

Patten, ME — Friends of Katahdin Woods and Waters (Friends) will be hosting the sixth annual Head North Ski Days in the north end of Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument (the Monument) from Saturday, March 16th to Friday, March 22nd. With the help of local volunteers and Friends’ community partners at Elliotsville Plantation, Inc, event attendees are invited to borrow free cross-country ski or snowshoe equipment at the North Gate of the Monument. Friends Education Coordinator Kala Rush will be hosting visitors as well as students from across the Katahdin Region.

“The Monument provides a great opportunity for folks to enjoy the Maine North Woods in winter,” said Friends’ Education Coordinator, Kala Rush. “The Katahdin Region has been slammed with snow this year and the skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling conditions are the best they’ve been in years.”

From March 16th to March 22nd, starting each day at 10 AM, the public will have access to free cross-country skis, boots, and poles provided by Outdoor Sport Institute as well as snowshoe equipment from the Katahdin Gear Library. Volunteers will help visitors set up equipment and can offer recommendations for enjoying the trails system. Adventurers interested in a backcountry overnight experience are invited to reach out to Friends to plan an extended trip.

“Whether you’re out for half a day or a couple of nights, the 16-plus miles of groomed trails offer excellent skiing and snowshoeing with some breathtaking views of the East Branch of the Penobscot, Bald Mountain, Traveler Mountain, and more,” said Kala Rush.

Elliotsville Plantation, Inc. started Head North Ski Days in 2014 to showcase what was then a recreation area before the historic land gift that led to the designation of Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument in August 2016. With generous support from local Maine sponsors Shin Pond Village, Richardson’s Hardware, and Emerald Builders, Friends continues to host the event and offer free equipment for visitors from the Katahdin Region, Maine, and around New England.

“We’re proud to have the support of Maine businesses and organizations that understand the importance of Maine’s woods and waters. The Monument community spans the Katahdin Region and beyond and this event has received support from Mt. Chase, Patten, Millinocket, Farmington, Bowdoinham, and Caribou,” said Kala Rush.

Millinocket radio station The Mountain 94.9 and Big Hits 99.3 in Farmington are supporting the event by broadcasting a Head North Ski Days public service announcement recorded through the Katahdin Learning Project with the help of Katahdin High School students.

The Katahdin Learning Project is Friends’ place-based learning initiative in the Katahdin Region with the intent of getting students and the broader community outside and connected to the Monument. Education Coordinator Kala Rush recorded the radio spot while teaching local students about audio production as part of a Katahdin Learning Project “learning journey.” During Head North Ski Days, students from schools in Millinocket, Medway, Stacyville, and Patten will have the opportunity to enjoy the north end of the Monument with Kala and teacher chaperones.

“Through Head North Ski Days, regional teachers are going the extra mile to help their students experience the wild places around them,” said Rush. “With each learning journey, students are growing their connection to the lands and becoming stewards and advocates of the environment in their own families and communities.”

For more information about Head North Ski Days, please visit the Friends website.

Press Contacts:
Kala Rush, Education Coordinator
Friends of Katahdin Woods and Waters
(406) 728 – 5692

Sam Deeran, Deputy Director
Friends of Katahdin Woods and Waters
(207) 650 – 4074