Ebb and Flow – June eNewsletter
A guide’s East Branch #parkstory, teen adventures, park upgrades, paddling safety, and more…
The calendar has officially declared that summer has begun, but our bodies and heads might not believe it yet. We’ve endured a tenacious pattern of wet, cool weather in the Katahdin region and across Maine. Some things are as we expect them to be: the lady’s slippers are in bloom, deer antlers are soft with velvet, and the chorus of hungry songbird chicks plays on repeat in the forest. The Maine Turnpike and Route 1 are increasingly thick with cars on Friday afternoons as they are each summer, but each year a few more make it up to the monument and region. We talk about change this month in a #myparkstory chat with legendary Maine Guide Kevin Slater. Read on to learn about an exciting collaborative effort to get 6-12th graders into the woods and plant the seeds of what their future careers could be in the Katahdin Region.
Whether you live next to the national monument or are dreaming of your first trip, we encourage you to check out the resources on our website at friendsofkww.org/visit, and if you still have questions, drop us a line! Because we know memories of a lifetime are made in the north Maine woods, we invite you to make new memories this summer at Katahdin Woods and Waters.
My Park Story – Inspired by the National Park Service, throughout the year we are sharing stories of meaningful place-based experiences in Katahdin Woods and Waters.
In 50 years of paddling the East Branch of the Penobscot, he’s learned that every paddling trip is a new experience–and he is an important witness to changes that slowly span the decades. In a recent conversation with Kevin Slater, co-owner of Mahoosuc Guide Services, he talked about the crucial data to watch when planning a river trip, the importance of water safety, and the historically low water levels in northern Maine rivers this spring.
Join us on social media: post your adventures on Facebook and Instagram with the hashtags #MyParkStory and #KatahdinWoodsAndWaters.
A Monumental Welcome reaches audiences far and wide
It’s been just a month since Friends hosted our announcement of A Monumental Welcome campaign in Bangor. We are thrilled with the response from our community and from those learning about Friends and Katahdin Woods and Waters as a result of the news coverage. Wabanaki Advisory Board and A Monumental Welcome steering committee member Natalie Dana-Lolar spoke of the importance of “tendrils” reaching out into the world from Tekαkαpimək–and through this campaign, we are proud to be a part of this historic effort. We invite you to learn more and become a part of A Monumental Welcome.
Woods and Waters Day – Join us on Saturday, August 19th
Friends’ annual celebration of the designation of Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument has a new name: Woods and Waters Day! We have also moved the party from an evening celebration to lunch so that more folks from around the state can plan a day trip for the event. Expect great food, live music (Orono’s Tough End String Band), and good company from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m under the pavilion at Shin Pond Village in Mt. Chase. And there’s more: on this day only, the public can get a sneak peek at the new Tekαkαpimək Contact Station during a special open house in the afternoon. Save the date–we’ll share more details and registration soon. Hope to see you there!
Friends and NPS get on the water!
Last week, Friends’ staffers Meghan, Kala, and Elise spent the day canoeing with NPS on the East Branch of the Penobscot River. They put in (fittingly) Old Town Penobscots at Lunksoos Camps and paddled down to the Whetstone Bridge. Along the way, Pack Raft Maine founder and guide, Alejandro “Alex” Strong, provided incredible instruction. Alex is a strong advocate for the monument and was eager to hear from NPS about park improvements in the works. On the water, he began with the basics, such as parts of a paddle and paddle techniques. As the day progressed, the instruction became more advanced. The crew p
ulled over above some rapids to scout and learn how to read the water and navigate whitewater successfully. They learned safety and rescue techniques should an emergency arise on the river. It was a fun and meaningful day for Friends and NPS–paddling together and challenging themselves in the whitewater.
It’s been an unusually dreary spring, yes, but recent rainy weather has also brought unexpected recreational opportunities- canoeing, fishing and taking in the vivid green foliage at its peak. After a disappointing April, the Seboeis River filled with rushing water in late May to provide a second chance for a run. We can’t wait to share a trip report with you next month!
Teen Summer Adventures with Katahdin Learning Project
School is out across the region, but KLP staff will have just a moment to catch their breath before gearing up for a busy summer! Education Director Kala Rush, Education Coordinator Elise Goplerud, and seasonal Place-Based Educator Maggie O’Hara (hired as a recent graduate of Katahdin High School!) will be on the trails with local youth in collaboration with several community non-profits. In a series of introductory-level, inclusive day and overnight trips, rising 7th-10th graders will learn about the natural world and their own strength and resilience while hiking, paddling, mountain biking and camping in the Katahdin Region. This program is supported in part by the Maine Department of Education’s Forestry Stewardship and Career Pathways grant program, and is an embodiment of KLP’s and Friends’ commitment to the strategic priorities of building relationships and deepening impact on youth through place-based learning in the national monument and region. Local parents of teens–there are spaces remaining! Choose one or sign up for all six here.
Park News – NPS Hires, trail improvements, and Overlook planning!
Friends reached out to Katahdin Woods and Waters’ Facility Operations Specialist, Christopher “Dewey” Loft, for a glimpse into park operations heading into the summer. Wow! Check out these highlights below, and if you are headed into the monument this summer, be sure to say “thank you” to the park service staff working to keep your experience safe, accessible, and fun while protecting the natural and cultural resources on the land.
Katahdin Woods and Waters welcomes Robert Weaver as the new Maintenance Worker Supervisor–helping Dewey better manage KAWW’s many roads, trails, and facilities. He joins the team with 14 years experience of roads and trails construction and management. He comes most recently from Sequoia National Park in CA, and they are very excited to have him on the team.
The Trails Crew is working hard to clear the trails of blowdowns from this last winter. As of last week, all trails had been cleared except for the stretch of the International Appalachian Trail (IAT) from Bowlin Camps to one mile south of Deasey, and “this last section should be finished any day.”
On June 26th, the six-person crew from Maine Conservation Corps will arrive for the season! This year, they will work on the IAT segment that runs through the national monument by opening up the trail corridor and correcting signage to make the trail much more user-friendly.
NPS maintenance is set to begin work on the Lynx Pond trailhead. Work will include making a connector trail from the parking lot to the ADA trail and building an ADA parking space near the trailhead.
Perhaps the most-photographed spot in the monument, the iconic Overlook at mile 6.4 on the Loop Road is getting a makeover. A final design plan has been contracted and will include ample parking spaces and improved traffic flow for vehicles and pedestrians. Future visitors will have access to ADA restrooms and trails, as well as some interpretive exhibits. Construction should begin by mid-summer 2024. The Overlook project is one of many priority park projects funded by A Monumental Welcome!
- The Katahdin Collaborative, a network that supports people and groups working to revitalize the Katahdin Region, is thrilled to announce that they have hired Tracey Perry as the Initiatives Director! As an active collaborator, Friends looks forward to working together to build a sustainable future for the region.
- June is Pride Month! Celebrate inclusivity in the outdoors by learning how to be an ally and supporting organizations that provide safe experiences for those who have been excluded and harmed by social expectations about who “belongs” in the woods. The Venture Out Project is one New England organization doing that.
- ICYMI–the Millinocket XStream race was wildly fun and raised more than $2,000 for the Katahdin Gear Library! Check out the photo album on their Facebook page and start planning for next year.
- Recreating on the water has risks, and it is important to understand them. NPS has helpful guides to water vessel safety and water hazards for folks starting out paddling.
Sponsor Spotlight – Thank you to Lookout level sponsor L.L.Bean! A lead contributor to A Monumental Welcome capital campaign, proud supporter of making the outdoors accessible to all, and a great Friend.
—This blog post was adapted from an email transmitted on June 22, 2023. Sign up for our email list at friendsofkww.org/signup.