17-Mar-2001 -- This weekend I visited my sister, Reb, and her dog, Skye. They live up near Augusta
in a cool geodesic dome. On Saturday we got in my sister's truck and drove west fifty miles to
go for a snowshoe to 45°N 70°W. The drive is pleasant, with views of Maine's Western
Mountains, frozen rivers, and delightful trees. We turned off onto a dirt road and drove a mile
or so to where our maps showed a logging road leading toward the confluence. The truck was
parked near a pasture with a horse who watched us curiously. We were a mere 2.1 miles
west-southwest from the confluence, and the weather couldn't have been better.
Snowshoes were a necessity. The snow ranged from deep to extremely deep. Certainly
it was deeper than our hiking poles, which are around 4 feet long. The surface ranged
from crusty and hard enough to support our weight to soft and mushy. The snow was
wet and heavy, which made for very arduous travel.
We started on the logging road, which was fairly broad. Very shortly the road went UP,
climbing 800 feet in perhaps twice as much distance. With the wet snow, this was very
tiring. Skye, being a husky, wanted to be in front, but she kept sinking up to her chest in
the snow. She eventually accepted that she had to let the humans break trail for her. Behind
us was an amazing view of the mountains, which we stopped to enjoy often, it being a good
excuse to catch our breath. The road initially headed too far to the south, but a side road
turned in the desired direction.
For the first mile or so, the snow was pristine, with our footprints being the first since the
last few big snowfalls. As the big hill leveled off, we encountered a set of snowshoe tracks
heading in from the south. We were both fearing and hoping that it was another confluence
hunter. His tracks staggered about a bit as if he was very tired.
The three of us stopped for lunch at a log landing. The GPS and compass claimed that
the confluence was to the northeast, while the road continued to the northwest. We could
see the other snowshoe tracks leading down the road and turning off to the west; they were
not of a fellow confluence hunter.
After lunch we started down a skidder trail leading in the correct direction. This soon
vanished and we began a bushwack through deeper snow and up a steep slope. The
trees abounded with song birds. Throughout the entire trip we had been seeing all sorts of
tracks, including rabbit, weasel, deer, and moose. Here in the woods we found moose sign,
and came across a moose yard (where the moose spend the night). We clambered up the
hill, which was an enormous effort, especially for Skye who had to leap between successive
At the top of the rise was another log landing. I had been breaking trail but got stopped
by a downed tree buried three feet or more in the snow. Reb took over for a while, and we
got up to the landing. The landing could have been reached via logging roads, which would
have been longer in distance, but much less in time and effort.
We continued on the logging road. The ice crust on the snow would break up as we
punctured through it, sending ice skittering across the sun-glazed frozen surface and dropping
down the side slope. A short descent followed, leaving us a mere 0.08 miles from the
To actually reach the confluence we had to wander through the woods, but this was
comparatively level (even if we were crossing some small streams), so was pleasant. We
meandered about a bit, finding 45°N 70°W along a small stream in some delightful
woods. We stopped for photographs and cookies. It had taken us three and a half hours
to get to the confluence, having covered a little over three miles.
The return was vastly easier, being mostly downhill and almost all on broken trail. At
long last the truck came into sight. The total round trip took six hours. We were very tired