Little Spencer Mountain trail
Climbing the trail: This hike should not be underestimated. The average time up and down can range between 4-8 hours. This trail is comparable to the most rugged sections of the Katahdin trails and Bigelow, however it is not maintained on a regular basis and erosion over the years has changed the original trail conditions. . Please follow the flagging up the trail. The flagging becomes sporadic near the top of the mountain, but you can still follow the trail through the woods to the top. The top of the mountain is marked with a large rock cairn. Arleen’s sluice(est. by Dick Manson and named after Anne Howe’s cousin who had a tumble down it) is about 2/3 of the way up the trail, this is a vertical rock crevice that some guides not familiar with the trail’s history refer to as “The Chimney.” Over the years this section of the trail has eroded and requires the assistance of ropes/rock climbing gear for many to navigate it. Hikers should stay on the left side of the second and third rock slides (going up, and right side on the descent). This hike is not recommended for dogs, small children, or for those hiking alone. There are several sections of the trail with steep drop-offs and loose shale rock that can be dangerous. Hikers should exercise caution during the descent. **Sept 2012 - The ropes left by previous hikers in the chimney are not safe or accessible - hikers planning to use ropes to get up the chimney should bring their own climbing gear or use anything found on the mountain at their own risk & with extreme caution***
Description: trail begins ascent through mixed hardwood forest, crossing a small brook and then gradually increasing in pitch. Winds through a mostly pine /hemlock forest before reaching first rock slide (large boulders). Continues through coniferous forest with large rocks and ferns until it reaches second rock slide. Two large cedar trees mark the second rock slide – (behind them and uphill on the left of the rock slide is a dead spruce with woodpecker holes, if you travel towards that spruce (no trail) and look into the rock crevice you will see a small waterfall “Waterfall sluice” as named by Dick Manson who almost originally set the course of the trail through that section. ) Stay to the left of the rock slide and continue across. You will begin a steep ascent and soon reach Arleen’s sluice. After going to through the sluice, trail continues to ascend steeply as it travels on the left side of a third rock slide and over the top of the cliffs known as the forehead. Once reaching the top of the cliffs, trail becomes wooded again and more gradual ascent with a few short steep sections as it traverses through the boreal forest to the top of the mountain. Views from the top on a clear day include – Big Spencer, Katahdin and Traveler mountains, Ragged and Chesuncook lakes to the north, Misery Gore and Enchanted mountains, Big and Little Kineo, and Eagle mountain, Moosehead Lake, Little Spencer Pond to the East. White cap, Baker, and Gulf Hagus range, First and Second Roach Pond, Jewitt Pond to the West. Looking South is Little Spencer Pond at the base of the mountain, Moosehead Lake, then Squaw mountain (Mtn. with first fire tower in US), with Bigelow, Sugarloaf, Crocker and Mtn Abraham (t he last 4 all 4000 footers) in the distance.
Anne Howe and her daughter Cathie put in the start of the Little Spencer Mountain trail, from the pond's edge to the rockslide. It was marked with old sheeting, torn into strips. When Dr. Richard Manson became a guest of the camps, he scouted out the area above the rockslide, to find the safest way to get to the top. The present trail is where he felt it would be the best. But he made the assent many other ways.
Interesting note: Dr. Manson had been in the Rangers during the Vietnam war and had picked up 60 pounds of rock from the base out West where he was stationed. Those rocks he brought East to Spencer and he took up the mountain, where they are hidden away for some geologist to find and wonder about.
Anne was able to follow much of the climb from the lawn of the camps with her binoculars, thus was able to mark it on a drawing of the mountain face. The next year, walki-talkies were purchased for people to take up with them. Dr. Manson also taught the camp owners how to signal with a mirror. A mirror was left on the top so hikers could let people at the camp know they made it safely.
Once, one of the guests became terrified and froze on one of the cliffs. Her husband radioed the camps, and she literally was talked off the mountain. Interestingly enough, the lumbermen truck drivers picked up our conversation and followed the descent all the way down to when the climbers stopped talking to the camps. A softly spoken dialogue was heard between the two truckers, "Is it OK for us to talk now?" They had maintained silence while the camps were talking the climbers off the mountain (1/2 hours on the radio).
Tom Young Cliffs trail
The present road was built by a bulldozer man from the lumber company, who got lost and used the trail markers to make the road. At that time, the lumber crew did not know there were housekeeping cabins in the area. .Dr. Manson and his young son, Danny, put in the lovely trail to Tom Young Cliffs.
Winter Wren Trail
Winter Wren Trail is the oldest trail. It was used to walk from the cabins to Little Spencer Pond. At one point there is a swampy place that crosses the trail. A tree fell down there and one of the guest, a delightful old man named "Rocky" used to hitch along the log to get across the wet ground. Thus the log was always called Rocky's Hitchin' Log. Near by is a bubbling spring of very cold water. We always kept a metal cup hanging on a tree there, so people could have a test of the water. It was delicious.
The trail was originally called the Little Spencer Pond Trail. It went up the west side of Little Spencer Brook to where Little Spencer Pond dumped into it through a dam that Fred Gilbert made. One summer in the late 1970's, there was a torrential rain storm, and the dam broke, letting all of the water from Little Spencer Pond out, and the mud from the bottom of the pond and the brook flushed out into Spencer Pond, covering a weed bed in the middle of the Big pond.
Later, after the road was built, and Jill and Bob owned the place, they changed the name of the beginning of the trail to the Winter Wren Trail. Bird Watching was always good on that Trail. They also discontinued the trail beside the brook to Little Spencer Pond.
The Pink Truck Trail
The Pink Truck Trail was almost as old as the Winter Wren Trail. Mose Duty used it to get to various sites where he cut fire wood. It started at the northern edge of the camp yard and made a circle to the right, joining the Winter Wren Trail just before Rocky's Hitchin' Log. From there, it went to Fred Gilbert's logging camp on the East side of North Inlet.
When Anne and Chick bought the cabins, the pink truck was parked in the camp yard. And they used it for several years to gather firewood. When the truck finally died, they dragged it to where it now rests and named that old road, "The Pink Truck Trail.
Where the Parking lot is now, there was a huge dump It was at least 10 feet high, and very long. The Dulac's had made it. Everything was in it, from memento's of Mose and Lillian, to left over refrigerators and stoves. Louise Dulac suggest to Anne that when the road was put in, there should be a driveway from the road down to the cabins. As Chick was still working for the Fish and Wildlife, and was seldom at the camps, he would not let Anne use a chainsaw, so Anne cut the trees along the trail she had marked out with ribbon, using a small handsaw and clippers. She thought it was wide enough. Chick did cut a few of the trees that were too large for the hand saw.
Then Anne contacted the forester of the lumber company and made a deal to have the bull dozer operator come down and bulldoze the driveway. Once he got to the dump, she wanted a hole dug and the debris buried and then covered with gravel. Of course the bulldozer blade was much larger than Anne had figured, but the man deftly worked around the remaining trees and smoothed the course. By the time he finished the parking lot, it was large enough to handle all vehicles that stayed at the camp.
Author's note to me*: Chip, you don't have to tell YOUR part of the dozing story...but I can do that too!
Where the Driveway joined the old road now call the Pink truck trail there was an "S" turn. And there were several trail off that, One was where we'd gone after wood, and another came back towards the camps but was in a straight line down into Tom Young Brook Cove. Anne had started working on that trail. Jill and Bob did some work on it too.
Archie's Point Trail
Archie's Point Trail was made by one of the guests at the cabins. He and his wife had been walking the Appalachian trail, when she had a fall, and badly sprained her ankle. Asking questions, they ended up at the camps and stayed with Chick Anne until she could walk. She made use of the library and read with her foot up on a pillow. Archie was bored and finally asked if he could make a trail down to the next point of land we could see from the cabins. Anne helped him, using a compass, and then marking the trail with flagging tape. Not only the guests used that trail, but moose did also
The last trail made by Anne is Bully's Trail. Anne had made a trail there, but only marked it with flagging tape. Everyone loved that trail, as it went from the camps to the road in a fairly large semi-circle. It was much used, as it was well marked and the women felt safe on it And it wasn't too long. Once on the road, it was a simple matter to come back down the driveway to the parking lot and then into the camp yard. During rainy seasons, the mushrooms were abundant. Bully loved to walk there with Anne and her dog Wiley. So when Bully was laid to rest, he was buried at the start of the trail. Anne then took her clippers, and hand saw, and cleared out the trail so it was easy to see and a delight to walk. The only problem was that she worked on it, late in the evening and had to kneel on the path to do the clipping, and the black flies were not happy with her interference. She came back at night a mass of red welts from their bites.
Anne also mentions that when she first went up there, she found narrow roads everywhere from pond to pond, and through the woods. They had been made by the American Thread company, harvesting hardwood trees. Many were grown up with Moose Maple sprouts, and only a game trail running through them. The woods were beautiful, not having been harvested for years. Often there would be a foot thick sphagnum moss on the trails.
^The nice thing about being the webmaster I somewhat control content . . . i.e. I don't have to relive old stories about myself that are best forgotten.