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Old 09-01-2013, 10:45 AM   #1
Rusty Shovel OP
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Wicked Northern Maine

Ah, the blank space on my maps of Northern Maine! Few roads, less gas, lots of lakes, and no McDonalds. I've got a couple days off--it's time to take a look.

All Loaded up! Wolfman Racks with Expedition Bags, Rotopax 1.75 gas can (which will fit 2 gallons if you stand it on it's corner while filling), and a Jared Scaggs rear rack.



Notice the AirHawk seat pad. For me, a trip like this wouldn't be possible (661 miles in two days) without this pad. My butt couldn't handle it otherwise. Highly recommended.



A close up of the strap extenders for the Wolfman/Rotopax mount.



After a droning freeway jaunt, the tarmac finally ran out near Rockwood, ME.



Then the warnings begin.



Shortly after snapping this pic, it started misting--Not really raining. Just a forest mist that made the dirt road more interesting. The roads had been graveled, so slippery mud was only an occasional issue. I was decked out in my rain gear, and everything was in dry bags anyway, so I soldiered on. The rain and low hanging clouds lent the forest additional drama.

There are no gas stations up here. My research only found one spot that offered gas: Pittston Farm. I learned a Pittston Farm that nearly all the roads were owned by logging groups, and that motorcycles of all kinds were forbidden. I wasn't able to drive the Golden Road as I had planned.



I considered camping there, but it was too early to bed down, so I continued along an unnamed dirt road toward Moosehead Lake.

The road was getting a bit rougher, and my eyes were on the road to avoid deep mud filled ruts when I came over a ridge and nearly ran into this:



She was standing on the edge of the road and I locked up both wheels to stop. When I finally did stop, I was only about 6 feet from her rear end. She turned, lazily, and regarded me without too much concern. I, however, was a bit nervous--cow or not, it's still a big wild animal. I sat frozen for a few seconds until she began to wander off. I was able to snap the above shot before she disappeared into the forest.



Several miles of rutted roads later, I reached Moosehead lake.



There was an attendant at the Moosehead Lake Camp. She asked where I was headed. I didn't really have a destination in mind, I just wanted to find the most remote, beautiful place I could and stay the night. She suggested a trail leading to Seboomook Dam.



Seboomook Lake was fantastic! Talk about solitude! I set up my tent at 5p and didn't break camp until 12n the next day. I never saw or heard evidence of another soul. The only sound was the water, the loons, and the wind in the trees. I set up camp right on the edge of the lake.











Despite the sun coming out, I couldn't find any wood dry enough to burn. After a smokey failure, I tried boiling water using some fuel cubes.



But that didn't work out. The cubes just didn't put out enough heat for long enough to boil water. I ended up boiling the water with burning twigs.



Sunset over Seboomook Lake. Glorious. It's too bad I can't include an audio track.



As the sun went down, there was a caddis hatch out on the water (you can see them buzzing around in the photo below). The lake trout went crazy! Man I wish I had my fly rod! Also, notice how CRYSTAL clear the water is.



I ate my Mountain House beef stew and retired to the tent. I enjoyed the night sounds while reading a book. Incidentally, this was my first night on my new Nemo Astro XL sleeping pad. What an investment! Three inches of cushiony heaven. No more sore hips from sleeping on my Thermarest Scout.

**End of Day 1**
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Old 09-01-2013, 11:07 AM   #2
jaredfedex
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wow what a nice area! great pictures
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Old 09-01-2013, 06:03 PM   #3
scootac
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Looks like a great time!!!
So few places anymore with that degree of solitude.

I wish we had loons here in PA,,, such a call they have,,, and their mile-long take-offs!
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Old 09-02-2013, 05:27 AM   #4
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Great report! Really lovely places
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Old 09-02-2013, 04:34 PM   #5
dervish
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Awesome

Keep the photos coming on this one. I am trying to get my wife talked in to a relocation to Maine from Kansas. She's originally from Alabama and 75 degrees gives her the shivers so I'm screwed and must rely on other peoples pictures.
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Old 09-02-2013, 06:27 PM   #6
radianrider
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Head for the Allagash! Haven't seen it in years, but it was pretty wild back in the day.
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Old 09-03-2013, 04:40 AM   #7
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Thanks for this thread. I was up there on my 950 a few years ago. I camped at the lake and rode the logging road to Millinocket I think it was. After awhile I saw the mo m/c signs but kept going.

I'd like to go up there again, but I want to ride dirt roads, so I am interested in ideas. BTW I have a WR too, but it's in Phoenix. I love that little bike. I have a larger tank and flyscreen, but otherwise pretty much the same set-up as yours. I have a KTM 690 here.
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Old 09-03-2013, 08:22 AM   #8
Rusty Shovel OP
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Day 2

**Day 2**

Owing to the fact that I fell asleep not long after the sun went down, my eyes popped open at 5 am. It was chilly, but not frosty. I initially thought it was raining, but the drips landing on my tent were just the trees dropping their morning dew. It was foggy and I could hear, but not see, the water lapping against the shore.



I didn't want to pack a wet tent if I didn't have to. I'd been looking at the atlas the night before and wanted to see if I could gain access to the Golden Road via the Seboomook Dam Road. According to the map, there were no checkpoints to stop me.

Driving in the fog was surreal. The forest really seemed to close in on the sides and I couldn't see more than 30 feet ahead or behind. The roads were a bit muddy, but my agile little WRR had no problems.

Which brings me to an off topic question. I just watched Long Way Round and Long Way Down. Both are documentaries in which Ewan MacGregor and his buddy Charlie Boorman go on globe trotting adventures on BMW 1200GS's. While circumnavigating the globe, they have a hell of a time with their bikes. They struggled with deep sand, mud, Herculean potholes, and, as in Mongolia and parts of Africa, no road at all. They constantly whine about the weight of their bikes--and rightly so, when loaded down those bikes must weigh a thousand pounds. Whenever one of them dropped their bikes, they'd both have to team-lift the bike upright. It looked exhausting.

Am I missing something? They never appeared to go faster than 70 mph during the entire journey, yet were constantly saddled with the monstrous weight of their high horsepower engines. I weigh 220, and was carrying just about everything I'd need for a globetrotting adventure:


Clothing

Helmet Gloves Boots
Wool Socks Jacket Underwear
Tee Shirt Long Underwear Watch Cap
Jersey Baseball Cap Sandals
Rain Gear Swim Trunks Lip Balm


Camping Gear

Tent & Footprint Sleeping Bag & Liner Pad
Lighter Tinder Camp Stove & Fuel
Knife Flashlight Cup
Food Water Bug Spray
Sunscreen Axe Pillow
Book Trash Bags
Waterproof Matches Utensils Toothbrush & Paste
Toilet Paper Compass Lever Soap
Towel Scotch Pad Cell Phone
Camera Headlamp Cables (Ipod, Kindle)
Camera Battery Water Filter Fire Steel 2x Nalgene bottles

Tools

Tire Irons Patch Kit 21” Tube
Tire Pump Spare Batteries Copies of Instructions
Valve Stem Tool Duct Tape Lubricant
Rope 100’ Towel Pliers
Zip Ties Trail Stand

First Aid

Quick Clot Tourniquet Cravats x2
Sterile Gauze 4x4’s x8 Athletic Tape Epi Pen
Benadryl Ibuprofin Eye Drops
Ambien

Spare Fuel GPS Maps
Oil Go Pro Tri-pod

For a more lengthy adventure, I don't think my loadout would change much. My WRR happily carries all this in addition to my fat arse. Even loaded down, my WRR can cruise at 70 mph for hours at a time, yet remain reasonably agile off road. More importantly, on a solo adventure, I can pick it up. I can push it through sand or mud. If I start to slip, I can even dab my foot down to avoid falling in the first place. I can go anywhere a larger bike can go, and many more places besides. Why would anyone decide an "adventure-styled" Gold Wing was a good choice to ride through rough country? I just don't get it. This truly seems to be a case where more is less. I don't think a solo adventure bike should be any heavier than what it's rider can repeatedly dead-lift. There, I've said it. I feel better now.

Sorry for the long aside.

Soooo...anyway, the fog began to burn off as the sun rose. I reached the Seboomook Dam in short order.





Nobody was monitoring the dam, so I was left to my own devices to explore. One of the dam's four spillways was fully open. I don't know whether someone came by and opened it or whether it is automated. The water gushing from the spillway was dramatic. Not Victoria-Falls-dramatic, but impressive nonetheless. Falling in would definitely be a bad idea.





Continuing up the road a bit further, I came to a gate. It wasn't a very secure gate, it was really just a cross-bar running across the road with a sign forbidding access without permission. It would have been easy as anything to ride around the crossbar and continue to the Golden Road. I was sorely tempted. But I'm a law and order kinda guy, so I turned around and returned to my camp.

The lake was even more beautiful in the morning light. AND I DIDN'T TAKE A PICTURE! : Instead, I broke camp, stripped down, grabbed a bar of soap, and made for the lake. I'd expected an "ohmygosh" moment when I jumped in. The water was surprisingly warm. There was a small group of islands that I swam to. It was a longer swim than I had estimated, but a pleasant trip. Steam rose from the water and the loons were my only company. I'm glad there are no alligator's in Maine; wild pond swimming in Texas/Louisiana is REALLY a bad idea.

I soaped and dunked my self three times, washing off all that nasty insect repellant. Re-donned my gear and hit the road. I headed back to Pittston Farm and had the greatest breakfast of my life. Homemade bread, fresh churned butter (from their own livestock), wild blueberry pancakes, and locally harvested maple syrup. Delicious!

I also filled the bike while I was there. They didn't have premium fuel. The way I figure it, regular unleaded to the WRR is like ramen noodles. No, it's not very healthy and you wouldn't a steady diet of the stuff, but in a pinch its better than being hungry.

With both tanks filled, it was time to go!



I wanted to find my way to the Canadian border. Going further North was tough because of logging road restrictions. I began heading east on Soldiertown Road.





I rode about thirty miles down this road before it suddenly stopped. My atlas and GPS insisted the road continued, but it clearly didn't. In the end I had to backtrack. This is why a fuel can is a good idea, even when you don't plan to need it. I went back to Northern road and turned east again on Demo Road.



The road was wide, well maintained, and graded...or as I like to call it, "GS Approved." But would you look at that horizon!



I love driving for horizons like this. Every time I crested a ridge, there was more horizon to chase.

Demo Road eventually intersected with SR 16 and the off-road portion of my trip was over. :

But I still had the reach the border of Canada, if only to tell the guys at work. I rode 201 up through Jackman, where it started to rain cats and dogs. The mountains near the Canadian border were fabulous, sorry no pics.

But here's where my international incident begins. I've lived in California and Texas, so I'm familiar with American border crossings. Before the borders at Tijuana and Juarez, there are clearly marked signs warning drivers about the impending border. There are "last chance" exits that permit you to turn around. Perhaps I didn't see a sign because of the rain. Before I knew it, I was stuck in a chute leading to a customs booth.

No problem, right? I'll just tell them that I don't intend to enter Canada and they'll direct me to a turn around. Instead, the very officious Quebecy customs official informs me that I've already entered Canada, and must go through the customs process.

I was in Canada? Really? I asked where Canada began, and he pointed to a cement post about 50 yards behind me. No "Welcome to Canada" sign? Just an unmarked post? Canada's department of tourism really needs to get on that.

But here's where my problems really begin. Not only do I not have my passport, I'm armed. Legally, of course. Er...I guess not anymore. The customs official asks, and I feel it would be worse to lie, so I admit I'm carrying a .357 on my hip.

You should have seen his face. He actually looked afraid. My gun was under my jacket and rain pants, I had my hands on the handlebars, and I was answering HIS question, yet he looked like a bank teller to whom I'd just passed a note and a bag.

He must have pressed some hidden button, because other people suddenly appeared and just stood there looking at me as if I was staging a one-man invasion. This Mexican (er, Canadian) standoff continued silently for several minutes. I was ordered repeatedly not to reach for my weapon. Ahhmmm, okay. Funny thing, though, despite the perception that they were responding to a crazy armed American invader, I never saw a single weapon displayed.

Eventually a distinguished looking man, who I assume was the big boss, arrived. He was also the only person who didn't look like he was about the crap his pants and go blind. He took over from there. He asked me to pull into a covered bay (thank God, since this whole time I'd been getting drenched in the rain). He examined my ID's. I again explained that I never meant to enter Canada. He gave me back my ID's and told me that the paperwork would be insane, and everyone would be better off if I just went back to America quietly. I asked how I was to return to America without a passport. He pleasantly suggested that was my problem. He walked me to the border and shook my hand. All in all, a gentleman. Good-bye Canada.

I anticipated a problem at the US Border. No shortage of guns there. The border agent was decked out like a SWAT team member. He didn't treat me like a perp though; he was pretty cool. He didn't bat an eye when I admitted I was armed. I explained my mistake, the US Customs official saw the Canadian Customs official waving from the border, and I think they both decided that this situation was better off settled under the table. He looked at my ID and my concealed carry permit and waved me through. The entire process took about 45 minutes.

The ride home was all tarmac, but beautiful.



I intend to complete the Moose River Bow trip someday.



It's a 34 mile canoe trip through some of Maine's most secluded waterways. Perhaps next summer I'd suss that out.

The 201 skirts the edge of the Kennebec River. Very Beautiful.



So then I reached the Interstate, yada yada yada, I made it home. Interstate travel on the WRR is obviously not in the bike's wheelhouse, but I was traveling 70-80 mph the whole way in relative comfort. Thanks to the Airhawk pad, my butt wasn't anymore tired than it would have been on a bigger bike. If I were to attempt an Alaskan journey with a lot of highway, I might invest in a small windscreen.

661 miles in two days. I wish I'd had more time off to explore that beautiful area of America. It deserved at lot more time than I was able to give it. I plan to return for a multi-day trip soon.

Rusty Shovel
D===[#)

Rusty Shovel screwed with this post 09-03-2013 at 08:41 AM Reason: Typo hunting
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Old 09-03-2013, 11:20 AM   #9
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Cool! Beautiful pics.

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Old 09-03-2013, 12:15 PM   #10
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Terrific report and photos! Thanks for sharing.

I have fond memories of my youth up at a camp on Moosehead Lake... either miles and miles on logging roads (I once rode up there on a Honda CB350) or a long boat trip from a dock at the south end. My mother and her husband (not my father) had a camp up there.

I'd love to ride those roads on my GS (small GS :) ) but I guess bikes aren't allowed anymore.

Route 27 from Woburn / Coburn Gore down through Eustis and Stratton is a great (paved) road also. Nice campsite at Cathedral Pines. My last trip down there was last fall and there was SNOW! And it was COLD at night in my tent. (Report here: http://www.i-bmw.com/showthread.php?t=41739


Cheers!


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Old 09-03-2013, 02:07 PM   #11
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Beautiful pictures.

Looks like a fun ride.
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Old 09-04-2013, 12:39 PM   #12
GaryinVT
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Great report, thanks! I'm thinking about hitting the wilds of Maine next summer. I may snag your campsite pics as motivation. Glad your border experience didn't turn into something more; that could have been bad!
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