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Maine Nature News

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Maine Nature News

Important Notice

The Maine Legislature has banned the bringing of firewood into Maine.
( Sec. 1. 12 MRSA § 8307)
    Also the practice of transporting firewood for a distance of more than 50 miles from home, even within the state is discouraged.
This is due to the threat of invasive insects that are transported in the firewood.
     Out of respect for the landowner and the north woods, we no longer allow firewood to be brought into camp in order to protect the forest from invasive insects.
     We do have firewood for sale at the office. For more information please click on the link.



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"What's happening in these here parts of Maine"...
March 2019



It is still winter at Frost Pond. Not so as you would notice it, but just a little bit!

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I started in to shovel roofs a couple of weeks ago. The first thing that happened is I got the truck stuck in a big snow drift before getting out of sight of the dam. You know, one of those hard packed ones that once the plow goes over the top, it is all over. I put chains on after shoveling out around the rear wheels enough to fit my body in between the truck and the snow drift. I said to myself, "self, with the chains on there will be no problem".

Back into the truck I crawled and fired it up and into reverse. Nothing at all in the sense that the truck was moving, just chewing down through the ice and snow a bit further. Ok, I guess that I really do not mind shoveling out the front end from the drift and getting the plow all free from that hard packed drift! (Well, I minded, but being as I was by myself I did not have too much choice.)

Now my intention was to just plow in as far as the top of the hill before going down next to the lake. Those drifts I knew would be more that a plow could handle. Let's just say that I simply got out of that drift and called it quits with that idea!

Ok there you clever hermit, just unload the ski-mobile and sled into camp. After all, I had packed the tote sled in the truck so I could haul all my gear in for the extended stay while shoveling.

Being as I am a sort of clever guy at times, I decided that rather than load the tote sled with all of my gear I would break the trail in first, and then come back to get my gear.

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I fired up the trusty ski-mobile and off I went! Right up over the drift that had stopped the big old 4x4, plow and all! I got to the top of the hill where I originally wished to depart from and the drifts down over the hill looked a bit large. Probably nothing much over 6 or 8 feet though.

The problem was not getting up over the first one, but the fact that they were so close together that when I would go down over the other side, I would get stuck in between the darn things! (If I had not been turning the air blue with cuss words, I would have taken a few pictures of that lovely situation.)

I managed to get myself out with a newly purchased set of handy dandy chain come-a-longs, patted myself on the back and off I went again. Until I got to the next drift that was at an angle. Out with the come-a-long again. Only this time they refuse to go out so that I can pull myself out of the drift. (More turning the air blue!)

I did have a nice heavy duty ratchet strap, and a good long one. The only problem is that you can only move something about a foot at a time with those. But hey, a foot is better that not moving at all! After 2 or 3 times I was out of that drift as well.

2 more drifts, 2 more times getting stuck and I was actually at Rip lake. One look ahead and my past experience of what I knew would be up on the corner were I to continue, and this old guy pointed the sled back to the truck. I managed to get back after only getting jammed into one more drift and put the sled back on the truck. Tomorrow would be another day and by now it was too late to get the fire going and get the camp warm enough to sleep anyway.

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Day 2: I just grabbed my food and threw it in the truck and off I went again. I would go in the back way, where the snow did not drift into those big ole sled eating piles of hard packed snow. (With lots of fluffy stuff in between to sink into.)

I head up the Telos road and stop about a mile or so up to take a photo of the tremendous snow banks that line both sides of the road. After all, it was a bright sunny day with a sky so blue I just could not resist. I got a photo or two and off I went. Perhaps a better thing to say is off I tried to go. It felt like I was spinning on the hard packed ice/snow on the road, except the speedometer was not moving. I looked in the mirror and noticed a nice bright red trail behind my truck.

All of that red stuff was what goes in the transmission. Without the magic fluid, the truck will not move! There I was, going nowhere in a hurry.

Now on Friday's there are not many workers out and about. A few ice fishermen were going by, and many of them stopped to see if they could help. I needed 12 quarts of the magic red fluid (And it has to be a special type for each different make of vehicle you understand) and a hose clamp for where the hose had blown off a steel line.

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No one was carrying any of that stuff and besides, they needed to get fishing! (And I do not hold that against any one of them!) I kept trying my phone, trying to get in touch with the Mrs. She would answer every time, but she could not hear me. She knew I was there and was speaking to me, but not hearing a word I was saying. Or at least not enough to make sense of anything.

I would try again, knowing how finicky cell systems can be when you are stretching their limits with a booster and every trick you know. Finally, a call that we could hear each other and I ordered the parts that I needed to make the roadside repairs.

I climbed out on the sled and sat there enjoying the sun and waited for the Mrs. to come rescue me! (Usually I am waiting for Jed to come rescue me, but he was not available at that moment!)

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Maureen arrived with the needed parts and I did my patch job and added the fluid and figured that I would finally make it into camp. She said she would follow me up to where I was going to park, just in case, Ha! I am all set, but you can still follow me up if you like, it is a pretty day out.

After about 5 or 6 hundred feet I hear a horn blowing and look in the mirror to see her flashing her lights. Behind me is another trail of precious red fluid! (So much for a repair that I had done, even though in the old days I used to do that same type of repair all the time!) Newer and better they say!

I told Maureen that I would coast back down the hill to park in the turn out on the Golden Road. Just stay out of my way and let folks know I was coming down backwards, without much for brakes. (Or power steering) I made it most of the way down, but I had to slow down a bit for one vehicle and lost my momentum. Maureen had to pull me across the bridge to the parking area. (And posted a picture of that for everyone to see!)

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But the dear sweet lady never once brought up the fact that I told her I was fine and she did not have to follow me up to where I was going to park! (It must have been the dejected look on my face that made her feel pity for me I reckon.)

Ordered the parts and a wrecker on the way to town, and had Jed come up to grab the plow, as my truck would not fit on the flat bed with the plow and sled on.

We made it down the Golden Road without any issues and my truck was dropped off right over the lift in my garage! Saturday I went to town to get the parts that I had ordered and proceeded to install the new line and fill-er-up with transmission fluid, again! Once again I was ready to try my luck at getting to camp to shovel off all of the white stuff!

Another storm decided to blow in so once again I was delayed. I had to plow everything around here again, for the 16th time this winter. Tuesday I made a quick trip to Bangor to take back the defective chain come-a-long and to purchase an electric winch to pull myself out of the snowdrifts. Of course I had to build a special mount for the front of the sled to attach the darn thing, but I knew that in the future when (not if) I got stuck, I would be able to get out with much less work! I spent a few hours concocting a mount that would work and once again I felt I was ready to go! I had an appointment on Wednesday, so it was Thursday before once again I was headed to camp!

Up the Golden Road I went, then up the Telos road to come in the back way. (I couldn't see pushing my luck on those big drifts, and besides, getting the tote sled over everything was more than I figured I needed to attempt.) I also do not wish to pack down the road any more than necessary, as soon it will be time to plow, and sled tracks make it just that much harder to accomplish.

I unloaded everything from the truck and onto and into my ski-mobile and tote sled and off I went. Absolutely no issues at all, right into camp without even the slightest hiccup! I started the generator to produce a few kilowatts of power, put the heater on the excavator so I could get it started and move enough snow to get my ladders out. I went in the camp to start the fire so I would not freeze overnight.

After making sure everything was going just fine, I went back to the truck to make a phone call to Maureen to let her know that I was in safe and sound. I got part way out and remembered that I needed the keys that I had left in the excavator so back to camp I headed. It was getting cold and the wind on the pond was not pleasant like it is in July. I decided to go across the brook where the bridge is missing to avoid the wind. No problem at all, everything was frozen up solid at the brook.

The return trip was to be made the same way as I worked so well the first time. (I know you know where this is headed.) I pulled up slowly to make my approach and get lined up to cross the brook. The alders growing along the edge of the brook were in the way, so I had to get pretty close to line up to my satisfaction. The only issue turned out to be that all the snow around the alders let go and down the sled went. Not all the way to the bottom, only a couple of feet.

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I figure it was time to put on the snow shoes and pack thing down a bit to make it a bit easier. I stepped off the sled and took a step towards the back and down I went! With one leg. The other foot was still sitting firmly upon the top of the snow. Have you ever been walking around in the attic and stepped down through the ceiling? No, probably not, but I have! The feeling was about the same. One foot on a firm spot and the other just dangling in open air, or snow with no bottom in this case. There was so much snow that my leg never hit the ground. Have you ever tried to get a leg up with just air or fluffy snow to push against? I can tell you first hand it is not all that easy!

I managed to grab the side of the sled and pull myself out and up. I got the snow shoes on (Or at least part way on as I had grabbed the small pair and they did not wish to go around my over-sized winter boots.) and dug out my new electric winch. I put it in my mount and dragged the cable out to a tree that was in the general direction that I wished the machine to take. I went back and started the sled, pushed the button and lookie there, out the sled came! Slowly, but compared to the previous week I thought it was a pretty grand improvement!

Not another problem getting out to the truck at all. I made my couple of phone calls and back to camp I headed. When I came to the intersection where I would either go back through the big hole I had punched in the snow or face a little cool breeze on the pond, I, well you know, I did what any red blooded American male would do, (After thinking about all of the problems I had encountered in the past week!) I took the cool breeze!

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By the time I got back into camp it was getting fairly warm inside, so I went out to plow a bit more snow out of my way and then went in to partake my supper. I grabbed a book after supper and enjoyed a pleasant evening reading and thinking about all the roofs that I would clean off tomorrow.

The next morning it was cold, something below zero, double digits below zero. I took my time getting breakfast to wait for it to warm up a bit before heading out the door. No sense in freezing before I got started!

I got my ladder up against the roof of cabin 5 and up I went. I shoveled for 10 minutes to get enough snow out of the way for me to actually put my feet on the roof! I’ll tell you what, there is a lot of snow up here. When there is that much weight on a roof you have to sort of shovel it even so you do not put too much weight on one side. I would clear off a path several feet wide and over the top and down over the other side. It seems to take longer, but not as long as building a new camp!

I plugged away all day and got a bit over half of it cleared off. There were spots that it was over 5 feet deep. I do not know how much it all weighed, but it is heavy snow and with the rain that we had earlier in the year made it that much heavier.

Jed was planning on coming up to help on Saturday, so I was pleased that I got as much done on that camp as I did. I figured that it would put me in good shape for getting them all cleaned off in short order.

He arrived early and we went out and finished cabin 5 in a bit over an hour. It sure makes a difference when there are two shovels moving snow! I figure that we would get the office building, cabin 1 and one other out building shoveled off Saturday. (We did just that after a long day on the end of a shovel!)

We tried the rope trick on cabin 1, (Something Jed had seen on a YouTube video) but the snow conditions were not right for it to work. ( There were layers of ice in the snow which the rope did not wish to saw through.) But hey, we tried, and we probably will try it again under different conditions. Cabin 1 has a metal roof as well as the office. Now that stuff is tricky to stand on if you get it cleaned down too close. As we shoveled the roofs the sun would melt and make the metal as slippery as wet ice! The temperature had climbed over 34 degrees since I had checked in the morning. It was a bright and sunny day and the sun really has some heat in it now.

The piles of snow under the eves of the buildings would let us just step off in many places! It is amazing just how much weight these old buildings will hold up. A few rough calculations left me realizing that I have shoveled between 200 and 300 hundred TONS of snow off the roofs. Because of the different depths of snow on the roofs I could not nail it down to an exact weight here folks. No wonder my body was protesting each and every night!

Three of the cabins seldom require my expert snow shoveling abilities. Cabin 2, 3 and 4 hardly ever need it done. They are sitting in the right spots and pointed in the right direction. The wind off the pond keeps them mostly clear of snow. I told Jed that we needed to swing cabin 5 around so that it sat facing the pond. He allowed that it would be possible, but a big undertaking!

I spent an entire day clearing the snow off the wood shed roof. That roof is big and flat, which means a lot of throwing snow as far as you can to get it off the roof. By the time I was done I had a big pile in the front and both sides. The rear is now piled up higher that the roof itself! (But it will still be standing come summer!)

For the second time in the past 19 winters I shoveled off the shelters over the picnic tables. The snow is deep enough that I could stand on the ground and get all except for the very peak! Well, that did not work so well on the shelter over the table in site 9. The wind had not packed the snow and when I stepped of my ski-mobile down I went! (I have had that happen to me more this year than I care to remember!) I did use the ladder on that one, which is not against the rules, but it does mean wrestling the ladder on and off the sled.

All in all, as I think about the work I did, I realize that what does not kill you makes you stronger! (Even if it does make for a few sore muscles.)

Next on the list of things to do it to start opening the road! April is coming and in order for the road to dry out by the middle of May I need to get it all opened up so that the frost can melt and have the road dry up. It turns into quite the quagmire for a few weeks as I have experienced first hand a couple of times. Soon enough I will be sitting out on the pond casting a Muddler Minnow at the fish that lurk below!