July 2015 – Bethel Maine

Since we had to pick up the truck from the shop on Wednesday morning, we got a late start on our trip to western Maine.  The trip too nearly three hours as it was mostly on US 2 going west, going up and down some hills, although most of the trip was through some wide valleys and were relatively flat.  The truck performed well until near the end of the trip when the turbo started making the same racket as before, although not as loud.  We hope this is normal, since this is our first opportunity to pull the RV up some serious hills that really needed the turbo.  When we got to the Bethel Outdoor Adventure and Campgrounds near Bethel, Maine, it was obvious we were in for a different experience.  The major business is the rental of canoes, kayaks, and tubes for trips on the river, the campground is almost an afterthought. The sites are minimal, yet adequate with sufficient room between the sites so you don’t feel cramped, but no more.  They do have picnic tables and a fire ring, but the best feature is they are all pull-through which made it very easy to park the RV.  The sites are level which made the setup very easy.  The restroom/shower facilities are old and need a lot of work, especially since they are also used by all the customers either renting kayaks, etc or paying for transportation of their boats to the landings upriver.  They do clean them everyday at least, but that is about it.  There are no other facilities, such as laundry, swimming pools, etc, but then we can live without them, especially for the 5 nights we have left on our week.

Campsite

On Thursday, Kal needed time to relax away from the phone and computer and a relaxing float down the river was just perfect.  During the week, business is slow on the river, however, by Saturday there were people parked everywhere and the campsite was over half full.  They take people out every hour on the hour, so we got a trip starting at 10:00 in the morning.  We elected to take the 10 mile trip down the Androscoggin River from the Gilead Landing to the take out at the campgrounds.  For the first 6 miles of the trip, which took 2.5 hours, we were the only kayaks on the river.  Since the river moves at a good clip, between 3 and 5 miles per hour, we had to do very little except sit back and relax.  There are a couple of minor ripples along the river which we easily navigated, stopping a couple of times on the many islands in the river.  The scenery along the river was spectacular, with most of it being simply forests and very few houses until we got near Bethel.  With the mountains in the background it was a great experience!  It was well worth the money we spent.  Even though we let the river do 90% of the work, we were still tired after 4.5 hours on the river and were glad to see the takeout knowing we only had a short walk back to the RV.

GregOnRiver KalOnRiver LunchBreak

We were both a little tired the next day, so we decided to stay in the campgrounds and enjoy a relaxing day.  I got caught up on this blog and Kal did some serious knitting in the afternoon.  I really feel sorry for all our friends dealing with this summer’s weather.  We cringe every time the weather is talked about on the news with the near record heat in the south, torrential rains in Florida, and heat all along the east coast.  I would strongly recommend spending the summer in Maine, where we complain if the temperature gets above the mid 80s.  On Friday, we had sunny weather, low humidity, and temperatures that topped out at 80.  It was a great day to just enjoy the weather.

On Saturday, we were ready to get out of the campgrounds, especially with all the people coming in between 8-9 in the morning to get on the river.  As I mentioned previously, the campground is now over half full and the cars have packed their parking lot and spilled over into the campground.  I am sure glad we made our trip earlier in the week as the river was going to be crowded today.  Instead we traveled about 15 miles north to Grafton Notch State Park.  This is a 3,000 acre park situated in a U-shaped valley cut by the glaciers in between two picturesque mountains.  There are many granite escarpments on the sides of the mountains and Bear Creek has cut an impressive 40 deep gorge through the notch.  Maine highway 26 cuts through the center of the park providing good access to the hiking trails.  There are some difficult hiking trails including 12 miles of the Appalachian Trial, but these are not for us!!  Instead we picked out the easy trails they have available, however, these were all very short being only 0.1 to 0.25 miles long.  We started out at Screw Augur Falls which is a very nice set of stepfalls that is located right at the parking lot.  Access to these small falls was very easy.  From there we proceeded up to Mother Walker Falls, which is another short trail along a 40 foot deep gorge that is 980 feet long.  Unfortunately, by the first of August there was very little water in the creek and although you could hear it at times, it was completely hidden by the rocks that have split from the mountain and nearly fill the gorge.  The best part of this trail was working yourself around the large rocks on the north end where you can see the small creek coming out from under the large rocks where it ran “underground” for about 100 feet.   Finally, we drove on north to the Moose Cave trail, that is only 0.25 miles, once again along a steep gorge.  They have done a great job with the trail with easy steps, boardwalks, and rails to climb down the gorge to the entrance to Moose Cave.  This cave is nothing more than a couple of very large rocks that span the gorge with the creek flowing through about 20 feet down a sheer face of granite inside the “cave”  You do have to be careful not to fall into the cave like the moose that fell in leading to the name of the cave.  These hikes were all very short, so unless we wanted to do some of the challenging trails (which we didn’t), there was not much more to do.  So we headed back to the Screw Augur Falls and had a very pleasant lunch at a picnic table alongside the mountain stream where Kal nearly fell asleep watching the water.  We returned to the RV where I was able to keep caught up with this blog.

GregLookingForWater KalWithGlacialRocks ScrewAugurFalls1

Sunday was spent in the campgrounds working on updating my pins of campgrounds on GoogleEarth and enjoying a quiet beautiful last day in Maine.  We both agree that we would return to Maine in the future as it is a great place to spend the summer.  With the coastline to the south and hills in the central region that is a lot to see and do and we have greatly enjoyed it all.  We still have the northern part of Maine and Canada to the north to explore, so we may be back in this area again next summer.

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