For many Maine outdoors enthusiasts, the Stud Mill Road is the gravel superhighway of choice … if there is such a thing as a gravel superhighway.
Hop on in Costigan, or Great Pond, or way Down East in No. 21 Township, and you can use the Stud Mill Road to access all kinds of fine hunting and fishing spots (all of which, by the way, are top secret, according to those in the know).
On Tuesday, I grabbed a buddy and headed for the Stud Mill (adding the word “Road” to the label simply shows that you’re a Stud Mill neophyte) and decided to look for a few partridge.
As you might expect on the first full week of upland bird season, the Stud Mill was full of like-minded folks. Some drove vehicles bearing license plates from Connecticut to Texas.
Truck after truck zipped past us. The ones going very fast, we quickly ascertained, were owned by men who were actually working in the woods … the ones traveling more slowly were full of orange-clad hunters who shared our agenda.
I’d never road hunted before. My infrequent though enjoyable forays afield in search of woodcock and grouse have always been aided by folks (and dogs) that know far more about bird hunting than I.
My friend was also new to the road-hunting phenomenon that many Mainers grew up embracing.
And while each of us would have loved to enjoy a ruffed grouse for dinner, that wasn’t really the point of the trip.
We were there to explore a bit. Drive a bit.
And (most importantly) talk a lot.
Recently, there’s been far too little of that between us. Our jobs have changed over the years, and while once we’d spend hours together golfing or fishing or just telling stories, our outings have become less and less frequent.
That, we’ve both independently decided, isn’t the way it should be. And it isn’t the way it will remain.
Thus, on a beautiful autumn day, we scrapped all other plans and did what we used to do much more often: We found a gravel road and headed into the woods.
Side roads abound on the Stud Mill and each, it seemed to us, held the promise of a bird … or two.
Sometimes we hopped out and walked for a bit, and other times we drove slowly, catching up and looking for an elusive bird … or two.
Our loop took us through some likely looking spots (the trucks that were parked on many of those roads indicated that our brethren thought the same thing) and wound past trout-filled streams (or so we assumed) and salmonnfilled lakes (ditto).
The foliage was sometimes spectacular, and sometimes just short of peaking.
Eighty-five miles later, just around sunset, we completed our circuit back in Bangor.
We were a bit road-weary. We were a bit frustrated that bird … or two … never did join the party.
But we vowed to do it all again, sometime soon.
Just like we should have been doing all along.
Just another fantastic day spent in the Maine woods, we figured.
Two Baxter trails reopen
It’s 60 degrees and sunny in Bangor, and not many of us are spending much time worrying about snow and ice.
Not many … but a few certainly are.
Up on Maine’s highest mountain, you don’t have to wait until winter to get some wintry conditions, and that’s been the case recently.
But there’s some good news coming out of the Katahdin region.
On Wednesday, Baxter State Park officials announced that two trails that lead to the top of Mount Katahdin have been reopened to the public.
“Recent warmer weather has melted snow and ice and allowed park officials to open the Abol and Hunt trails to provide access to Baxter Peak,” according to a press release.
That doesn’t mean that hikers will have unfettered access to the mountain, however.
“Trailheads on the north side of Katahdin, including Roaring Brook and Chimney Pond, will likely remain closed due to snow and ice until Oct. 10,” according to the release.
The fall foliage is undoubtedly stunning, and while conditions can change rapidly, park officials want hikers to be able to enjoy Katahdin during this beautiful time of the year. They say trails below the tree line, and those which lead to lower peaks will continue to be open to hiking.
If you’re considering a trip to Baxter State Park, please consider calling park headquarters at 723-5140 for information before making the trip.
Speaking of Katahdin …
I’ll be heading north this morning for what has turned into an immensely enjoyable annual ritual.
I’ll join guide Jay Robinson and his dogs for a day of bird hunting in some of his top-secret coverts up in the region he likes to call “Katahdin Country.”
There’s nothing like hunting behind a skilled bird dog, and on Saturday I’ll let you know how things turned out.
One thing is likely, however: The dogs will do their jobs.
Whether Jay and I can make their work worthwhile is another question.