Saturday, July 12, 2008

Screw Auger Falls

The REAL one, that is

There are at least 2 Screw Auger Falls in Maine.

When Sara was an infant we tried hiking in to the Kathadin Iron Works version, off the Appalachian Trail to Gulf Hagas.

We took turns carrying her but after half a mile she seemed to weigh a ton and it was just too much walking without the baby backpack - which had been left home on this spur of the moment adventure.

Not well thought out adventures are still a part of our family history, it seems.

25 years later and I've finally made it in, using the official trail. There's a short cut to the falls at Gulf Hagas by driving much closer, along the back roads further in. Years ago the paper company clear cut a huge section of the land that the shortcut went through and so they "closed" it.

For our safety.

Well, they put rocks across the opening and took down the signs. Anyone with a memory still knew where it was.

The trail had been worn deep by a hundred thousand feet and would take an age to disappear completely back to the wild.
It's a much easier walk, with no river crossings and so was a much safer trek for children or the elderly. We took mom that route a few years ago for an autumn leaf peeping expedition and she was quite thrilled to make it in, at her age and with limited vision.

The Appalachian Mountain Club purchased much of surrounding land and has put up restrictions for vehicle use, but Tom tells me you can get as far as the bridge to park near the shortcut, which is being maintained again. Big locked gates shut out all but the wealthy who can afford to pay membership dues & fees to much of the fishing in the area, but the trail is open once again.

They own it, that's their right.

But don't tout conservation as noble cause, if what you really mean is "let's keep the land pristine so rich people from out of state can continue to enjoy exclusive Maine
Vactionland playgrounds." (i.e. Moosehead lake/Plum Creek controversy)

But I digress!

I made it to the falls. Tom even convinced me to climb down into the gorge and wade cross the freaking falls so we could eat our lunch in
the most beautiful spot on earth.

I admit I never really relaxed completely until we were both safely back on top. But it was worth the effort, if only for the photo shoot. And the reminder not to be such a chicken, as it was not really as difficult as my fear imagined it would be.

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