"Death Hikes" at the Gulf Hagas & Elsewhere

We love reading the entries our guests have left behind, not only to assure that their experiences here fulfilled and surpassed their expectations, but also because many of them find things to do in the north woods that we've somehow managed to miss, despite years and years exploring the place.

You'll find in our guestbook the highlights of previous guests' vacations: a young mother experiencing the wonder of Borestone Mountain through her toddler's eyes; a 74-year-ld grandmother managing the hike to Upper Little Wilson Falls; a moose safari; a white water adventure; and many, many more.

We confess we're contended to loll around right here at the cabin, taking in the sound of the waterfalls, or take a dip in the swimming hole. Usually. But this time, thanks to a visit by a friend whose idea of fun is a three-day "Death Hike" up as many 4,000-foot peaks as he can climb in a weekend, it was necessary to find an outing or two that would content his wondering feet.

We found ourselves twice on the Appalachian Trail - one segment right nearby, running from Upper Little Wilson Falls to the crossing of Big Wilson Stream, then completing the loop back to the old campground at lower Little Wilson Falls. It was a great, six-hour trek, with views of Little Wilson gorge from Wilson Cliffs and varied terrain from a moose bog to a forest caked with thick layers of moss.

The day prior, we hiked the rim trail of the Gulf Hagas - Maine's answer to the Grand Canyon. It's something I've meant to do for years, but thought it was a little too far of a drive to make it worth it. Wrong! This is a must see, must do experience. Three magnificent waterfalls on one hike, sheer cliffs. Amazing scenery! Billings Falls and Screw Auger Falls were our favorites. We started on the northwest (upstream) end of the canyon and made it to the southeast end in about four hours, finishing the loop (eight miles) by dusk. It's a whole day commitment. The drive from Greenville is about 30 minutes on gravel roads, but they're in good repair.

Our other adventure was a climb up Squaw Mountain (aka Moose Mountain), earlier in the week. We didn't use the marked trails, deciding instead to walk up the ski trails on the other side of the mountain, under the chair lift. What looked from the bottom of the mountain to be a dusting of snow on the top was actually about six inches of October snow. It was a little foolhardy of us to make the climb without much in the way of emergency supplies (don't do this at home, boys & girls), but we made it up & down without major incident (except for a few tailbone bruises). That old ski hill has to have the most outstanding views in New England - Moosehead Lake from end-to-end.

Eric & Tricia Schult
Bettendorf, IA
October 22, 2009

Playing Games (in the Closet)

Man, this weekend went by fast. It started out as a gift for my uncle, as a 50th birthday present. I'm pretty sure, we all agree, this place is amazing! The foliage is beautiful, and so vivid. It puts the leaves in Massachusetts to shame. The rocks at the river were cool, too. We were mesmerized by the geometrical patterns. Here's what we did:

Friday: Got here, and were all very excited. Played Apples to Apples (in the closet). We recommend it to a large group. It's great!

Saturday: Hiked to Upper Wilson Falls. Also great, but a bit scary. We were so high at some points! Later, we made use of the outdoor firepit and got a good look at the AMAZING night sky.

Sunday: Drove to Moosehead Lake, but it was windy and cold. Ate at the Stress-Free pub (very good). We waited for moose at the D.O.T. (Saw none.)

Monday: Had to leave. :(

Thanks for having us! This place is great! We plan to come back next year.

Zach, Ryan, Tyler, Puggie, Jim,
Brian, Shelley & Michael
Pembroke & Rockland, MA
October 12, 2009

(Owners' note: How did you all fit in the closet? Was it hard to read the game directions in there?) ;^)

Bats in the Wood Stove, Oh My!

Where did the week go?! We had an amazing week at the house at Big Wilson Camp! It was so peaceful to go to bed each night to a waterfall. The bathroom, kitchen and bedrooms were kept up so lovely and decorated with amazing taste. It was a pleasure to be here.

We did have a few surprises with Buttercup & Inspector Gadget - the bats in the woodstove - our pets for the week. Just don't open the woodstove door. You will have pleasant pets for your time here.

Ziv Family
Londonderry, NH & Israel

(Owners note: Thanks for being good sports about the bats! We had them humanely removed and installed screening on the chimney to keep them from returning. The woodstove is functional again.)

North Woods Pointers

Thank you for the lovely respite from our busy lives. We vacationed here to celebrate our middle son, Colin's, high school graduation. My husband, myself, oldest son, Ryan, Colin, and daughter, Sarah, enjoyed all that we could squeeze into seven days. A few of our outings:

Plain and simple, take the Moose Safari with Ashley Simpson through Northwood Outfitters, right in Greenville. We chose the evening trip (no 6 am for us!) and were rewarded for that decision. A beautiful clear day gave way to sparkling evening. Ashley is a fabulous guide. We entered the water to discover two glorious loons. Quickly, we came upon a bull moose, watching us with caution, and a cow nervously backing up into the woods. Next, a deer scampered into the water in front of our canoes and swam across the pond. We floated and canoed for an hour or so, then left in the early twilight to see an enormous beaver dam.

Next we golfed Mount Kineo. A scrub course with tough greens, but glorious views. The third hole plays up to the cliff-side and the eighth plays into a private group of homes that reflect a bygone era. Just lovely.

The guys hiked Borestone Mountain - beautiful, but extremely difficult - right from the start. Sarah and I stayed back and floated in the swimming hole.

We took a whitewater rafting trip with Moxie Tours. Beware the 16-Mile road from hell! The rafting was fabulous, but cold. Come prepared! The full day offers a lunch and a few hours of lazy floating. If it isn't warm, just do the exciting upper falls and skip the shivering.

We hiked little falls to the top. Fabulous! And enjoyed the rope swing.

There is so much to do, I wish we had another week to relax in.

Try the Black Frog. Great fun. Auntie M's has terrific breakfast. The Rod 'n Reel was great for seafood and the Lakeside in Monson was good fun and great food.

People in Maine are so friendly. Martin found the fishing challenging, but rewarding, with brook trout.

Ryan said the seafood pizza at Graves was awesome. Martin enjoyed the Ultimate Burger at Auntie M's. Ryan and Sarah though the fishing on the left of the camp was the domain of the weenie fish, but a confidence builder. Colin enjoyed the hiking and running up ahead of everyone.

The Mooney Family
Albany, NY
August 8, 2009

Senior Photos in the Woods

This is a very special vacation for us as our only son will start his senior year of high school in September. We have been visiting the Moosehead Lake area for years, and brought three 17-year-old boys out to the wilderness to take their senior photos. Yes, we are crazy! Instead of having to travel around for photos, we were able to get most of them down by the stream, and they look great!

This week has been lots of fun visiting Mount Kineo, Bar Harbor, Borestone Mountain and the falls, and of course a couple of stops at "Reny's" - Love it!! We've met up with the usual suspects: a bull moose, baby moose, eight deer, two foxes, mink, turkey and, just today, someone's bull got loose and was alongside the road, too!

I think the boys realized there's more to summer vacation than computer games and texting ...

Next year we might be back as "empty nesters". Thank you!!

Dale, Dori & Dalton Robie
Savona, NY
July 18, 2009

Close Encounters of the Moose Kind

My wife and I had a wonderful stay at Big Wilson Camp. As many previous guests have noted, the tranquil beauty of Borestone Mountain made for a memorable hike. We were just contemplating how we could somehow record the sound of the falls to lull us to sleep back home in NJ. The cabin is so comfortable, too. It's been wet out, mostly, but we enjoyed our nights by the woodstove, with the cool evening breeze gliding gently through the screens.

I wanted to share a moose story with future guests. We kept wondering if/when we would see a moose. We made a fishing excursion to Salmon Pond (near Greenville) and while setting up my rig, I heard a loud couple of splashes across the pond. Lo and behold, a large bull accompanied by a female had run into the pond. I ran to the truck to get Adria and we got some great photos & video of these two moose, frolicking less than 50 years away. After awhile, I resumed fishing and Adria went back down the trail to the truck. I thought nothing of the increasingly close proximity of the female moose's "mooing" calls until I looked up and saw her standing about 20 feet away, looking right at me! I don't know much about moose, but the sight of such a large animal, who was completely undeterred by my presence, gave me the idea that my best interests lay about 20 feet off the ground, so I scampered up the nearest pine tree until she went on her way a few minutes later. Quite an exhilarating experience! I only wish I had the camera with me. My wife had taken it with her down the trail. Would've made for some amusing footage!

Anyway, the whole trip has been a thrill. We are hooked on Maine and hope to return again soon. Enjoy!

The Keppel's
Sicklerville, NJ
July 7, 2009