I look over and Bruce is carefully arranging the rocks so the opening of the firepit points exactly at Katahdin. He's moving the beach ball-size stones around like a Mayan architect designing a pyramid to catch the light just so. This is the sort of care Ranger White puts into preparations for the Katahdin 100 celebration, which takes over Katahdin Stream Campground every Labor Day. It's also why the Penobscots, who will begin arriving here this afternoon, hold him in such high regard.
Sounds like the Baxter equivalent of an urban legend, but I've heard it from a number of sources – there's a toll bear on the Slaughter Pond Trail. The furry fellow plays it like this: when a fisherman comes up the trail on his way back from a bit of angling at Slaughter Pond, a sixty-six-acre basin just outside the park's western boundary, Ursa Major will step into the trail. He'll sit there on his haunches, blocking the way past, until he's paid a trout. Once fed, he'll carry his scaly
I was wearing my uniform on my way home from work recently when a gentleman approached me at a gas station. “Hey, I've got a story for you,” he said, and then he paused, reading the badge on my shirt: “Ranger - Baxter State Park.” He looked at me and said, “Oh, I thought you were a warden.” And then, as if he didn't care whether I was a warden or not, he embarked on a long yarn about his brother's fishing exploits in a Winterport river.
Jodi and I get into her truck and follow him. We don't like the sound of it – Stream Camp is ranger housing. And when we arrive
The last time Dean, Charity, Bruce, and I waited for an ambulance to come, the story didn't have a happy ending. We tried in vain for close to an hour on that nightmarish August evening to get a twenty-four-year-old kid's heart to start again after he'd taken a fairly direct lightning strike. Rain thrashed the woods and the sky boomed like artillery fire as we hooked him up to an AED, we breathed for him, we heaved on his chest. His mother was right there helping, his brother nearby, bent over
When we return each spring like so many migrant birds, we find a lot of ghosts in the campground. The spirits of the previous years, the remnants of winter that will disappear soon - Chimney Pond still has snow measurable in feet; at Daicey Pond we have all that's left behind by our winter campers. Usually this is ground-in dirt on the floors of our cold-weather cabins, buckets filled with ash, maybe a broken ski pole or duct tape on the wall, proof that, though it's dead quiet now, people were
With the gates finally open, new campers are returning. And I'm just counting the hours until I hear someone tell me how pleased they are that "nothing has changed" at Baxter Park. (Usually this statement comes from a camper back after a few years away from the place.) And while I'm gratified people feel that way - it means we're doing our job - I always find it amusing. The only constant in my six seasons as a Baxter Park ranger has been change. Every year is different, sometimes dramatically.
Perhaps no one suffers cabin fever like a seasonal park ranger. By this time of year, I begin to go a little nuts, hankering to resume my post at Daicey Pond, Baxter State Park. I literally begin to pace indoors, like a dog. I stare longingly out the window. I repeatedly climb the ridge behind my house. I imagine what's happening in my corner of the park, as spring rubs the sleepy sands from its eyes and tries to throw off the blanket of winter.
I enjoy the two seasons of life, split almost