Proceeds will benefit the park and Friends of Baxter State Park programs.
Friends of Baxter State Park is holding a sign auction through Dec. 6.
The nonprofit organization that helps support and preserve the wilderness of the 209,644-acre park, is auctioning off retired Baxter State Park trail signs as a fundraiser.
The auction includes 15 signs from favorite locations like Mount OJI, the Saddle Trail, Katahdin Lake, the Freezeout Trail, the Appalachian Trail, Kidney Pond and Mount Coe.
A special addition to the auction is the dinner bell from Kidney Pond Camps, a historic Maine sporting camp that is now one of Baxter State Park’s most popular campgrounds.
“These signs are one-of-a-kind keepsakes for anyone who enjoys hiking and camping in Baxter State Park” said Aaron Megquier, the executive director of the Friends group, in a news release. Many of the signs are well-worn, showing their exposure to harsh alpine conditions — or in some cases, the park’s resident wildlife.
The organization will donate half of the auction proceeds directly to Baxter State Park. The remaining proceeds will support Friends programs such as the Baxter Youth Conservation Corps, a new program that hires teens from the Katahdin region for summer trail work in the park.
Bidding closes at midnight Wednesday, Dec. 6. The auction is entirely online and may be accessed at 32auctions.com/fbsp.
“Perhaps I most fully realized that this was primeval, untamed, and forever untamable Nature, or whatever else men call it, while coming down this part of the mountain.” — Henry David Thoreau.
Thoreau’s impression of the Maine North Woods, penned during one of his three trips to the region in the 1840s and 1850s, more than likely would have been different had he visited in winter today.
Though the woods still appear primeval in some spots, the hand of man is evident since Thoreau’s days. This winter, the first visitors will explore Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument by snowshoe, snowmobile, and skis. They’ll find an inviting landscape of thousands of acres of backcountry.
Lucas St. Clair, whose family donated 87,500 acres through its Elliotsville Plantation, Inc., nonprofit to the federal government in late August to create the monument, recalls: “Some of the more memorable experiences for me over the years have been going in the winter to really remote sections of the monument on skis. You just see so much stuff that you typically don’t see. Moose at really short range. You can see all the tracks so much more clearly.
“It’s really cool to be skiing along and see all these lynx tracks and drops of blood in the snow where a lynx had eaten a rabbit. You don’t see that stuff in any other season,” he adds.
Elliotsville Plantation, has cut roughly 20 kilometers of crosscountry ski trails near the northern tip of the monument, and 32 miles of snowmobile trails over the years. Those trails, with their connections to Baxter State Park and other snowmobile routes, offer nearly 100 miles of trail to explore.
Winter visitors can choose from a number of other lodging options:
Mount Chase Lodge is just 16 miles from the monument, on Shin Pond, operated by the same family for past 40 years. They have private cabins, main lodge rooms, with fare such as pan-seared salmon with blueberry chutney and grilled marinated Portobello mushrooms.
The New England Outdoor Center cabins can accommodate from six to 14 guests, and are just 8 miles from Millinocket. St. Clair says, “They have snowmobile rentals, ski rentals, and there’s skiing trails right there at the lodge, and you can easily access the monument for snowmobiling from the lodge.”
A hiker from South Jersey had to be rescued from one of Maine’s highest mountains on Saturday afternoon.
The unidentified 29-year-old woman from Moorestown was medevaced off Pamola Peak in Baxter State Park when she fell ill while hiking with five other people, park officials said in a news release.
It took a park ranger 80 minutes to reach the group after a 911 call was placed at 11:57 a.m. The Maine Army National Guard Air Evac unit removed the woman at 4:20 p.m. and flew her to Millinocket Regional Hospital after it was determined she’d require further treatment.
Officials noted that had there been lower cloud cover or rainy weather, an evacuation by helicopter would not have been possible. Instead, transporting a patient from the 4,919 foot mountain to the nearest road would have required 30-40 people and would have taken 24-36 hours to complete, according to park officials.
Pamola Peak is about a mile away from Baxter Peak on Mount Katahdin, the highest mountain in Maine at 5,267 feet.
The more than 200,000 acre park is in the wilderness of north-central Maine and is roughly the same size as Middlesex County, New Jersey.
When Pennsylvania Police Captain Michael Yanchak of the Peters Township police department retires Jan. 6, the 33-year department veteran will be anything but idle.
He plans on hiking the Appalachian Trail, the 2,200-mile marked trail that stretches north from Mount Katahdin in northern Maine south to Springer Mountain in Georgia.
“Being able to walk through a piece of history intrigues me,” said Yanchak, 64.
Besides Maine and Georgia, the trail goes through parts of New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia, Pennsylvania and North Carolina. It is also in close proximity to major battlefield sites such as Antietam and Gettysburg and Washington, D.C.
“The United States is very large and I have gotten to see it in bits and pieces,” said Yanchak, an avid hiker. “But, I feel like I’ve missed a lot.”
Yanchak has been busy prepping for the excursion at his Canonsburg home. For months, he has been dehydrating food, pouring over maps, reading and talking with people who have hiked the trail for tips. He said his wife Melody, their daughters, Meredith, 33, a theater teacher in Texas and Melissa, 35, a keyboardist in Arkansas, and their son Michael, 36, a one-man vocal band who lives in Pittsburgh, have been extremely supportive. In fact, Meredith plans on hiking with him in June, when she is on summer vacation.
“My kids have all back packed since they have been 4 or 5,” he said. “They have all been hounding me for my daily itinerary.”
Yanchak said he will begin his hike somewhere in southern New England in May and walk 15 to 20 miles a day. To prepare for his journey, Yanchak said he will begin taking progressively longer hikes with a 35-pound backpack to make sure he is in shape.
“Bears won’t bother me,” he said.
Besides fulfilling his goal, Yanchak said he views the upcoming trip, which should last six to 10 months, as cathartic. He said he doesn’t know whether he will miss police work, despite being a police officer half his life. He also doesn’t know whether he will go back to work, or remain retired.
“When I come off the trail, everything should be clearer,” he said.
Yanchak started out his law enforcement career as a state corrections officer in Montgomery County. After three years, he left that position and enlisted the military and became a military police officer. Following a three-year stint in the service, he returned to work as a corrections officer, but when an opening on the Peters Township police was posted, he applied and got the job. It also gave him an opportunity to return home to Western Pennsylvania.
“I believe we all have to give something back to society,” Yanchak said. “Me being a police officer is my way of giving back.”
Yanchak said he has been on a number of interesting calls over the years as a police officer, including one on a hot Memorial Day weekend several years ago. He was called to administer CPR on a man who was having a heart attack. Yanchak said he saved the man’s life. But a month later, the man shows up at the police department.
“He wanted to complain to the chief I broke his ribs,” said Yanchak, who was the only person in the station at the time. He said man did not recognize him. “I took his name and said I would leave a message for the chief and I did.”