I awoke around 2 AM to torrential rain pouring down, each drop making that soothing sound on the hardshell tent’s molded roof. By the time we got up the next morning the campsite was absolutely soaked and the air had a chill that was unexpected for mid-August in New England. Throwing on a jacket and my trusty trail runner footwear I climbed down the ladder from the Jeep’s roof and faced the day. Others in the camp were also waking up, noises and voices growing in that familiar way that campsites come to life every morning.
The Allagash Mountain fire tower stood proudly atop the mountain, reminding me of dozens of peaks with the same adornments that were strewn throughout the Appalachian Trail. A strong breeze was moving clouds above us and the morning sun had burned off most of the fog while we were climbing. As the group wandered around, took photos, and enjoyed the view, Brendan and I climbed the narrow ladder up the fire tower itself to see what was inside. Squeezing through a narrow door hinged to the floor of the structure we found old topographical maps, a tiny stove, and what appeared to be an old telegraph/morse code key (I may be wildly wrong, but it truly appeared to be such a device!). I snapped some photos as Brendan consulted the topo map and pointed out at Canada to our west and Katahdin to our south, then we carefully descended the ladder back down to the rocky surface of the summit.
Wedging my camera into a crevice of granite I was able to snap a group photo before we headed back down the mountain. The initial descent was even more difficult than climbing up, with wet rocks and fallen leaves making for less than ideal conditions and sketchy steps forward. The group took just over an hour to get down, having paused briefly for a few slips and falls, and found Shaun drinking a cider in his camp chair next to their Jeep.
Our drive from the makeshift parking lot to our anticipated campsite at Wadleigh Beach was only supposed to be 11 miles. Rolling out through the fire trail we turned back onto the wider and more maintained roads, increasing our speed and taking in the scenery and warm afternoon air. Dani and I were leading the way when out of nowhere a young moose darted across the road a few hundred feet in front of us. Before I could reach for the Ham radio to call it in to the rest of the group behind us, the huge animal had disappeared into the woods on the other side of the road. I came to a full stop, anticipating another one or two to follow across the road, but unfortunately none appeared.
A half hour or so later we arrived at the campsite that Brendan and I had chosen months prior, only to find it happily occupied by a few vehicles with a handful of people down by the lake. We pulled the vehicles off the side of the road, constantly aware of the possibility for a fully loaded logging truck to come flying down the road at any given moment, and laid out our paper maps across the hood of Jenny’s Jeep in search of a new place to spend the night.