After a fantastic breakfast at the Deluxe Diner (Click here for the Facebook page of the Deluxe Diner) in Rumford, Maine, Paul and I head north for Angel Falls on route 17 through the “hardly towns at all” towns of Frye, Roxbury, Byron to Houghton. The directions from the Maine Trail finder link are fine, but it would have been helpful to know that the Bemis Road was at the north end of the open field it mentions. Click here for detailed information about Angel Falls.
Rolling along the dirt Bemis Road for 3.5 miles we are directed by a cardboard sign to the side road to Angel Falls. Spotting the promised large graffiti boulder at the parking area at the one-time gravel pit, we make a rookie mistake. Our directions say clearly that we should follow the red blazes (2”x 8” rectangles painted on trail trees or prominent rocks). We don’t. We follow two older women on what anyone would say is obviously a trail (See Paul in the picture to the right. Do hear an Amen?). We jump to the conclusion that this is the way.
Heading towards the storm-fueled Berdeen Stream from this past weekend’s downpour, we immediately forget about the red blazes and look to cross the waterway. Arriving at a field of slash (i.e., stripped branches, small logs from the lumbering company ) that covers the open spaces, we stomp across the lumber debris. There, in our way is the 25’ wide white water mountain stream. The women wisely abandon ship and head back to the trailhead.
Without a second thought, Paul removes his boots and socks, takes them in hand, and balances his way, barefooted across the very rocky stream. My amazement of Paul knows no bounds! There is no way that would I ever do such a studly thing on my own. But today I am with Paul. So I deboot and desock and head into the white water flow.
Not nearly as breathtakingly cold as I thought it would be, the water is still mountain stream chilly; but nothing like the bone chilling water in early summer at York Beach. I do wonder how bright a move this crossing is since I have my iPhone6 in my pocket, totally unprotected from the H2O. When the Maine Trail Finder said there would be rock hopping, I had no idea that fording a raging stream, barefoot no less, would be required.
Yet, I make it across and am so damn pleased with myself. Before us is a mountainside of slash from the havoc that men and women with their maniacal chainsaws have wrought. We see no trail nor red blazes, but we are not easily dismayed.
Bushwhacking through leaves, small firs, and brush, in what must be the Caribbean for ticks, we are relentless in our search of a trail. Climbing in and over the hillside of lumber waste, we go left, then right along the hillside; up the mountain, and down to the stream looking for something that resembles a trail.
For what seems like an hour we search the hillside to no avail. Paul, who will look for a trail til the cows come home, finally says “Let’s go back.” We do have Dunn Falls some 30 miles away to hike on our schedule today. And so be it. Today was not our Angel Falls day.
We do have to cross back over the roaring Berdeen Stream in all its ice-cold glory. Having one successful crossing without dunking my iPhone to my credit, I agree with the odds makers that think I just might make it a second time. Soon it is apparent that I am wobblier as these rounded, underwater boulders are not so forgiving.
As the current races, Paul throws me a bone, by which I mean a 5’ pole-like tree limb to steady myself. I quickly learn that a staff is not my preferred way of crossing a roaring stream barefooted. Losing my balance and heading for the chilly wetness, at the last second I catch myself, ever aware that my iPhone is inches from a watery grave.
Once across, Paul and I walk back to the trailhead parking to see four cars in the lot, not the two when we started. Hmmmmm. Someone has found the Angel Falls Trail. And then we turn and see…
Part 3 lets you in on what we see.