Dan and Paul Hike to Angel and Dunn Falls in Maine (Part 3 of 4)

Having given up our quest for Angel Falls after schlepping through the hillside slash for an hour, I ended Part 2 with this tease – 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…

AD 3 map of AF

What we see are the promised red blazes on both a large rock and a tree on either side of the logging road directly to our left.   Smiling to each other, without a bit of self-flagellation, we just up and head to Angel Falls 0.8 of a mile away.

Crossing the Berdeen Stream again, this time on a bridge wide enough for cars, we have none of the barefooted fording of the white water that we did just an hour ago.  Feeling confident that the rock hopping described in the Maine Trail Finder website  would be quite manageable, we buoyantly head for the cooling waters of the 90’ Angel Falls.  (Click here for detailed information of Angel Falls.)

AD 3AAA more P crossing

With the roar of the brook building, we see a torrent among boulders roiling from the deluge of the past weekend.  And so it appears my iPhone and I have more watery challenges ahead.   In the lead, Paul takes off his boots and socks and chucks them across the wild brook.   Knowing from our previous experience that the water is cold, but not bone chilling cold, I follow suit and whip my boots with socks across the deafening brook.

AD 3BBBBB D crossing brook

From my previous “barefoot crossing on rocks” experience, I have learned that I am most comfortable crossing on four points (i.e., on all fours).   With my legs submerged in the racing water that is stirring around my feet, I step on mini-boulders while using my hands to get low in the brook as I place them on rocks in the tumbling stream.  With my iPhone in my pocket, I step into the icy tempest and successfully cross.

AD 3C  trail along brook

The trail itself is within feet of the roaring brook as we climb the gorge into the interior.   With my confidence building and having figured out that the four-point technique is “water crossing gold,” I am ready to ford the brook two more times in my frog stance.

On this 74F day under the shade of brook trees, we head closer to the falls.   Crossing the brook twice more has me going slowly and steadily across the submerged rounded rocks, some slimy with algae and others surprisingly algae-free.  After a successful third crossing, I have the white water heaven of Angel Falls within my grasp.  I feel like an Outward Bounder; doing something I didn’t realize I could do.

AD 4B  P at Falls

And then boom!  The crashing white water over the 90’ falls to the pool below is as spectacular as any western waterfall in Mount Rainier National Park.  There are some who contend that Angel Falls is the highest in Maine, one foot more than the Moxie Falls.  (Click here for more information about Moxie Falls.)

Whether they are or not, the falls have me searching for superlatives – stunning, spectacular, dazzling.  None of these words is hyperbole.

AD 4C  section of upper falls

Knowing my iPhone and I still have three knee deep river crossings before we return to the trailhead, we head down the brook trail a little before noon.  There we see a family of six ready to cross.   The 13-year-old girl with pole in hand is half way across the boulders.   Throwing our shoes to her grandfather who catches them like the high school shortstop that we soon learn he was, we wonder about kids crossing such a torrent.

AD 3BBB D at brook crossing

They have water shoes so they are less vulnerable to slipping than I am in my barefeet.  Later a family with a kid looking just a little older than our four-year-old grandson Owen is contemplating crossing the turbulent waters.  I can hardly believe it.

AD 3F  putting boots on

We talk of our experience with them, but soon head down the trail before we learn what mom and dad decide to do.

After tromping through the slash of lumbering Maine, then being immersed in the raging book on the way to Angel Falls, we have hit waterfall nirvana.

Part 4 concludes our waterfall adventure at the Dunn Falls…

Dan and Paul Hike to Angel and Dunn Falls in Maine (Part 2 of 4)

AD 1A  D outside DD

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.

AD 2A  P at wrong trail

It looked like the trail to us!

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.

AD 2E  P crossing Berdeen Stream

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.

AD 2B slash

Slash

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.

AD 2D more bushwhacking

Bushwhacking through Tick Central

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.

AD 2CC D on slash

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.