I usually sleep pretty well in the camper. I’ll wake up a couple times in the night sometimes but, usually, I’ll sleep until just before dawn. I’ll usually go back to sleep and, depending on how lazy…er…laid back and in the camping groove I am, I’ll wait until Pammie starts stirring before I get up. This morning was typical. I slept until dawn, snoozed a bit and got up around 6:30 or so. By the time I decided to quit the coziness, it was probably a little after 7. I got up and poked around a bit and then started to get the fire going for breakfast. Miss Pam got up shortly after and started making coffee in the camper. I started to cook some bacon on the fire and, shortly after, threw on some eggs too. While we were eating breakfast THING1 and THING2 putted by coming back from fishing.
We had no site for today so our goal was to cruise around the area and find a spot. From our previous visit we knew there were many remote sites and we knew we’d find one eventually. After breakfast we packed up and headed for the showers. On the way we saw a deer hanging by the road, munching the grass and pretty much ignoring the cars going by. Our first wildlife sighting! Wahooooo!
The showers at Lily Bay are in the Dunn Point area of the park. There are eight or ten shower rooms with a shower and a bathroom. Showers are free and first-come-first-serve so you kind of have to walk around the building a few times to find a spot if it’s busy. I wasn’t going to take a shower but, after sitting in the van for a bit and watching a shower open up right in front of me, I changed my mind. While we were there, three kids who seemed to be siblings or close friends circled quite a few times trying to get in. I felt a little guilty because the youngest of the crew was still circling when we drove away.
We drove into Greenville to get another cup of joe and some wifi so I could do a little work before we split back into the woods. There’s a parking lot by the dock in Greenville with public wifi and there’s a coffee shop there too with better wifi that I was able to access from the parking lot. Pammie took the time to do a little shopping and, when she came back, I did the same and got an incredible deal on a sweet Pendleton shirt…twenty bucks and it fit poifect! Great for camping! Thanks for finding that Pam. While we’re in Greenville it starts to rain and bit. Not heavily, just intermittent drizzle with occasional bursts of heavier rain.
Okay, enough of this, let’s head into the woods and find a spot! We’ve got the DeLorme Maine Gazette and we’re looking for remote sites at Jewett Cove. First thing we have to find is which dirt road off Lily Bay Road leads out to Jewett Cove! We try a few, to no avail. We try a few more, to no avail. One of our problems is the fact that we can’t pass a dirt road into the woods without exploring them. This takes a LONG TIME in Moosehead! There are HUNDREDS of dirt roads into the woods in this area! We finally find the correct road to Jewett Cove. Pam checked it out on FreeCampsites.net and it looks cool. When we pull in, as expected, all the sites by the water are taken but there’s an open site back away from the water towards the road. I park the van in the open site and we decide to take a look around.
It’s still raining and gray. We pass a couple kids in raincoats playing with the campfire, which is more smoke than fire. I say something stupid like, “Going to be a wet day, eh?” and the kid gives me a look like ‘no shit!’ and says, “yup” and goes back to playing in the smoking embers. Pam and I walk down to the lake and we can see across the narrows over to the other side but not much else. The mountains are all socked in with clouds. When we get back to the van I head over to use the outhouse which is pretty swanky for a spot like this. There’s a quart bottle of hand sanitizer duct taped to the stink pipe and the place is very clean. When I get back to the van there’s an old guy in his boots and rain gear talking to Pammie through the open door in the camper. He says to me, “Looking for a campsite?” and we tell him we’re just getting started, this looks like a great spot but we’ll probably move on and try to find something else. I should have written the man’s name down. He proceeded to tell us that he’s been camping there for decades. Was there when Hurricane Katrina hit and rode out the storm right there next to the water. He’s got a camper that probably 30 feet from the water right at the front of the site. He tells us that there were forty trailer campers in there the night before and there was a single woman on the site we were on. She took off earlier today. He also tells us that he’s got friends and family coming from as far away as South Carolina today. There will be about twenty people and tonight will be a large party. We tell him it sounds great. Have fun with your family and thanks for the history. Super nice dude and definitely looking for someone to talk to! He tells us he hopes we find exactly what we’re looking for, whether it’s a huge party or total seclusion! With that we’re off again on the hunt.
On the way into Jewett Cove we saw…another dirt road into the woods! We head back out the road we came in and turn right on the other road thinking it may lead to one of the remote sites on the map. There are signs telling us an active logging operation is in progress. We proceed. This road kind of looks like the little squiggle on the DeLorme so we’re hoping we’ve got the right spot. We wind up, around, over, around, across, to and fro and eventually…couple miles?…come to a sign that tells us hard hats required beyond this point. We turn around and decide to have a beer and ponder the map a little more. There’s something that eluded me to this point of my camping adventures that’s right in my pocket but I’ve never used it for this purpose. The light bulb won’t go off for me until day 3. You may know it already.
We head back out the way we came in but take a left on the road the brought us to Jewett Cove planning to head towards Kokadjo. Along the way we try out a couple of roads to nowhere that lead to potential camp spots but no there’s no water around so we continue. We get to Kokadjo and drive around a bit but decide to head back towards Greenville to see if we missed any options. One thing we saw on the Lily Bay road was a sign on at the intersection of Frenchtown road that said Wilderness Camping. I can’t remember how far it was down Frenchtown Road, or what the place was called but we decided to check it out. FT road is a dirt road but it’s wide and well maintained and has a speed limit of 35 MPH. A ways down the road we started passing camp driveways on the left leading to spots on First Roach Pond. Towards the end of the pond you come to the campground. There’s a small office and then you pass a bunch of sites right on the pond and some not so close. We stopped at one that was pretty much right on the road just to check it out and walk down to the water.
After a brief stop, we head further down Frenchtown Road. Just before we pull out a Toyota Four Runner passes in fornt of us heading in the same direction we are. We pass into the AMC 100 mile wilderness and there’s a big sign telling us so. We think it’s got to mean there are some campsites up ahead! We pass by Second West Branch Pond and stop to check it out. There a bunch of canoes that people leave there to go fishing..I guess? There are nice racks to put them on and lots of them are just strewn around on the ground too. Kind of a weird site if you’ve never seen it before. We keep driving down Frenchtown Road and i see fresh tire tracks in front of us that i assume are the Toyota. We come to a spot where the road narrows to tire track with a grass hump in the middle. I press on. Just a we crest a small hill, the Toyota come at us from the other direction. I start to back up because there’s no room and they pull over into the brush. I pull ahead and they tell us they ran into a local a little ways ahead and they told them that there’s a barrier up ahead. Balls! They pass and I back down the road.
At this point it’s probably 3:30 in the afternoon. We’ve passed some potential sites and some campgrounds that had open sites. We can go back to any of them. I mention a dirt road to nowhere just before an emergency barrier that might have some potential. Pammis says let’s check it out! We head back about 5 miles or so and there it is. I turn in and we start down the road. Soon we come to a large puddle that looks ominous. I reason that it can’t be toooooo deep. We make it through. We come to many “tranny busters” poking out of the road, many, many “we should turn back” moments and then…a bridge! I pull up to it and decide it’s too risky with the help of my lovely wife BUT there’s a nice grassy area which is nice and flat jst before the bridge. I say, this is it! Pam is skeptical until we walk out on the bridge and see water to our right – a small bog – and a nice stream under the bridge. With a little coaxing, we decide to make camp here.
It’s still raining so I put the camper in a spot where we can open the awning and sit out after dinner. Pammie starts cooking up some shrimp and spinach. I mess around a bit and, at some point I notice a canoe in the road up by the turnaround spot about 300 feet up the road. Shortly thereafter, two dudes come down the road with their canoe on a set of wheels. I say hello and they ask, “can we get by your camper to cross that bridge?” I say, “sure!” They cruise through and then tell me that there’s usually 25 canoes in here and it’s a popular spot and that they’ll be coming out in total darkness so we should probably move. Then they cross the bridge and head into the bog.
I stow the awning so they can get by easier when they come out but NOT to pack up and leave. We’ve got a nice dinner going and it’s going to be dark soon. I SERIOUSLY doubt anyone else is coming in to fish. We put our chairs behind the van, facing the bridge, and have a killer meal. After dinner, we clean up and I move the van a little to the left so it’s even easier to get out. Now they have plenty of room and the van is more level!
We decide to blow up our inflatable kayak to head on into the bog in the morning. As we’re doing that, the dudes come out of the bog. One of them tells me that everything they told me on the way in was a lie and they head back to their car yukking it up. We finish inflating the kayak and head out on the bridge to catch the end of daylight before hitting the hay. We joke about seeing a moose. This is the perfect spot! Where’s our moose!?
When we finally kill the lights and go to sleep I am floored by how dark it is. I open and close my eyes many times and there is no difference whether they are open or shut. It’s pitch black. I can’t even see the screen six inches in front pf my face. I hold my hand in front of my face. Nothing. I can hear the stream flowing gently under the bridge and that’s IT. No light pollution. No trucks on the highway far off in the distance. No sound pollution either. LOVE IT! We found exactly what we wanted!