Perfect sunny weather ... midday ... evokes images of bronze sunscreen lathered bodies wall-to-wall, noise, excitement, maybe a boardwalk with arcade music blaring ...
But this is the north woods of Maine. They do things a little differently here:
Monday, Labor Day, September 3, 2012:
This is the beautiful white sand beach at Lower Jo-Mary Lake. The water was bathwater-warm, and the sunshine was brilliant. The temperature was in the 70's F. So where were the crowds? Well, this is a pretty remote section of the Appalachian Trail. The nearest road access was many miles away. So I had the place all to myself.
The other big highlight of the day for me came where I turned around at Pemadumcook Lake and got a spectacular view of Katahdin, now just 44 trail miles away, but those miles are meandering miles, so it's a bit closer 'as the crow flies'. What a perfect day for this view. I will return to this point tomorrow, and based on the forecast, I expect to see nothing.
Full trail details follow ... from my personal journal. I'll insert photos as I have time.
I headed to the parking area right on Jo-Mary road itself. This parking area has plenty of room and was easy to find because quite a few other vehicles were parked there and there is a notable bridge over Cooper Brook right before the AT crossing. I prepared and headed out for my short leg north at 8AM.
The trail was so easy that I accomplished the distance in under an hour, and the distance was about 2.5 miles. I did the return trip in the same time, reloaded supplies quickly and headed out for a long northward leg at 10AM. That took me down Cooper Brook, mostly out of sight of it but then past two pretty areas where the stream gets lazy and boggy and wide and the trail passes right beside the water. Then it leaves Cooper Brook and goes ‘cross country’ to cross four outlet streams of Mud Pond, then gives you a good look at that pretty pond on its eastern shore before leaving it and again heading through forest to Lower Jo-Mary Lake.
The trail makes a big swing around the north end of this lake, sometimes in view of it and sometimes in the woods. The best views came from the Antlers Campsite where there are some huge old red pines, then from the north end of the lake where the trail comes within a couple feet of the water at a long narrow sandy beach, then finally on the east or north side of the lake where there is a short side trail to a very wide pretty (but not very long) white sand beach. You think of the beach on Labor Day, and you don’t think of it as completely abandoned, but as I stopped in there nobody was there.
Immediately after passing that beach the trail leaves Lower Jo-Mary Lake and ascends a few hundred feet over Potaywadjo Ridge—a gentle ascent and descent still on easy trail. On the north side of the ridge I stopped in at the Potaywadjo Spring shelter and then at the nearby huge spring – a fifteen foot wide pool where a significant flow of deep-rock cold water comes up, sort of bubbling up through white granite sand. I’d probably drink that water without treating it if I needed to.
From there I went on just a half mile or so to get the best view of the day – the view of Katahdin from the shore of Pemadumcook Lake. It’s a huge lake and the mountain looms up over it – still 44 trail miles away, but the trail meanders a lot. It had started out cloudy and foggy this morning and was even drizzling at the Jo-Mary gatehouse, but it had turned into a perfect day, with a light breeze and low humidity and temperature in the 70’s and excellent visibility. The mountain was under a cloud that shaded it but didn’t obstruct the views of it. It would have been an ideal day to be up there. I made this turn-around point at 2PM and got back to the parking area by 5:30.
Well, in the meantime, all the photos 'fit to print' are available at the link below, the title line to the map of today's hike:
AT Day 223 - Lower Jo-Mary Lake at EveryTrail
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