Friday, September 14, 2012


Friday, September 7, 2012:

See if you can detect a pattern in the place names I list as I describe today's hike, (extracted from my personal journal with photos added):


 I was on the trail exactly as the sun rose, at a few minutes after 6AM, starting at the same place I started yesterday, the Pollywog Stream road crossing. After the trail (northbound) crosses the new wooden road bridge over Pollywog Stream and stays left (straight at a road junction immediately after that), it plunges into the woods for a half mile easy walk along the base of a side slope to Rainbow Stream.

Flumes on Rainbow Stream
Both Pollywog and Rainbow Streams empty into Nahmakanta Lake. The trail then follows Rainbow Stream for the next several miles through varying terrain, but usually on fairly easy trail. The lower part of the stream is swift and noisy and there are several cascades and flumes, then after a crossing of a smaller stream that drains Murphy Pond (you don’t see the pond), there’s a small wetland area where the stream passes through a bog – great spot to look for moose, but I saw none there.

Dead Marshes beside Rainbow Deadwaters
Not long after that comes the Rainbow Stream Lean-To. The trail goes right by the front of the shelter and then crosses the stream on a narrow footbridge also right in front of the shelter. At the shelter I met a lady who said she was 80 years old, from Ohio. She had hiked a good chunk of the Appalachian Trail starting at age 70 and still hoped to finish it. On this outing she was doing 40 miles and had packed two weeks’ worth of food to make that distance. Today she planned to go four miles to the Rainbow Spring campground. I wished her well and headed on toward that campground myself. But before reaching it the trail passes beside the Rainbow Deadwaters – a stretch of the stream that is really a set of long narrow ponds. The trail hugs these closely and is very rooty and boggy and difficult through this section – I came to call this section the Dead Marshes because of the look of the trail and the gnarly, looming, twisted cedar trees that stretch out over the water in one direction and over the trail in the other – usually it’s just that one row of trees that separates the trail from the Deadwaters – the latter is very scenic, but the trail itself was a pain.

Rainbow Deadwaters
Rainbow Spring and Rainbow Lake
Leaving the north end of the Deadwaters, the trail parts from the stream and passes a side trail which leads to the Rainbow Lake Dam where the stream drains the Lake. That’s a 0.2 mile trail and advertises a view of Katahdin, but it was still mostly cloudy and foggy, so I didn’t bother to take a look. The trail then continues beside Rainbow Lake for its entire length – many miles, but doesn’t give the hiker a chance to get close to it until the Rainbow Spring campsite. There a side trail to the spring also gives you that first view of the lake. There’s a pipe from the spring that gushes water onto the stones right beside the lake.

Rainbow Lake from near its south end
Beyond the campsite the trail again retreats into the woods and makes a small climb, passing side trails to Doughnut Lake, then an unmarked side trail that leads down to the lake at a small peninsula (possibly a private camp), and then a side trail that leads ¾ mile to the summit of Rainbow Mountain. Then finally the AT returns to the side of Rainbow Lake and the hiker finally gets a good long look at it, as the trail hugs the lake shore for about a mile, all the way to its southern end – yes, the lake curves around and ends up forcing the AT northbound to meander toward the SE.

After the end of the lake, this erroneous course is corrected and the trail returns to a northward heading and begins to climb gently up to the nice (unexpected), bedrock slabs of the Rainbow Ledges. I turned around at the sign indicating the high point of the ledges, and had not had any sniff of a look toward Katahdin, though the guide advertises that you can see it from Rainbow Ledges. That view must be farther along, but I had already hiked 11 miles of AT and taken nearly six hours, so it was time to turn around. After the foggy start, the weather had turned beautiful—mild and sunny—and remained that way as I made the return trip, enjoying the usually easy trail (except for the Dead Marshes) and complete lack of significant climbs or descents. The return trip took closer to five hours. I was back at my parking spot by Pollywog Stream at 5PM.


Then on the way back into Millinocket in the evening I stopped in at a roadside rest area and caught this shot of the big mountain at dusk.  The building on the peninsula is a Bed and Breakfast called 5 Lakes Lodge - what a beautiful setting!

Katahdin as seen from ME 11 rest area 7.5 mi S of Millinocket


Here's the map of today's hike with a link to more photos:

AT Day 226 - Rainbow Lake at EveryTrail
EveryTrail - Find the best Hiking in Maine

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