February 22, 2012

On Tuesday, February 21, I had the opportunity to travel to Chimney Pond.
  Conditions in the Park were nearly perfect with temperatures just below freezing and very little wind.  On the way in, I stopped to check the Togue Pond Bunkhouse.  This bunkhouse, located on the north end of the Visitor Center Building between Upper and Lower Togue Ponds, is an excellent alternative to the Roaring Brook Bunkhouse for smaller groups (the bunkhouse sleeps 4) who wish to break up their trip to Chimney.  The Togue Pond Bunkhouse is about a 1-2 hour ski from Abol Bridge and provides parties the option of a later departure from Abol Bridge yet the opportunity to get to Chimney Pond the following day with an 11 mile ski.
Skiing conditions on the Roaring Brook Road were perfect and it was great to see all the groups, large and small, working their way out of Chimney Pond and Katahdin Lake Wilderness Camps.  At Roaring Brook, I met Park Rangers assisting member of Wilderness Search and Rescue transport their gear out of the Park after a training excercise over the weekend. Seeing these dedicated volunteers reminds me once again how important a role the S&R volunteer groups play in the operation of the Park - especially when things go badly for someone in the wilderness.
When I reached Chimney Pond, I found all the facilities and the Ranger Camp in great shape - a testament to the attention of Park Rangers and visitors alike.  With binoculars, I could see a group working their way up the Chimney.  Next weekend, we have avalanche training on the schedule - another critical component of understanding and knowledge in the winter alpine environment.  The weather for the rest of the week is too warm for my liking in February in Baxter Park, but end of the week is now looking more like significant snow might fall - that would be great.  
On the way out from Chimney, I started meeting the next groups headed into the Park.  It's great to see so many people enjoying the Park in the way that Percival Baxter intended.  Let's hope for more snow and cooler weather and another six weeks of winter in Baxter State Park.
A winter visitor at Chimney Pond