Acadia Journey

North Maine Woods

July 10-11

Finally, the pavement ended right after Greenville. We were heading north. There is a beautiful landscape in that part of Maine, hills, woods and lakes. The plan was to reach Fort Kent in northeast tip of the United States, but to do that we had to cross the part of Maine that has no public roads. This area called North Maine Woods is owned by logging companies. There are thousands of acres of virgin forest and a small network of private roads maintained by these companies. Roads in the area are gravel, or just ordinary forest tracts. Traditional maps do cover this area and access here requires a permit.

Attention Moose::Maine, USA::
Attention Moose
This is God's country ...::Maine, USA::
This is God's country ...
Two Jeeps at the checkpoint::Maine, USA::
Two Jeeps at the checkpoint
Telos Checkpoint::Maine, USA::
Telos Checkpoint

There are several guarded entry points to North Maine Woods. Telos Checkpoint was the one that we reached. It is not just pay the toll and you are free to go. You need to register by name, explain where are you going and for how many days. When we mentioned Fort Kent, the person at the gate did not know what to say. "I have been working here for many years and I do not remember anyone going so far" he replied. "I do not even know if it is possible," he continued. He gave as a map anyway and wished good luck. Near the booth was standing another Jeep with two flat tires and punctured spare. Single driver has just come from the woods. Poor boy was working on fixing them. "For how long have you been driving like that with two flat tires?" I asked. "Over 30 miles" I heard in reply. He did not want us to help him. He said he is fine, so we left and drove deep into the woods.

Road in North Maine Woods::Maine, USA::
Road in North Maine Woods
Moose by the road::Maine, USA::
Moose by the road
Balios packed in a less chaotic way::Maine, USA::
Balios packed in a less chaotic way

While driving in North Maine Woods we encountered many animals right on the road, the most frequently moose. The forest itself is very dense. We realized that when we saw fox running on the road in front of our Jeep for over 200 yards. Poor animal was in panic turning left and right but could not find an opening between trees that grow very closely together. To give a full picture about the forest we cannot forget about millions of flies and mosquitos. Good insect repellent is the only way to survive there.

In order to improve quality in some parts of the North Maine Woods, the roads are covered by ballast. The majority are simply pieces of sharp rocks. I knew that our tires are in bad condition and that the puncture is just a matter of time. We got our first flat tire at about 145 km / 90 miles of logging road. It would not be a big problem, but we left for an off-road trip with one spare and without tire repair kit. The cut in the tire was at least 2 inches long, hard to repair on the road anyway. Inflating a wheel (our initial approach) had no sense. Tire was losing its pressure almost immediately. We simply replaced the wheel. To get out of the woods into the civilization we would need to drive at least another 140 km / 80 miles. I decided to continue our trip as planned. It is hard to relax when you know that the next flat will make you stuck for good in the middle of nowhere with closest town and services in a far distance. It was Sunday and we noticed just a very few cars on the road for the whole day. It was getting late and we decided to find a place where we can camp for a night.

Our first flat tire::Maine, USA::
Our first flat tire
Camp in the woods::Maine, USA::
Camp in the woods
The tire is fixed::Maine, USA::
The tire is fixed

The next day we passed a logging utility station. I decided to stop and check whether it is possible to repair a tire broken the day before. Such places do not provide any public services. However, after a short conversation fixing a flat turned out to not to be not a problem. We could continue our journey with a spare in usable condition. The next flat tire we got was a few hours later, but that one had a very small puncture. We were able to drive inflating a tire every 20 min or so until we reached Allagash Checkpoint and finally Fort Kent, where it was repaired. In total, we drove over 300 km / 190 miles of logging roads in North Maine Woods.

Another road in Maine woods::Maine, USA::
Another road in Maine woods
Inflating punctured tire::Maine, USA::
Inflating punctured tire
Allagash Checkpoint::Maine, USA::
Allagash Checkpoint
Fort Kent Blockhouse::Maine, USA::
Fort Kent Blockhouse

Fort Kent is a small border town in the northeast corner of the United States, the north end of US Route 1; the other end is in Key West, Florida. It was time to cross a border and continue a journey in eastern Canada.

© 2011 Maciej Swulinski