Pat, Steve M., Devin, and Jim represented FSAR at Baxter State Park over the Memorial Day weekend as on-duty volunteers to assist in any search or rescue actions that required extra manpower.
Although the crew was not called into action, we all gained significant information and experience. Steve and Devin had never been to the Park before and Jim had never worked in the Park; it was Pat’s first role in the summer season. We were received by Jean Hoekwater, Park Naturalist, and Dave Stewart, Deputy Chief Ranger. We proceeded to the Visitor’s Center just before the main gate where we camped. The adjacent bunkhouse was occupied by personnel from Mahoosic Mountain Rescue Team (MMRT), an experienced team who shared many useful insights with us as to expectations and procedures.
Upon entering the park we were issued special placards for vehicle dashboards advising people that we were serving in the park in a search-and-rescue capacity and these allowed us parking and access where needed. We visited key campgrounds, meeting rangers and learning what SAR-related equipment they had and where it was stored. They seemed very happy to meet us and appreciated our willingness to be ready to assist.
We were on call from 2:00 pm to 10:00 pm while we were there but we were encouraged to see the park to develop familiarity, with the expectation at least two of us would be available from 2:00 on. We did a group hike along the Nesowadnehunk near Daicey Pond, and enjoyed Big and Little Niagara as well as other features of the stream.
In camp we discussed rope and belaying procedures, especially benefitting from Steve’s recent class at MDI and Devin’s classes at college. It was a useful way to occupy on-call time.
Sunday morning we broke camp, but the weather finally broke, too, and gave Steve and Devin their first views of Mount Katahdin, complete with snow in many areas. Among other things, we learned how to pack better for Baxter, how better to be ready for a late call-out on the mountain, park methods of operation and personnel we could expect to work for and with, and important aspects of Park layout. We all agreed it was a very useful time and we know it will enhance any emergency trip to Baxter as well as FSAR ventures closer to home.
Note: As the mountain was completely socked-in for most of the weekend, we spent time exploring areas both inside and outside the park. The rafting images were taken at the ‘Cribworks’ rapids on the west branch of the Penobscot River. Pat has extensive whitewater guiding experience on the Penobscot and was a wonderful guide with many stories about this section of the river. –Mit
All photos are by Devin
Big Niagara on the Nesowadnehunk Stream.
The day we headed home, the weather broke. This is the view from our campsite!