Rangeley, Maine, we miss you already…but we’ll be back soon!

It is very necessary that I begin this entry by thanking the community of Rangeley, Maine for their hospitality.  It all started as we met Ron Haines on Wednesday at the Rangeley Lakes Regional Logging Museum.  For a crew that is used to surviving in the raw elements we found ourselves thrust into the lap of luxury.  Ron thought of our every need as he help us set up our camp at the Logging Museum.  A typical question we would be asked, “Do you have everything you need?  No, really, what can I get you?”  This sentiment was not only carried by Ron, but the whole community.  For a second we thought we were in a Twilight Zone episode where everyone all of the sudden wants to take care of you, but then we just realized that’s how they grow them in Rangeley.

Here we are at the Boarder Patrol Open House where Ron sniffed us out some good grub for lunch.

The Logging Museum is one end of a new portage we are working on across Haley Pond.  The other end is an awesome store/outfitter/guide service called Ecopelagicon.  The folks at Ecolpelogicon have been huge supporters of the NFCT and were very instrumental in helping us pull off our 10th Anniversary event.  An Ecopelogicon Employee, Peter, also joined us out on the trail when we were clearing the corridor. 

A planning map used to help layout the Gull Stream Pond Portage Trail

Our week in Rangeley was very non-typical.  Along with doing everything we could to open up our proposed trail corridor so we could begin planning for next year’s trail projects we were also helping to pull together our NFCT 10th Anniversary Event.  Lead by Rob Center; NFCT Staff, Volunteers, and community members came together to pull off a full day of fun for all.  The Stewardship Crew was primarily focuses on collaborating with the Logging Museum’s Festival.  This meant getting “Old Timey” and displaying how to make bog bridging using hand tools from a by-gone era; the cross-cut, adze, and draw knife lead the charge.  As the day played out, the Logging Competition Events had center stage and the NFCT Stewardship Crew participated where we could.  Sam and Brendan had a strong showing in the Cross-cut Competition, Allison had the crowd in a roar as she raced for the best time in the Pulpwood Stack, and I had a chance to split a little red dot painted on a piece of firewood.  Although we were doing the competitions “just for fun” there were two Through Paddler teams fielded.  At least two Through Paddlers, Dave and Pat, actually got cash prizes for their performances.


The Festival Grounds

Sam and Brendan getting ready to rip into a 10×10.  “Hey fellas, the saw is upside down!”

Just kidding, that is how people warm up to get their rhythm built up before taking the first cut.

One of the highlights of the Logging Festival is Rodney Richards, aka “The Mad Whittler” carving a bear to be auctioned off.  This year the bear went for $675 dollars.  The money will help re-roof the museum.  Way to go Rodney!

Somewhere along the line we built a float for the parade.  I must say, if you haven’t had the opportunity to build a float before, it is a ton of fun.  On Wednesday night we all sat down near the campfire at dusk and began sketching and brainstorming.  We had a great drafting of all the intricate parts of our to-be-built float when expectantly the piece of paper became fuel for the fire.  We did not find out this happened until the next morning, but we all had a good idea of what needed to be done.  Now all we needed was a truck and trailer.  Fortunately the good folks at M&H Logging pulled through just in the nick of time.  As far as I’m concerned they landed themselves the title of official Logging Company of the NFCT.  The trailer rolled in with just enough time to go into action.


Empty Canvas

Once we heard there were cash prizes we decided to go for gold.  Most of our props came from the woods.  Every time we went into the woods Butch Richards, a long time fixture and one of the primary volunteers of the event, would scratch his head and wonder what we would pull out next.  As the theme to the A-Team was playing in the background the float began to take on a life of its own.  We had the very pleasant surprise of having four Through Paddlers arrive as we were building the float.  Brother teams Jeff/Mike and Kevin/David instantly offered to help and we were extremely happy to have them aboard.

Making Waves

Brendan, Kevin, and Sam putting the teeter in the totter

The Motley Crew: 

NFCT Stewardship Interns Allison, Sam, Brendan, Brianna, and Kevin

NFCT PRogram Intern Erin Quigley on fiddle

Through Paddlers Jeff, Mike, Kevin, and Dave

NFCT Trail Director Walter Opuszynski

(Did I mention suspenders are the official garment of the NFCT Stewardship Intern Crew?)

We rode the float to the beginning of the parade on a steep hill outside of town.  As we were heading down the air brakes gave us shaky legs as we all tried to remain vertical against the occasional sudden stop.  This was especially difficult for Erin, the fiddle player.  We  found we were batting clean-up; a very pivotal position in any parade.  It was our responsibility to leave parade-goers with smiles on their faces.  It also presented us with a great opportunity.  We would be the last thing people would see, meaning they would remember us easier when it came to doling out prizes.  As it turns out we did not need any help at all.  Our float stood out like a sore thumb.  We had color, moving parts, a fiddle player, water guns, and we were unleashing healthy quantities of Tootsie Rolls and Fortune Cookies onto the crowd. 

So this gets us up to the parade, and is exactly where the celebration for the 10th Anniversary begins.  Upcoming blogs will begin to digest all of the events, people, and stories that make the celebration absolutely amazing on so many levels.  We are all looking on going back to Rangeley next year when we will be working on trail structures along the Gull Pond Stream Portage Trail.  We will be turning part of this project into a Waterway Work Trip, so stay tuned.  Anyone interested in doing meaningful, fun work in a great place should take a look at our “Get Involved” page on the NFCT website in March 2011 to sign up for this opportunity.

Rangeley, we’ll be back soon.


There are 2 comments

  1. Congratulations Walter and all the interns and thru paddlers who pitched in and helped. All reports are that the 10th Anniversary celebration was a great success.

  2. The energy and good spirits of the entire weekend could not have been better. A super thanks to Rob, Kay and our own Kate, and everyone involved with the planning and execution, in making the 10th Anniversary Party a rousing success.

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