The Gulf Hagas was a hike that my mother and I were very excited about. There are many different waterfalls and a canyon all in one area. How many we would get to see in this trip would depend on how long we wanted to hike.
We packed our stuff and left camp at nine am. It took longer than we thought to get there. We got to the hut, paid six dollars each and then two more dollars for a map. I, of course, asked if there were potties on the trail, and was shocked when I was told no. But thankfully, the nice lady told us that there was an outhouse right next to the hut that we could use before we got started. She also told us that they just did the soil test and were putting in a bathroom next week.
By the time we parked and got all of our stuff and walking sticks, I brought along my step-fathers stick, and started walking it was twelve noon. We only got a little ways down the dirt road when my mom remembered that she should pack her Tylenol for the hike. So we went back to the car, got the Tylenol and started walking again. It was now five past twelve.
We were walking along this dirt road, happy as clams and of course I was talking my mother’s ear off. She enjoys her peaceful walks when I am not around, but I love to talk and try to catch her up on everything happening in my life along with all of my hopes and dreams for my future. I am sure it drives her nuts, but she hasn’t told me to shut up yet. I make her laugh a lot and I love to hear my mom laugh.
We kept walking and walking and it was hot. We were getting a little tiffed that we hadn’t come across a sign or anything saying that we were even going the right way. Forty five minutes later we stop to take a look at the map to see what we may have missed.
We couldn’t really tell and we heard the woman at the hut tell us that we would be walking for 1.3 miles on the tote road but it seemed that we had walked a lot farther than that. Well, thankfully a car pulled up to us and my mom flagged them down. She asked if we were heading in the right direction to the head of the Gulf Hagas trail. The poor guys looked speechless. Then they tried to explain very nicely that we were nowhere near the trail.
I hung my head down in disbelief. We were already tired and now we had to back track. The men offered us a ride back to the trail and my mom didn’t even hesitate. She climbed right in. I eyed the men with suspicion, but they looked harmless enough. The young man driving looked about the same age as my son and the passenger looked about the same age as my mom. I had no choice since she was already in to go to the other side and climb in once they had the seat cleared off for me. I looked at their clock and it was 12:45. Forty five minutes wasted.
Well, that was just the beginning of the bad news. The men drove us right back to where we were parked and showed us that straight across from our vehicle was a pretty big sign right next to a foot path that led to the head of the trail. We felt like complete idiots. The men were super nice about it though, and they even asked us if we needed a map. It was even more embarrassing that we had to admit that we already had one. To say the least they wished us luck and actually sat there until we made our way down the trail.
Apparently they use the term “tote road” for their foot path. I have always used it when talking about a dirt road or something along those lines. Oh well, we gave the men a good laugh, I am sure. I wonder if they stopped at the hut and told the lady about our little mishap.
Ok so now we are on the right path and the hiking seemed pretty easy. It was nice to be in the shade after walking so long in the hot sun. We were very excited when we saw our first sign! We took the short cut trail off of the “tote road” (foot path), down to the head of the Gulf Hagas.
Once there we had a beautiful view of Stair Falls. Now this was worth getting lost. It was amazing. We climbed up on the big rocks that were there and ate our lunch. We finally had reached our first destination. Mom took some Tylenol and then we were raring to go once again.
The trail was rougher now. We were no longer on the “tote road”. Every hiker that passed us coming from the opposite direction commented on our walking sticks. My step-dad did a great job making these. Other people were carrying sticks that they broke off of trees or ski poles. I was pretty proud of our handmade walking sticks with their grips at the bottom. They were perfect. I told my mom that he should sell them to earn a little extra money in his retirement. We will see.
Our next sign said “Billings Falls View Point”. We took the path down and came to another spectacular view of the falls. This was also a good spot to see the depth of the canyon. The height was making me sick to my stomach. But mom wanted to take pictures so she lay on her belly across a big rock and got a great view down. I was too scared to even try that with her. I helped her back to solid ground and we continued our journey.
Our next goal was Buttermilk Falls. The hiking was tough. Each step we took was either up or down. There wasn’t any even ground. Rocks, trees, roots, water, log bridges, cliffs and gulley’s were constant now. Mom was getting tired and sore. This stretch seemed to go on forever. But we had no choice except to keep going forward. Mom said that there was no way she could back track. I was still feeling alright, so I took what I could carry of my mother’s and she was just left with her water bottle. She said this helped a little bit.
The trail stayed rough for what seemed like hours. My feet were getting sore now too. Mom kept stopping to stretch her back and rest a little. I was getting a little nervous. I kept saying that we had to be close. I think I kept saying this for hours. I was just trying to keep her going. I told her to rest as often as needed. There was another short cut trail to get back on the tote road at Buttermilk Falls.
This part of the hike seemed to be really dragging now. I was really concerned for my mom. We came to a sign and got excited. But all it said was “View Point” and neither of us had the energy to go down and check it out. We just wanted to find Buttermilk Falls and the sign to lead us to the short cut trail to go back.
So we kept going. A little while later mom stopped to take another break. Well, I just there and just looked around. When I looked behind us, I saw a sign. I ran over and it was a sign to the short cut trail. I was so excited. I hollered to mom that we walked right by it. We almost missed it!! I thanked God for having mom take a break right there and for me spotting the sign. We were still sore, but knew we were on our way up to the tote road.
Up we went. And yes, it was still a very rough trail and now it was all uphill along with the ups and downs of the trail. I kept thinking that I had to get my mom out of here one way or another. The Game Wardens wouldn’t come looking for us until nine at night and by then it would be dark. Have I told you that I am scared of the dark? And the Maine woods at night are very creepy. No way was I going to be in here in the dark. I had to keep her moving.
Mom stopped for a rest one more time and this time she said that she didn’t think that she could make it any farther. I let her know real fast that she was not staying out in the woods so she had to keep going. She did not have a choice.
We finally reached the junction sign to the tote road. We were very relieved and sad at the same time. The tote road was not a dirt road. It was just a trail that was a little easier than the trail that we were just on. So, trying to find the humor in our predicament, I told my mother that no matter what she had to hike out of here. Obviously we were delusional to think that the tote road was going to be a dirt road that they could come pick her up on a four wheeler or something. We had to hike out. They would have to hike in to find us, and then what? Tell them that we wanted to be carried out because we were too tired to walk? I don’t think that would have gone over very well at all. She laughed a little but I am pretty sure she wanted to hurt me if I kept talking.
The tote road was an easier trail and we didn’t take any more breaks. The mosquitos came out at about four thirty and we left our bug spray in the car. We had no idea that we would still be out here this late. At six thirty we finally made it back to the car.
I am a smoker and I didn’t even want a cigarette once we were there. We climbed in, turned the ac on and just sat there. We both had extra water in there but it was very warm. I drank mine anyway. I drove us out to the gate. We were too tired to even use the outhouse before our long drive home.
I had to get out at the gate to turn in our paper to say that we made it out of the woods. As soon as my feet hit the ground I thought I was going to die. I walked like an old lady to turn it in and then crept back to the car. Mom was laughing at me. But our next stop would be in Greenville to pick up some cold water for the drive home. Mom got out that time and it was my turn to laugh at her.
We were both in rough shape when we showed up back at camp at almost eight thirty that night. Our husbands and my nephew laughed at us. They were getting worried, but they also know how good we are at reading a map. (hee hee) They were ready to hear our stories from the day. But we needed our jammies and a good stiff drink before we said anything. The men were nice enough to cook our dinner too. It was a very nice ending to a very long day. But I will cherish every moment for the rest of my life.
Mom is planning our next hike as I write this. So as soon as I get my butt back to camp I will have more stories for you. Stay tuned for more of our adventures into the Maine woods!!