A surf and turf is one of my favorite fall escapades. It combines three of my preferred activities: kayaking, mountain hiking and camping. This year was exceptional because I was doing it with my son, Adam.
After considering various options, I decided to return to Attean Pond near Jackman. The intent was to kayak around the pond and climb Attean and Sally Mountains over a two day period. I had attempted to accomplish the same goal with two friends six years earlier with only partial success. Stormy weather prevented an ascent of Sally Mountain on the second day.
Adam and I began planning the expedition in early October. Uncooperative weather and his work schedule prevented us from realizing our objective until November. By then, the days were shorter and temperatures much colder. That probably explained why no one else wanted to join us. Veterans of many two-person outdoor adventures in all four seasons, we were undeterred.
The weather forecast for our two-day excursion was cool and sunny, but strong headwinds were predicted on day one. Our plan was to be at the Attean Boat Landing on the eastern end of the pond just after sunrise in hopes of avoiding the most intense gales. When we arrived, the westerly wind velocity already approximated 10 miles per hour and contrary to the forecast, showers were in the area. A brilliant rainbow was a good omen.
An old-timer who was probably a few years my junior was securing boats at the dock. After doubtfully looking us over, he observed, “There’s going to be a big blow out there today, hope you boys know what you’re doing.” Assuring him that we had a strategy for dealing with the wind, we hurriedly loaded our kayaks.
We did, in fact, have a game plan to minimize the impact of the wind. Instead of heading directly into the westerly gusts, we were going to paddle southwest for a long mile through a congregation of islands, assuming they would provide some protection. From there, we would proceed directly to the south shore. We calculated that the northwest angle of the shoreline would allow us to continue to our western destination relatively unimpeded by the anticipated “big blow.”
We were right, and so was the old-timer. While we encountered minimal resistance, substantial breaking waves were observed in the middle of the pond that would have been impossible to navigate.
Our campsite at sandy Hodgman Beach was idyllic. The trailhead for the path to one of the two Attean Mountain summits was a short distance to the left. The Attean Mountain Trail can only be accessed by water.
After setting up camp, Adam and I began the trek. While the narrow seldom-used trail is well-marked, blowdowns and rugged terrain provided a very challenging climb, particularly the steep boulder strewn summit cone. Our reward was glorious views of the pond and surrounding mountains. A bushwhack to the second summit was very unappealing so we decided to forego what appeared to be a substantial ordeal.
We returned to the campsite with sufficient time to gather firewood and prepare for dinner while there was still daylight. The chilly evening ended with a colorful sunset and the following morning began with an even more spectacular sunrise. After a quick breakfast, we packed our kayaks and navigated northerly toward Sally Mountain in calm waters.
Prior research indicated the trailhead for Sally Mountain began at Sally Beach Campsite on the northeast shore of the pond. An alternative access entails hiking west for about 2 miles from the Attean Road in Jackman along the Canadian Pacific Railway tracks. We easily located the campsite, which was situated on a sandy beach.
A prominent sign identified the beginning of our hike. Another well-marked trail, this one was in excellent condition. The path began with a gentle incline and then climbed more steadily to the start of a rocky west-leading and partially exposed ridge. We enjoyed periodic views while negotiating ledges on the elongated escarpment before arriving at the open summit. There were wonderful vistas of island congested Attean Pond and the lakes and mountains of western Maine and southern Quebec.
We returned to Sally Beach Campsite to discover a welcome tailwind for our paddle to Attean Pond Boat Landing. The old-timer wasn’t around to witness our safe arrival.