Spring River Lake / by Greg Westrich

Paddling is just hiking in a boat.

For the Fourth, we headed down to Spring River Lake--one of numerous ponds and lakes in the Donnell Pond Reserved Land. There's a boat launch and a small beach about a mile east of the Tunk Mountain Trailhead on ME 182. There's a small sandy beach next to the boat launch. Mostly, the shore of the lake is camp-free. We only saw a few motor boats during the half day we were on the water. But we did see lots of other things.

From the water, you get great views of Catherine and Tunk Mountains.

 Tunk Mountain from an island in the lake's southern arm.

Tunk Mountain from an island in the lake's southern arm.

The shore of the lake is mostly rocky with sand banks and beaches here and there. On the west side of the lake about a mile from the boat launch, a small stream tumbles in. The stream connects Spring River Lake with Tunk Lake. The stream's clear water and sandy bottom is popular with sun fish. The fish--some at least eight inches long--come up and nibble on you as you stand in the water.

We pulled our boats up on the rocks at the mouth of the stream and had lunch. Ebony Jewelwing damselflies flitted about and the stream burbled over rocks, as towering clouds drifted overhead. During lunch a bald eagle sat across the cove atop a white pine. Later, it drifted over us to a different pine up the shore from us, where bluejays harried it. A mother common merganser with her four chicks swam by. The female would dip her head into the water, then each chick would do the same.

 Henry and Emma watch the mergansers

Henry and Emma watch the mergansers

While Ann relaxed on a rock, Henry, Emma, and I explored up the stream. Bright green and scarlet vegetation swung in the current, clinging to the rocky streambed. Around a bouldery bend, the stream opened up into a small pond with a huge granite monolith jutting out of it. Sun fish protected their small territories of sandy bottom in the pond. Beyond that was a shallow deadwater with a beaver dam on the far side. We had great views of both Catherine and Tunk Mountains. 

 Catherine Mountain across the deadwater

Catherine Mountain across the deadwater

After lunch, we paddled north to where the lake forms a T. The steady breeze was pushing waves at us. We stopped at a boulder sticking out of the water before heading back. We never really explored either arm of the T. The eastern one was narrow--more like a languid stream; the western wide and dotted with camps on the south shore.

On the way back we stopped at a low island so Emma could swim a little more.

On the island I discovered a patch of beautiful orchids growing in the spongy ground amid the sedges.

 Close up of one of the rose pogonias

Close up of one of the rose pogonias

We still weren't quite ready to leave the water, so we explored a shallow inlet near the boat launch. It ended in a low beaver dam. Across the swampy ground, towering above the alders, we could see a large beaver lodge.

A successful day of hiking for sure.