Posted by: kerryl29 | November 29, 2016

New England Day 5: Northward

With an all-day forecast of mostly sunny conditions following chilly temperatures overnight, I decided to return to Sandy River Pond for sunrise.  This would be my third visit to this location, having previously been there on Day 2 and Day 4.  The trees surrounding the pond were approaching peak and I had determined that the public access area–on the west side of the pond, adjacent to ME-4–would provide a potentially good spot for sunrise.  Mist off the water was likely, given the overnight temperatures; now if I could just get some clouds in the eastern sky, I’d be all set.  I wasn’t disappointed.

It was about a 45-minute ride to the pond so I had to get up extra early to be on site for the start of civil twilight.  But it was worth it.

Sunrise, Sandy River Pond, Franklin County, Maine

Sunrise, Sandy River Pond, Franklin County, Maine

This turned out to be one of those dawn settings where, for a few minutes, everything turns pink–the sky, the clouds, the light itself.

Sunrise, Sandy River Pond, Franklin County, Maine

Sunrise, Sandy River Pond, Franklin County, Maine

There was no wind at dawn so the reflections on the pond were glass-like.

Sunrise, Sandy River Pond, Franklin County, Maine

Sunrise, Sandy River Pond, Franklin County, Maine

The public access to Sandy River Pond is limited to a concrete boat launch, perhaps 20 feet in width, surrounded on both sides by dense stands of trees and shrubs and bordered on either end by private property.  As a result, perspectives are extremely limited.  But that doesn’t mean that compositional options aren’t available.  As you can see from the above photos, the area across the pond to the right had the largest amount of mist.  Once the pink light disappeared, as the sun began to rise, I pulled out the telephoto lens to play with the elements.

Misty Morning, Sandy River Pond, Franklin County, Maine

Misty Morning, Sandy River Pond, Franklin County, Maine

Misty Morning, Sandy River Pond, Franklin County, Maine

Misty Morning, Sandy River Pond, Franklin County, Maine

Misty Morning, Sandy River Pond, Franklin County, Maine

Misty Morning, Sandy River Pond, Franklin County, Maine

When I finished at the pond, I moved a bit north on ME-4 and spent a few moments photographing from the eastern Rangeley Lake Overlook.  Though this was after sunrise, I really liked the combination of elements.

Rangeley Lake, East Overlook, Franklin County, Maine

Rangeley Lake, East Overlook, Franklin County, Maine

Rangeley Lake, East Overlook, Franklin County, Maine

Rangeley Lake, East Overlook, Franklin County, Maine

Rangeley Lake, East Overlook, Franklin County, Maine

Rangeley Lake, East Overlook, Franklin County, Maine

Given the forecast, and the fact that I’d thoroughly scouted and photographed the area around both sides of Rangeley Lake in the previous few days, I decided to spend the better part of Day 5 looking over a new area:  the Kennebec River Valley, located well to the northeast of where I’d been thus far.

Northwest Maine (Scale: 1 in. = 10 mi.)

Northwest Maine (Scale: 1 in. = 10 mi.)

For context, my base of operations was about five miles west of Rumford (in the bottom left of the above map) on US-2.  My sunrise destination was about 10 miles southeast of the town of Rangeley.

The Kennebec River Valley runs north from the spot on the map demarcated by the town of Moscow, and runs alongside US-201.  Before the day was over, I followed the road all the way north to Jackman and then took ME-6 east for about 25 miles before turning around.

This was pretty, empty country.  While the foliage wasn’t really any further along than in the Rangeley Lakes area and the light wasn’t great, I’m still glad I made the drive.  About 10 miles south of Jackman I saw a huge bull moose on the west side of the road.  I pulled off the highway on the east side and while I was pondering whether to get my camera out of the trunk a noisy semi, coming from the other direction, kind of spooked the moose (who had been content to nibble on some foliage on one of the trees) and he meandered off into the forest.

Despite the light, I did take some pictures at a few spots along the way, beginning with a small wetland just north of the town of Bingham, not far from Moscow.

Wetland, Kennebec River Valley, Somerset County, Maine

Wetland, Kennebec River Valley, Somerset County, Maine

My next stop was at a pull-off on the west side of the road that was lined with birch trees.  The wide Kennebec River lay below.

Birches Black & White, Kennebec River Valley, Somerset County, Maine

Birches Black & White, Kennebec River Valley, Somerset County, Maine

At a rest area another 10 miles or so north, I made another stop.  It was a bit windy at this spot, but I was able to gain a shutter speed sufficient to freeze the action.

Kennebec River, Somerset County, Maine

Kennebec River, Somerset County, Maine

It was much calmer by the time I reached The Forks and stopped at another rest area.  I crossed the highway at this point and photographed the river from the shoulder of a bridge.

Kennebec River, Somerset County, Maine

Kennebec River, Somerset County, Maine

The most intriguing view, I think, was of Attean Pond, near where I saw the moose and not very far to the south of Jackman.  The overlook–the final rest stop on US 201 before reaching the border with Quebec–provides a distant view of the pond, which is dotted with tree-covered islands, has a foreground of hardwoods and coniferous trees and a background of low mountains.  I produced a panorama and a conventional horizontal image from this spot.

Attean Pond Panorama, Somerset County, Maine

Attean Pond Panorama, Somerset County, Maine

Attean Pond, Somerset County, Maine

Attean Pond, Somerset County, Maine

After scouting east of Jackman on ME-6 I drove all the way back to Rumford Center and then west to ME-113 into Evans Notch.  I arrived there about two hours before sunset.  My first stop was at the trailhead for “The Roost” trail, a steep one-mile one-way climb to an overlook of the notch.  I discovered, after making the climb, that while the view was terrific, this wasn’t a place to go on a sunny afternoon, as the view was looking almost straight into the sun.  I chalked the experience up to scouting and indeed I would return to this spot later in the trip, but in the morning.

After descending back to the car, I drove the length of the notch on ME-113, all the way to Basin Pond at the very southern end, just across the state line in New Hampshire.  Most of the locations in the notch, which is a mix of deciduous trees and conifers, with an emphasis on the former, were still almost entirely green.  But I did stop at one or two spots that had some color.

Bull Brook, Evans Notch, White Mountain National Forest, Maine

Bull Brook, Evans Notch, White Mountain National Forest, Maine

There aren’t many places in the notch from which to effectively photograph sunset.  There are some spots you can hike to, but doing so would require some pretty gnarly descents in the pitch dark–like the Roost, for instance.  The thought of descending that steep, rock-and-root-strewn trail in the dark, even with a headlamp or flashlight, struck me as something other than a good idea.  Besides, there were few clouds in the sky by the time sunset rolled around.  I drove to the Cold River Overlook–a small pull-out with an essentially southern view through the notch which I’d scouted on the drive to Basin Pond.  It was a bit overgrown and the perspective wasn’t the greatest, but I made a couple of images anyway.

Evans Notch from Cold River Overlook, White Mountain National Forest, Maine

Evans Notch from Cold River Overlook, White Mountain National Forest, Maine

Sunset, Cold River Overlook, Evans Notch, White Mountain National Forest, Maine

Sunset, Cold River Overlook, Evans Notch, White Mountain National Forest, Maine

And with that, my last full day based in Maine would come to an end.  I still had another morning.  I’d shoot sunrise along the Androscoggin River and make a few more images in the immediate area the following morning before decamping for the Kancamagus Highway in the White Mountains of New Hampshire en route to my new base in St. Johnsbury, Vermont.

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Responses

  1. Wow.

  2. Beautiful photographs!

  3. Dreamy and beautiful. Especially love the misty morning pictures at the Sandy River Pond. 🙂

  4. amazing http://www.aloisabsenger.wordpress.com

  5. The sunrise in the mist must have been a joyous experience. The images are extraordinarily beautiful.
    Thanks for letting us in ❤
    Hanna

    • Thanks very much. Yes, that was a very nice sunrise; the light and calm were complemented by the occasional cries of a pair of loons that I could occasionally see through the fog.

  6. Very nice pictures!!

  7. Even though the forecast was for mostly sunny, you definitely had enough clouds in the sky to keep things interesting. I love the birches b&w.

    • Thanks, Ellen. Though the sun was out almost constantly, the closest I came to completely clear skies was around sunset.

  8. Breathtaking!! I love the sunrise pictures which has gorgeous light-pink color!! My step-daughter lives in Rhode Island so I thought I knew how beautiful New England is, but I totally pay rapt attention to those pictures!! Thank you 🙂

    • Thanks!

      In my mind I’ve, somewhat superficially, kind of divided New England up into northern (Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont) and southern (Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island) sections, but during this trip I was in northern half of the northern section of New England virtually the entire time. I’ve spent some time in Rhode Island (and hope to do so again) and southeast Connecticut and these areas had a very different feel to them than what I experienced in the parts of ME, NH and VT that meandered around this fall.

      • I see!! Good to know! Thank you for the explanation 🙂

  9. Delicious photography!

    • Thanks very much!

  10. The sunrise is a real keeper, with the pink light and both horizontal and vertical view later. Also like the wide and zoom shots of Rangeley lake where I can see the changes in light.Although there is time and place for a bright shot I so love more pastel colour than our over-saturated world portrayed by many photographers today.The Kennebec River composition is so pleasing to my eye with the curve and complimentary colour. It is fun to read the comments and discover that in the perfection of the morning, it was highlighted by the call of loons -doesn’t get any better than that.

    • Thanks, Jane. Yes, hearing the loons was an added bonus that morning. I could only see them from time to time, due to the mist, but even when in view they were too far away to photograph. I’d seen a pair of loons, possibly the same ones, when I was there in the afternoon a couple of days before and got some shots but they’re little more than specks. While I was on site that afternoon, a couple of people dropped a canoe in the water from one of the nearby homes. There was a woman in the bow trying to photograph the loons while a man in the stern paddled, but the loons would simply swim away from them whenever they tried to get close.

  11. Your photos are amazing. I love the ones with the reflections of the water.

    • Thanks very much!

  12. The second of your pink sunrise series is, for me, the perfect one. The balance between the pinks of the sunrise and the autumn colors on the hills seems just right. It surprised me a bit to see how different each of the Rangeley Lake photos was from the others. I think I’d have to say the Kennebec River is my favorite, but I’m a sucker for sumac.

    It startled me to read “Rumford.” A woodworker I met through blogging lives there with his family, trying to make a living out of writing and woodworking. I have this hand-built table he made for me from flame birch. It was nice to see some photos of his part of the world.

    • Thanks very much!

      Re Rumford…I spent parts of six days in northwest Maine in late September and Rumford was the biggest town I passed through. Coupled with the small town of Mexico, which lies right across the Androscoggin River from Runmford, it has a supermarket, five or six gas stations, a high school with an athletic field, a paper mill (surely the largest employer) and a year-round population of nearly 8500 (between the two towns). The second largest town I passed through was Farmington, which hosts a University of Maine satellite campus (the main campus is in Orono) and is the seat of Franklin County. That has about 7700 year-round residents…but–I suspect as a result of the presence of the college–feels a lot more vibrant, alive and larger than Rumford/Mexico which has a decidedly down-at-the-heels vibe to it. Most of the towns/villages I passed through had fewer than 1000 people (some FAR fewer) and either next to no services or literally no commercial services at all.

      BTW, the table in the linked photo is a beautiful piece of furniture.

  13. […] to head west to ME-113 south back through Evans Notch (which I had visited on the afternoon of Day 5), and then west on NH-112 to Interstate 93 north to St. Johnsbury.  Why this route?  Because […]

  14. wow incredible photos! The sunrise is stunning!

  15. Kerry, the images of the sunrise at Sandy River Pond are transcendent and almost unreal. When you take a photo like this, does the emotional impact of the scene register with you at the time you are shooting? I think if I saw this through my viewfinder, I would feel like I was falling right into the image.

    • Thanks!

      Your question is a good one, and the best answer I can offer up is “sometimes.” I’d like to say that the impact of the scene is always present with me as I’m capturing it but I can’t honestly make that claim.

      Sometimes the light on a scene is so ethereal that it transcends everything else. The kind of ubiquitous pink light that was revealed the morning I was at Sandy River Pond isn’t the kind of thing I see very often. I experienced it twice while I was in the Canadian Rockies–once at Waterfowl Lakes in 2014 and once at Two Jake Lake in 2015. Perhaps I’ve seen it another handful of times, all told, in all the years I’ve been shooting. When it does happen, it often lasts for less than a minute, so if you’re not “of the moment” you might miss it altogether.

      But sometimes, it’s more than just the light. Sometimes it’s just an intangible holistic something that I can’t describe very well, where everything comes together and there’s this palpable, indescribable sense that something amazing is taking place. For that to occur–and it doesn’t happen all that often–there seems to be a set of criteria that has to be met: I have to be entirely alone, it has to be almost perfectly quiet and my sensory receptors have to really be working. (These are necessary, but not sufficient, factors.) I had one of my “meadow moments” near the Bow River Outlet a couple of years ago and I had another comparable experience while walking amid the redwoods. But by far the most dramatic example of this sort of thing took place, for me, at White Sands National Monument in New Mexico and is outlined in this blog entry from 2011.

      • Thanks for such a detailed answer, Kerry. I’ve experienced the same “intangible holistic something” but I’m not often able to capture it with my camera. Kudos to you – and I find your criteria very interesting. I think I need to practice more to be able to capture this visually when it occurs.

  16. […] the beginning, you may recall that I poked my nose, figuratively speaking, into Evans Notch on Day 5 and Day 6.  As a refresher, Evans Notch is a mostly north-south gap in the White Mountains, most […]


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