It seemed like hundreds. But for the sake of understated accuracy let’s go with 50. Painted turtle sightings that is, at Trues Pond in Montville.

These were just one of many May delights we found on our exploration of this uniquely shaped pond 15 miles west of Belfast.

Trues Pond is two miles long and full of many indentations and coves. Much of its shoreline is wild and undeveloped. We spent three hours poking around from end to end, first heading out from the launch site to the left, paddling under the Trues Pond Road bridge and circling the westernmost appendage of the pond. It didn’t take long before we spied our first kingfishers of the season. They weren’t in their raucous midsummer form yet, beautiful blue plumage, yes, but unusually silent, keeping their shrill chattering under wraps for paddlers to come in June.

Painted turtles were sunning themselves on every available perch: rocks, floating logs and muddy bankings. We were amazed at how many had managed to climb up to the ends of fallen trees hanging above the water. One Greg Louganis wannabe saw us coming and launched into a near-perfect swan dive into the water three feet below. Coming around a bend we often would hear the clacking of shells and scraping of claws on granite before we saw them as they scurried down a rock into the water. Seconds later we would see them swimming under our canoe. A few minutes later they would be back on their perches basking in the mid-morning sun.

Back under the bridge we paddled out through a brilliant green mosaic of grasses into the main thoroughfare of the pond and headed east. Passing by a forested island we spied a grove of tall pines on the far shore. The rustic red cabins of Camp NEOFA came into view. This classic Maine summer camp has been creating lifetime memories for youngsters for over 50 years and is also home to the Maine Fiddle Camp.

Just off the point we saw our first pair of loons of the season. As we watched them dive for fish and call to each other a third loon grabbed our attention as it belly-landed a few yards away, creating a cresting wave of water like a desperate 747 coming in with crippled landing gear.

A pair of honking Canada geese flew low over the treetops, a solitary cormorant struggled to lift off the water and get airborne, and woodpecker tapping echoed from shoreline to shoreline in a nearby secluded cove. A large hawk perched near the top of a dead pine watched us pass by. Nature puts on a dazzling show at Trues Pond.

We glided into a landing spot adjacent to the outlet dam at the narrow eastern end of the pond and took a half-hour break poking about the dam and enjoying the splendor of the sparkling waters of the St. George River as it continued its winding journey south to Thomaston.

A hundred yards downstream from the dam sits the impressive remains of a stone bridge that once spanned the river. We wondered how many descendants remained in the area of the men who carefully crafted and placed the stone years ago. What clever labor-saving ideas and devices had they used, or had it all been just brute force?

Afternoon obligations beckoned so we headed back to the boat launch. A freshening westerly breeze had sprung up to slow our progress a bit, but it gave us more opportunity to enjoy the sights we missed on the way down to the dam. Looking north into a wide cove we spied wave after wave of skinny white birch trees bent over at water’s edge. From a distance they looked like giant white eyebrows peering out at us.

Consult the Delorme Maine Atlas and Gazetteer (map #14) for help in getting to the Herbert H. Hannon boat landing on the Trues Pond Road on the Liberty-Montville town line, a half-mile south of Route 3. There is parking for two vehicles just off the road.

For those with connections to Bates College, one of the key players in the founding of Bates in 1855 was a Free Will Baptist minister living in Montville, Ebenezer Knowlton. His 1827 home on the Choate Road is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Michael Perry is the former director of the L.L.Bean Outdoor Discovery Schools, and founder of Dreams Unlimited, specializing in inspiring outdoor slide programs for civic groups, businesses, and schools. Contact:

[email protected]


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