Notice the space between the between the platform and the front side of the shelter. This is typical of the shelters in Maine and a design I never understood. Does anyone know why they built them like this?
The log on the front of the shelter is the deacon's seat, a place to sit and gather without getting in the dark of the shelter, or to cook. The gap between the seat and the platform is for trapping porcupines who try to enter the shelter to gnaw the wood. This is an old function, there aren't as many porkies in the woods these days. It also a good place to put your boots to keep mud off the sleeping area. Check out this short thread on Maine shelters from a while back: http://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/showthread.php?t=3386
A shelter in Maine that is a good example of porcupine damage is located at Spaulding Mountain.
The critters have really chewed the leading edges of the boards of the sleeping deck.The shelter there is a little low to the ground and the porkies can get at the wood (salt). I don't know how to submit a photo to show the damage though. The fisher is the natural enemy of the porcupine and I think there are more fishers around now. The Cloud Pond Shelter reminds me a little of stonehenge with all the large boulders around.