Friday, July 11, 2008

Day 51


FORT KENT! Another big mileage day (33mi) and we find ourselves at the end of this canoe trip. Crazy.

Started at Twin Brook and made Allagash Village by 7am. Enjoyed some good eats at 2 Rivers Restaraunt (they offer great food and lodging) and chatted with the locals before making our way down river to the bridge where we walked up to Allagash Outfitters.

Here we met another Hafford - Wilmer Hafford, who gave us some snacks and sent us on our way down to the St. John River. Left the Allagash and made Pelletiers Campsite around noon. Here we took a break and, already a good 17 miles into our day, decided to push on to Fort Kent as the site would soon be filled with adolescent boys from local camps - not the most serene place to camp for the night...

Good water levels and a strong tail wind and we found ourselves cruising along the home stretch at 5.5 miles/hour. Fast for expedition boating! Usually the river is pretty shallow and you have to pick and choose your way through the channels, but due to all the recent rain, we found it quite passable and plenty deep.

Made Riverside Park at 245pm and ran into Brett and Luke who had also paddled in earlier that day (happy birthday Brett!) Took some photos at the kiosk - a strange feeling to be standing here on the other end of the trail!

Found our way to the Norther Door Inn - if you are looking to stay in Fort Kent, they are about the only game in town aside from camping in the park. They provide shuttles from the park and are very paddler-friendly folks. Showers/food/sleep. Our last town day in Fort Kent tomorrow and then we get picked up on Saturday to travel home.

Thank you to those who helped us along the way - to our friends and family for all the support, the wonderful folks at NFCT who work tirelessly to make and maintain this trail, and to you - good reader - for joining us on our adventure!

Weather: fair

Wildlife: fox, bald eagle, kingfisher

"We have not ceased from exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time." ~T.S. Eliot

Day 50


We hauled 36 miles today! This odyssey began at Long Lake Dam campsite where we continued north, downstream on the Allagash.

Negotiated some rips on our way to Round Pond - felt like we were paddling through the Shire. Didn't see any Hobbits though. We did however come across some amazing old Elm trees that escaped dutch elm disease because of their remoteness. Wow.

Round Pond was mirror-smooth and we made short work of it. After some more rips we were on to the Musquacook Deadwater. Had lunch at Cunliffe Depot where we checked out the rusting remains of the Lombard Log Haulers in the woods - neat side trip.

After lunch we paddled to the rangers station at Michaud Farm to sign out of the Allagash. The ranger was waiting to meet us at the beach - turns out he was a Hafford, just like Cranky Pants. Those guys are everywhere...

Cruised down to Allagash Falls - churning whitewater 40 feet down over ledge - didn't think too hard about running that!

As we started to portage the heavens opened up - our hardest rain on trip to date. Rumbles of thunder off in the distance, but nothing got too close. The portage trail looked like a river - erosion in motion. Guess the rivers will be up!

Paddled on as the rain let up and negotiated some class 2 whitewater where we made camp at West Twin Brook. Officially broke 700 miles today. Whoa. 6 more left to go to the village of Allagash - we are planning on an early morning tomorrow to make town in time for breakfast at the diner.

What a day.

Weather: fair, cloudy, intense rain and thunder, light rain in camp - saw the whole spectrum today!

Wildlife: 6 moose, 11 bald eagles, 1 turtle, 3 kingfisher, 1 loon, blackflies, mergansers, canada geese, dragon flies, a snake, and lots of boy scouts (side story: in the middle of the intense rain as we were trying to get packed up for the portage, one of the boy scout leaders came down and started giving a lesson using our canoe and pointing out our pole, packbaskets, and paddles - saying that this is how "old school" canoers do it - weird experience, and poorly timed!)

"I find that the harder I seem to work, the more luck I seem to have." ~Thomas Jefferson

Day 49


Slept in a bit since we couldn't start down the Allagash below the dam until about 8am when the dam let out less water to make the river runable. The ranger opened it up over night to double the normal level to purge some water from all of the recent rain!

Put in just below Churchill Dam and ran down through some crazy bony rapids for about 4 miles. Water rated as "class 2" should probably have just been listed as "rocks". There were two sections that we came across with no clear line through - not a problem for plastic boats where you can Dukes of Hazzard your way through the rocks, but a bit of trouble for us in our hand built wood canvas canoe!

We were glad that we had the ranger shuttle our gear down past the rapids so we could run the river with a lighter load. Ended up lining a few sections, but overall we paddled well through the rapids. India held up great and came out the other end intact! A bit of a risk, but we felt up to the task and Bean rocked out in the bow - a paddling machine!

After this section the river deepened and became more navigable. Saw a moose munching on some river grass and cooling off in the water right in the center of the river - Bean thought it looked like a good idea and went for a swim to cool off as well.

Paddled across Umsaskis Lake in a hard cross wind to the Ledges campsite where we had lunch in the shade. Put back in and paddled through the thoroughfare and set sail across Long Lake. A good following wind bore us all the way across to the other end before turning to the side as we reached Harvey Pond.

Stopped at the portage around the old dam and decided that we liked the campsite so we stayed there for the night. Had some dinner and went for a swim. Then we hung out with our neighbors, Clint and Crystal. As it happens they have done some volunteer work with the NFCT and race canoes together - quite the gandfather/granddaughter team!

Weather: hot! and sunny - looks like rain tonight

Wildlife: 6 moose, 6 loons, 2 bald eagles, osprey, kingfisher - an earwig that Bean flicked into the water was promptly eaten by a fish (she was very excited about this small drama in the circle of life...) and a curious swarm of large, black ants with wings at sunset at our campsite. Huh.

"People are the massive variable. I go with one person who is basically made of granite. You want someone who is watching out for you to a degree you never question." ~Todd Skinner

Day 48


Alpine start and on the water by 5am. Lake was much calmer to Lock Dam and then became down right glassy after we passed McCarren Campsite. As we rounded the corner into the cove where the Tramway Carry is we spotted a moose feeding on the grass in the water - drifted along and enjoyed the moment.

A sloppy carry along the Tramway. Muck up to calves and hordes of misquitos. But it was all worth it for the amazing train remnants that we came across - including 2 steam locomotives that hauled logs from Eagle Lake to Chamberlain Lake from 1927-1933. One moment you are portaging along and the next thing you know you are standing in front of two huge train - neat!

Put back in onto Eagle Lake - where we saw the mother of all leeches as we loaded our boat - freaky.

Paddled around Hog Island and Farm Island to the upper end of Eagle Lake. Set sail through Round Pond and across Churchill Lake to The Jaws campsite. 21 miles in 7 hours with 2.25 miles of carry in the middle - not bad. Hung out and ate lunch. Siesta. Watched two cow moose with 3 young feeding on grass in the water near the camp - wow!

Sailed across Heron Lake to Churchill Dam - portaged to the campsite and set up shop for the night. We begin our travels down the Allagash River tomorrow - a day of whitewater. Should be fun!

Weather: Clear, sun - roasting!

Wildlife: 2 bald eagles, a dog, 3 loons, osprey, canada geese with young, and a leech that looked like a sheet of black construction paper with fangs...

"You drink your sweat in this world." Kenyan Proverb

Day 47


Began the day at Umbazooksus Stream West Campsite. Our new friends from Hermon packed up and rolled out early to head back home - safe journey! Hung around until 10am when our shuttle from the Inn showed up right on time.

Packed up our gear and the boat and shuttled down to Chamberlain Lake at the bridge. Signed in at the Ranger Station and had some lunch before packing up the boat and getting ready to paddle again.

Here we officially paddled out into the Allagash Wilderness Waterway - one of the more remote sections of the trail. We were pretty excited as we have heard how beautiful the Allagash is!

As we paddled out onto Chamberlain Lake we chose the conservative route and stuck close to shore and made our crossings as short as possible as a strong wind had kicked up waves. Originally had plans to make it to Lock Dam tonight, but the headwind and the waves made it a bit of a challenge - so we decided to stop early and make camp on a rocky outcrop.

The plan is to go to bed early and get up at the crack of dawn in the hopes that the wind and waves will have died down a bit so that we can make our way up the lake to the carry into Eagle Lake without too much difficulty.

We hope to hit the Allagash River proper by Tuesday. Our food is a bit tight, but with a little careful planning we should be good to go (it probably feels like a short ammount of food because we always have way too much!)

Weather: joyous sunshine, difficult headwind

Wildlife: hawk, canada geese, loon - and a skeleton on the shore of Chamberlain Lake - moose?

"We make ourselves rich by making our wants few." ~Henry David Thoreau

Day 46


Awoke for the last time (this trip anyway) at Norcross Point to a good homemade breakfast courtesy of Jonathan - the man can cook! Broke camp and bid our hosts farewell - Camp Palleschi is the place to be in summer on Moosehead - we were blessed to spend such a great couple of days there!

Put back in at the bridge at Hannibals Crossing. Paddled 16 miles to Chesuncook Village on Chesuncook Lake. Crossed paths with Luke and Brett again and paddled the last bit into town with them. Got some tasty homebrewed root beer and homemade fudge at "the store" and then wandered over to the Chesuncook Inn to set up a shuttle around the Mud Pond Carry (heard that it was pretty nasty right now...)

The shuttle was a bit pricey, but split between 4 (Brett and Luke as well as us) it was a bit more manageable. If you are planning on arranging the shuttle, contact the Inn a couple of weeks in advance so that they can get everything set up - we lucked out in that they were willing and able to make it happen the next morning at 10am.

In the future, we would probably just paddle up to the West Side Campsite on Umbazooksus Stream and bum a ride - especially if it is near the weekend as there are always locals hanging out there camping - we discovered this after we paddled there to camp for the night. One dude, Uncle Kenny, lives there all summer in his camper. Everyone we met was super nice and we hung out with a few folks from the Hermon, ME area before we turned in. A good evening around the fire.

Weather: awesome

Wildlife: bald eagle, huge frogs, beaver, camp groups, and bison (there were about a dozen or so of them in a fenced in area at Chesuncook Village - didn't see that one coming!)

"Adventure is worthwhile in itself." ~Amelia Earheart

Day 45


For our 4th of July we did a bit of paddling with a little help from our friends. Paddled to the Northeast Carry with Chris in her kayak and then shuttled back to camp for lunch (and cookies!)

As we hung out in hammocks and lazed around camp, we saw two guys go paddling by in a packed Old Town Tripper - they looked at first like Paul and Jonathan (fellow NFCT paddlers) but they didn't seem to recognize us when we waved and continued on in the direction of the carry.

Portaged down to the West Branch of the Penobscot and paddled down to Hannibals Crossing with Chris, Jenn, and Shaun. It was most excellent to have company on the river - we rafted up for snack time and drifted by some moose (one of which ran up a bank, smacked into a tree, and then ran down river alongside us for a couple of minutes - thats a lot of meat in motion!)

As we were doing the shuttle to get back to camp, up paddles the two dudes in the Old Town Tripper - turns out that they are Brett and Luke - also fellow NFCT paddlers! Talked a bit at the bridge and then they continued on down the river with plans to camp at Thoreau Island. Awesome guys.

Back at camp for some dinner and to enjoy the local fireworks - quite a show!

And then, inevitably, we played cards. It was excellent. Happy 4th!

Weather: Fair, hanging in the hammock weather

Wildlife: 3 moose, a fox with a rabbit in its mouth, 15-20 rabbits, brook trout, muskrat, juvenile bald eagle, bald eagle, loons

"Keep company with those who make you better." ~English proverb

Day 44


Camp Day! Did a bit more mowing, a bit more reading - played a bit more cribbage and ate a lot of great food. Hot chocolate chip cookies just out of the oven...mmm...

Everyone jumped right in and we all got the dock in the water - no small task, and a bit damp at that! Had a phenomenal day just puttering around camp.

Sadly Chip-Chop passed away in the night, poor little bugger. Guess he is off in the clover fields of Bunny Valhalla. Rest in peace.

Weather: partly cloudy with a bit of rain

Wildlife: loon and camp dogs...crazy pups!

"The hours when the mind is absorbed by beauty are the only hours when we truly live." ~Richard Jefferies

Day 43


4am start and on the water by 5am to paddle across Moosehead Lake. We wanted to make sure we paddled in as calm conditions as possible - and the lake was without a riffle. Paddled down the last stretch of the Moose River and out into Moosehead proper just as the sun was rising behind Mt. Kineo - awe-inspiring.

Managed the large crossings to Kineo, Shaw Mountain, and across Big and Little Duck Coves with relative ease. Made it to Camp Palleschi (friends camp on Norcross Point) by 945am - 17 miles!

Of course, this was much quicker (we were expecting to encounter lots of wind and big waves) than we had anticipated and we ended up beating everyone to camp - so we ended up hanging around. Enjoyed a pleasant siesta, had some lunch, and did a little reading.

Folks showed up around 2pm and we helped get camp settled - moved a couch, did a little mowing, and helped unload vehicles. While we were mowing, we found a small rabbit all by itself in the tall grass - we promptly named it Chip-Chop (since thats what it almost was in the mower...) and set it up with a little food and water outside. The little guy fits right in the palm of one hand with room to spare.

Played some cribbage and called it a day. Camp living for the next few days. Life is good.

Weather: sunny and still in the day, thunderstorm at night

Wildlife: Chip-Chop and 3 loons

"What is more peaceable than a canoe at the dock in the sunshine as the waves slip gently under it, swaying its cane seats and their elegant crochet of shadows?" ~Wesley McNair

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Day 42


Up on the bright and early to shuttle back up to the portage from Casa de la Zach. Little bit of a gnarly portage down to the water - winding, lots of little trees, and the saplings that had been cut out to make the trail remained behind as punji sticks waiting to skewer a hapless portager who might slip. Luckily, this was not us...

Paddled out into Little Brassua and passed an Outward Bound group just begining to stir in camp. Followed the lake out into Brassua proper and made good time to the dam where we portaged along a grassy trail to the Moose River beyond. Continued downstream through some fun class 1 whitewater and pulled out at the OB base and called it a day. About 10 miles, 2 portages, and all in about 2.5 hours. Not too shabby.

A gorgeous view of Mt. Kineo greeted us as we drew near our destination. Big water ahead!

Went to Greenville to re-supply, get some food, and update this blog. We leave for Moosehead tomorrow (hoping to take a couple of days to chill out at a friend's camp near the Northeast carry) and approach the last few hundred miles of the journey. A good day.

Weather: mostly cloudy

Wildlife: 4 loons, a bald eagle, a dead moose hanging out in an eddy, yum- but mostly just sticks floating in the lakes

A little rain each day will fill the rivers to overflowing. ~African Proverb (its true, we've seen it...)

Day 41


Paddled out of Attean Pond into Big Wood Pond and onto the swiftly moving Moose River. A rock metamorphosed into a moose right in front of us as we made the transition onto Long Pond - stood there gawking at us before making up its mind to run as swiftly and with as little coordination as possible through deep water to the bog. Quite a sight.

Sailed all the way down Long Pond where we caught a bit of lunch at the Lower Narrows before continuing on. The Moose River just kept picking up speed - eventually we ended up pulling up to a portage on river left to the Demo Road bridge. The rapids are a severe class 3 and go all the way down to the Brassua lakes.

Caught a ride to Rockwood where we met up with Zach, a friend of ours who works for Outward Bound. He cooked us up a mean stir fry, let us use the showers and do laundry, and then gave us a place to crash. Super awesome. Tomorrow we shuttle back out and portage in to the put in below the falls to paddle the Brassuas.

Weather: rain in the morning, clearing

Wildlife: 3 moose, 5 bald eagles, 7 loons, 3 kingfishers, 3 hummingbirds and a fox. What a day!

Water has no taste, no color, no odor; it cannot be defined, art relished while ever mysterious. Not necessary to life, but rather life itself. It fills us with a gratification that exceeds the delight of the senses. ~ANTOINE DE SAINT-EXUPERY

Day 40


Rained all night and woke to a very damp camp. Ate breakfast, loaded the boat, and began to paddle the Moose River - simultaneously, it began to rain again.

And then it rained harder. Despite the dampness, we enjoyed our paddle down the river - the water is up and we moved right along! About the time we pulled up to Attean Falls to scout the rapids the rain let up. Decided to run it and maneuvered through without a hitch - a good line.

Paddled out into Attean Lake around noon and enjoyed a floating lunch to avoid the bugs. Made our way to Sally Beach where we called it a day. Siesta in camp and then dinner - biscuits cooked up in our Fry Bake with a twiggy fire and some soup, yum!

Looks like we are right on track for hitting Moosehead around the 4th!

Weather: rain, then windy and fair

Wildlife: 3 kingfishers, merganser, 3 loons

A lake is the landscape's most beautiful and expressive feature. It is earth's eye; looking into which the beholder measures the depth of his own nature. ~Henry David Thoreau

Day 39


Family Day here on the NFCT! Awoke at our camp and packed up quickly so we could bum a ride from a raft guide out to the Forks where we called Bean's parents to meet up with them for lunch/dinner. Something we had been looking forward to and trying to set up for a little while.

Got some food, coffee, and good conversation at a local brew pub. After the feast we shuttled up 201 to Spencer Road and the down Spencer Rips Road - all easily navigated roads with good signage. This by-passes the section of Spencer Stream to Spencer Lake. After scouting Spencer Stream and reading the description on the map we decided to go around this part - shallow and swift water, class 1+ to 2 whitewater and upriver with lots of rocks... As we were unable to get easy access to the lake, and the upper portion is largely unnavigable, we decided to put in on the Moose River.

Luckily, "Team Rally Echo" (beans folks) were there to see us through - the little toyota echo handled the roads, our boat, and all of us readily enough. Short portage from the car to the trail followed. Bid a fond farewell to the parentals (with plans to meet again in Baxter soon!) Now sitting in camp with the rain coming down and the Moose River cruising by our tent.

Weather: overcast, rain

Wildlife: deer, moose

Rivers are roads which move, and which carry us whither we desire to go. ~Blaise Pascal

Day 38


Woke up to more thunderstorms this morning - had planned to get up at 5am and get moving, but we decided to give it a little bit of time to pass, so we rolled over and went back to sleep! Took our time packing up as the campsite was so nice - very tempting to stay a few more days here...

Great paddle in the sunshine and then set sail when we gained a following wind - all the way to Long Falls Dam at the end of the lake. Gorgeous views of the Bigs - a most excellent morning! Packed up for portage #1 of the day, ate a quick lunch, then began the haul down to the Dead River. Put in at the boat launch further down river than the NFCT put in - past the campsite at Big Eddy and all the bony whitewater (the water is up and moving fast!)

A fast 7 miles followed down the Dead to the highwater portage around Grand Falls. No sooner had we pulled up than the misquitos descended and occupied every exposed piece of skin. Today we were involuntary blood donors...

A gnarly portage through a wet boggy sphagnum area, waist high brambles, an irregular 4X4 trail and then onto a dirt road with lots of mud - the worst part though was the bugs! We were both pretty beat by the end of the whole escapade, but the view of the falls after we put back in on the other side brightened our day a bit! Certainly couldn't have paddled those - 30 ft straight down onto rocks - ouch.

Made our way downriver to the confluence of Spencer Stream and the Dead River where we made our camp for the night - how nice to have a tent/misquito free space!

Weather: sunny/hot, no shirt day, short shower and low clouds

Wildlife: Coyote (right on the shore of Flagstaff!) bald eagle, osprey, 10 loons, kingfisher, 3 mergansers, ENORMOUS beaver, swallowtail butterfly, misquitos - their hum will haunt my dreams...

For whatever we lose (like a you or a me),

It's always our self we find in the sea.

~e.e. cummings

Day 37


Currently riding out a gnarly thunderstorm at Hurricane Island on Flagstaff Lake. Paddled about 12.5 miles today after shuttling around the South Branch of the Dead River. We heard a local report that it was really bony, had several river-wide strainers (trees blocking the river), difficult to navigate rapids at the end, and is relatively isolated in spots - erring on the side of caution we decided to shuttle via Bob from Gull Pond Lodge.

Quick stop in town this morning to get mail and send out packages - thanks for the food Ca-tay-tay! Put in on Flagstaff at the new NFCT kiosk near the boat launch (pretty sweet signage, well done NFCT folks!)

Sailed the first part to Savage Farm then turned eastward and began to fight a headwind all the way to camp. Raced the storm to camp, got everything set up and dinner eaten just in the nick of time before the heavens opened up! All along the paddle there are gorgeous views of the Bigelow mountains - we can see why our friend Chip loves this section (by the way - congrats on the recent retirement!) Hope the hikers are hunkering down up there on the Appalachian Trail!

Nothing but the sound of rain on the tent, the distant rumble of thunder, and the lonely call of a loon to fall asleep to...

Weather: fair and hot - the thunderstorms

Wildlife: osprey, snowshoe hare, 8 loons, kingfisher

"When the night is cloudy

there is still a light that shines on me

shine until tomorrow

let it be." ~John Lennon

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Day 36


Rangeley town day. A rest and re-supply day. Bob shuttled us back to town this morning - hitting the post office, library, and stores. Food.

A happy sunshine kind of day.

Weather: perfect

Wildlife: bean in the garden outside of the library
"We are plain quiet folk and have no use for adventures. Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner! I can't think what anybody sees in them." ~The Hobbit

Day 35


Awoke at our stealth camp on the Upper Dam portage after a night of steady rain to find the sun greeting us from a relatively clear sky - miraculous.

Paddled northward up Mooselookmeguntic, a beautiful lake with several islands to shelter a paddler from the wind and waves. Worked our way through a headwind to Shelter Island where we turned eastward and sailed to Stony Batter Point.

A short paddle from there brought us to Haines Landing where we portaged 1 mile into Rangeley Lake. Along the way we met some Unity Students hanging out at a general store - small world...

Sailed from the put in all the way down the lake to City Cove - maybe 6 miles or so. Good strong wind - we could see the clouds building behind us, might see a thunderstorm soon. 23.2 miles today!

Found our way to Gull Pond Lodge - a hostel that caters mostly to thru-hikers on the Appalachian Trail. NFCT paddlers should look it up, Bob is a gracious host and offers shuttles to town and a cozy place to rest (207.864.5563)! We plan to zero out tomorrow and re-supply here in town. Supplies and such get a bit thin from here on in, so we have a few mail drops to work out.
Above: Bean portages India into Mooselookmeguntic Lake

Weather: fine and breezy

Wildlife: 6 loons, heron, after starting the portage we returned to find a deer hanging our next to our gear in the campsite, wow!

"The race will go to the curious, the slightly mad and those with an unsated passion for learning and daredeviltry." ~ Tom Peters

Day 34


Woke up early and jumped right into the 3+ mile portage around the Rapid River to the Richardson Lakes. The first part of the trail out of the campsites had been flooded from the Rapid - cold and wet right off the start. Tasty.

Made it to Forest Lodge, the site of Louise Dickinson Rich's homestead (We Took To The Woods author) and found ourselves in the midst of lunchtime. What a happy coincidence. Helped get a big meal together and then enjoyed the fruits of our labors in the midst of several fly fisherman who were there chasing fish in the ponds thereabouts. Aldro and Collin are great hosts, supplying us with a tour of the place, some fresh spring water, and a lift over the last part of the portage.

Battled a crazy crosswind that covered the lake in whitecaps and 2-3 foot swells to make it up to the narrows. From there we were able to sail with the tarp to the take out at the portage to Mooselookmeguntic Lake - just in the nick of time as the wind kicked up even bigger swells. The dock at the take out was bucking and bouncing all over the place on its tie downs. Clang Clang Clang.

Stealth camped along the portage route - good thing it was a Monday night and all of the camps were emptied out from the weekend!

Weather: light rain, saw the sun today - hooray!

Wildlife: 18 Loons!, coopers hawk, sharp shinned hawk, bald eagle, osprey, heron

"The water's murmur is the voice of my father's father. The rivers are our brothers, they quench our thirst. The rivers carry our canoes and feed our children. If we sell you our lands, you must remember, and teach your children, that the rivers are our brothers, and yours. And you must henceforth give the rivers the kindness you would give any brother." ~Chief Seattle - speech at an 1854 tribal assembly concerning the sale of land to the US Government

Day 33


MAINE! Officially paddled into our homestate around noon across Umbagog Lake. Super excited to be back in Maine.

Departed from Northern Waters Outfitters and portaged along a dirt road to a put in above the dam. This portage killed our second portage cart. Sadness. It lived a short while with us, endured many a mile, and then passed away helping get us to Maine. And so it will be missed...may it rest in peace...have to take a look at getting another one in Rangeley.

Followed the Androscoggin up river and into Umbagog where we picked up the Rapid River. It really is moving rapidly. Got caught in a fast moving thunderstorm around lunch and then a larger one around 2pm while we were at Cedar Stump campsite. Set up the tarp and made some hot chocolate. Hung out with a father and son who were paddling in the area - made dinner and then turned in early. Big portage tomorrow. From the looks of it, some of the portage trail is underwater - should be interesting.

Weather: thunderstorms

Wildlife: no-see-ums and misquitos out in force. Osprey, loons.

"All was well until one day they met a thunderstorm - more than a thunderstorm, a thunder-battle. You know how terrific a really big thunderstorm can be down in the land and in a river-valley; especially at times when two great thunderstorms meet and clash." ~The Hobbit

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Day 32


Headed down river on the Androscoggin. Picked up our mail in town (thanks for sending the new maps, Dad!) and swung by the local outfitter in town. We have arranged the return shuttle from Neal - a friend of Cranky Pants (a crazy story - we met while we were both leading seperate canoeing trips on the St. Croix river and then here he is hanging out in Errol, a most pleasant reunion- small world, eh?)
The Androscoggin normally runs at around 1400 CFS (Cubic Feet/Second) - today it is running around 8743 CFS! Saw some large water and paddled through class 2+ whitewater. Big water in a wood canvas canoe!

Tomorrow we paddle across Umbagog and back into Maine!

Weather: overcast and fair-ish in the am, rain pm

Wildlife: big chop on the Andro!

"Do nothing. Time is too precious to waste." ~ Buddha

Day 31


Onwards and upwards on the Ammanoosuc! Spent a good part of the day poling up river - a perfect stretch as the river is relatively calm, a few feet deep (deeper in spots), and a nice sandy/gravel bottom. Nothing beats moving against current with a setting pole!

Portaged around a short series of rapids near the covered bridge in the morning and then again later around some blow downs that blocked the river - other than that, today was a relatively relaxed day.

Ran into some thunderstorms just outside of West Milan so we hunkered down on the river bank to wait it out. Since the forecast was for more of the same, we decided to play it safe and take out there (about a mile down river from town) and portage in to a general store.

Heard from locals that the water on the Androscoggin is really up due to all the rain - since we are also headed upstream on the Andro, we figured we would probably end up portaging most of it as it would be impossible for us to fight the current when the water was moving so deep and fast. Our alternate plan is to catch a shuttle to Errol, NH and paddle back downriver to the Pontook Dam and then shuttle back up to Errol. This at least allows us to paddle most of the river and to travel on it safely.

Arranged a shuttle (from Nancy and Mike at the Stark Inn B&B) to Errol and set up camp at Northern Waters Outfitters right next to the bridge - they give free camping to NFCT paddlers and they also seranaded us with some good guitar, mandolin, and plastic jug music. It was a rockin sort of evening!

Weather: cloudy, t-storms, hard rain

Wildlife: bull moose, loon, beaver

"Swift or smooth, broad as the Hudson or narrow enough to scrape your gunwales, every river is a world of its own, unique in pattern and personality. Each mile on a river will take you further from home than a hundred miles on a road." ~ Bob Marshall

Day 30


Began the day in Groveton, NH at the diner. Yum. We found a place to stay last night courtesy of the Caron family - the very same folks who own the laundry mat in town. They kindly let us throw our tent down behind the laundry mat in a fenced in area - they even let us use their shower!

Put in at a local spot known as the Birches upriver from Red Dam on the North Side Rd via a shuttle from the Caron crew (seriously, track them down if you are on the NFCT on your way through Groveton!) Began paddling upstream on the Ammanoosuc - water is about 6 to 12 inches deep and moving fast. Lots of rocks and shallows. We made it about a half mile before we got out and began lining the boat up the river (basically walking next to it in the water.)

After about another mile of that routine we came back to the North Side Rd where we got out and began to road portage around. We thought that this would be a short term solution, but we ended up portaging all the way into Stark, NH (about 4-5 miles!) The river was consistently low and shallow all the way up to about a mile or so from Stark.

We enjoyed our road portage though - saw some excellent wildlife (watched a fox playing on the side of the road during our lunch break and saw a perigrine falcon) as well as found some tasty wild strawberries. The weather was fair and we made it to town around 230pm where we decided to stay at the Stark Inn - a great little B&B right on the river next to a beautiful covered bridge right on the river.

It is a funny thing to be running into so many towns and finding great places to stop along the way - this is such a different experience from many of our previous adventures backpacking and paddling! We are going to enjoy it while the getting is good! Hey, we're on vacation...

Weather: fair, rain in the evening

Wildlife: vulpes vulpes, perigrine falcon, crawfish, hairy woodpecker, horses, stray dogs

"If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water." ~ Loren Eiseley

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Day 29


A three river day today! Woke up on the Nulhegan and put in - promptly crossed over onto the Connecticut river. Big water - it is definitely up from all the rain and it is moving fast! At one point we figured we were going about 7 miles an hour, a new speed record for us!

What a change to be going down stream on such a large and paddler friendly river! Even coasting along we made great time - as you can see, Bean was working hard today.

20 miles later (arround 1pm) and we arrived at the confluence of the Connecticut and Amanoosuc (I just took a wild guess on the spelling as my map is not in front of me...) River - and began another upstream adventure. Why do the easy miles go by so fast?

Portaged into Groveton, NH. Laundry, food, and figuring out where to go next...

Nulhegan - Connecticut - Amanoosuc - farewell Vermont!

Weather: partly cloudy, warm

Wildlife: heron, ospreys, geese

"Water is the driver of Nature." ~Leonardo da Vinci

Day 28


Awoke in Island Pond and had breakfast with the folks from a local community known as 12 Tribes. Good food, good company, good morning.

Saddled up the boat and prepared to head out. Strange having to re-figure out how to put everything together with one less bag in the way! We have definitely lightened the load. We put the cover on as it looked like rain and paddled across Island Pond.

Began our carry on the other side - HEART THE CART! The side trail that was supposed to be the portage was marked as closed and so we just hoofed it along the road. Managed the whole portage in about 1.5 hours - fast!

Put back in on the headwaters of the Nulhegan River. A fairly twisty-turny down river paddle followed through narrow brush and over beaver dams. Our 18 1/2 foot boat was in some tight quarters! Lots of sharp 90 and 180 degree turns. Fun.

Met up with our shuttle (Blake from Simon the Tanner shop in Island Pond - good folks who will help out a paddler in need - shuttles, place to stay - you name it!) and went around the last section that was marked as class 3 rapids and boulder fields. Yikes.

Set up camp at the Debonville Landing campsite. Nice site with a new NFCT kiosk and a general store just up the road. Heaven.

Weather: Light rain, thunder storms went around us, overcast

Wildlife: River otter, deer, cow moose, heron, beaver (slapped its tail at us - so loud) ducklings

"The marsh, to him who enters it in a receptive mood, holds, besides mosquitoes and stagnation, melody, the mystery of unknown waters, and the sweetness of Nature undisturbed by man." ~Charles William Beebe

Day 27


Island Pond day. Spent the first part of the day re-organizing gear, writing postcards, prepping food, and just getting ready to head out. As such, we are now down to the two packbaskets and the Duluth Pack - one less bag to carry on the portages!

The cart finally arrived in the late afternoon - luckily Mr. Goulet let us crash at his place an additional evening. This man is a true trail angel of the Northern Forest Canoe Trail! Check out the neat photo of Bean as we went through a drainage pipe under a road on our way into Island Pond.

Weather: overcast, showers

Wildlife: just us in town...

Collecting all

The rains of May

The swift Mogami River. ~Basho

Day 26


Began the day at the boat launch after a restless night of rain accompanied by the sound of traffic. 45 minutes of paddling and we were in the midst of an intermediate fen - a large bog that is pretty rare. Crossed paths with Jonathan and Paul who were being hosted by Bill Manning. We were invited inside and got some coffee and good conversation to warm us up. (in the photo from left: Jonathan, Paul, Bean, and Cranky Pants.)

We next began the tricky task of negotiating the river through this large wetland. A few false starts, but we eventually found our way through. Continued on upriver, over beaver dams and blow downs, slow going! The misquitos were out in force! Ran into some minor rapids that we lined and portaged around.

The Clyde grew narrow and convoluted the closer we got to Island Pond, VT. Poled our way into town and underneath the Clyde River Hotel (apparantly once so notorious it was known as the zoo...) where we met up again with Jonathan and Paul gorging themselves on town food. Danger.

Tried to track down the portage cart, but the shop where we sent it was closed and we couldn't get through on the phone. The saga continues... Luckily we ran into a dude named Albert Goulet who promptly set us up with a free place to stay where we could get showers and rest as we waited for the cart. Island Pond is an amazingly friendly place that is convenient to walk around. Can't ask for much more.

Weather: rain in the morning, humid, rain in the evening

Wildlife: mink, beaver, heron, MISQUITOS

"The river delights to lift us free, if only we dare to let go. Our true work is this voyage, this adventure." ~Richard Bach

Day 25


Woke on the bright and early and portaged into the outlet of Pensioner Pond. Bean got a chance to try out her stern skills. Impressive.

Across Pensioner we tackled the undulating Clyde. Lots of twists and turns - as the picture shows, we ran into a HUGE turtle...gorgeous paddling, just a bit wandering...

Made it to the East Charleston general store and picked up some cold drinks and snacks - day old cookies on sale! Peanut Butter! After which we paddled to the boat launch at 10 Mile Square Road where we called it a day. Sort of a sketchy place to camp, but there was nothing downriver except soggy cow pasture, and nothing but wetlands ahead. Not the best options...

Weather: Humid - mid-80's storms a brewin

Wildlife: 3 deer, cows, beaver, 2 loons, heron, damsel and dragonflies

"The reeds give

Way to theWind

and give

The wind away" ~ A.R. Ammons

Day 24


FRIDAY THE 13th!!! Pretty quiet on our end... Portage cart didn't make it in to Newport, we are having it forwarded to Island Pond, VT. One cool side note from waiting around Newport is that we ran into some fellow NFCT paddlers! Paul and Jonathan started a couple of days behind us and caught us at the campground this morning. We all got some breakfast at the local diner and talked shop. Awesome to meet fellow thru-paddlers.

Departed Newport around noonish via a shuttle from the Great Outdoors, the local outfitter. Made our way up to Lake Salem - bypassing some gnarly whitewater on the Clyde River. Nice paddling until almost East Charleston where it shallowed out and we ended up poling and lining a mile or so. Took out into someones backyard and portaged into Charleston Pond. Set up camp at a site near another portage around another dam. Should be a good morning tomorrow!

Weather: same, bit warmer

Wildlife: Bald eagle, 2 turtles, deer, elk (in cages...) Heron, fish, dragon and damsel flies, canadian goose with 4 big goslings
"The majestic river floated on, Out of the mist and hum of that low land, Into the frosty starlight." ~Matthew Arnold

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Day 23


In town waiting on the portage cart, re-suppying, and just hanging out. Newport is a very convenient and pedestrian friendly town. We will spend tonight back at the campground and then head out tomorrow morning to head upstream on the Clyde River. We do so enjoy a good upstream paddle.

Weather: fair - sunny and 70's

Wildlife: cars in town - they move quick!

"To stick your hands into the river is to feel the cords that bind the earth together in one piece."
~Barry Lopez

Day 22


Continued southward to Newport, VT. Bid adieu to Herman's cozy cottage and safe harbor. It was a most excellent sanctuary.

Memphramagog was calm - the surface like a mirror. Great paddling. As we got closer to town, the wind picked up - as it was a good following wind we set sail and breezed through the last few miles. A quick check in at US Customs and we suddenly found ourselves in town.

Hit the library to get our bearings and made some reservations at a local campground. Walked to the outfitters and swung by the post office to get our mail. Ate lunch. A whirlwind of activity takes place once you get back to town!

Made a phone call to the Eastern Mountain Sports in South Burlington - should have a new portage cart by tomorrow. This is most excellent as the next stretch of river has many portages! The good folks at EMS really went above and beyond to help us out! Hooray for exceptional customer service!

Paddled over to the campground and set up shop. We are the only tent in a sea of RV's. Sort of funny. Showers, laundry - we even saw a movie at the local cinema. Town livin' - it's a hard knock life...

Weather: fair - quick evening shower

Wildlife: River otter, 18 Turkey vultures riding thermals over camp, 2 loons, a duck with 7 babies

"At times on quiet waters one does not speak aloud but only in whispers, for then all noise is sacrilege." ~Sigurd F. Olson

We are actually about a week ahead of our schedule, oops.

Day 21


Rise and shine at Canoe and Co. - if you are paddling on the NFCT, swing in and stay. They offer a place to camp, shuttles, and guide services. Francois is super nice - they'll take good care of you - check them out: 1121 chemin Burnett Glen Sutton (QC) JOE 2KO phone: 450.538.4052.

Broke camp and made arrangements to shuttle over the Grand Portage to Memphramagog - since our portage cart died we decided it would be wise to get a lift over this 7 mile portage... and good thing too - it was another incredibly hot day!

Put back in at Perkins Landing on the lake and paddled South towards Newport, VT. We crossed back into the states at 245pm - shortly therafter a HUGE, SCARY storm rolled through. Luckily we had seen some kids playing in the water so we paddled like crazy and asked for sanctuary. The mom even ran down to help us get our boat up on land and we huddled under the porch while the heavens opened up! SEVERE weather. Lightning, thunder, torrential rain. It was biblical. Apparantly that area had recieved a potential tornado warning. We were not fortunate enough to witness the tornado part.

As chance would have it, the patriarch of the clan, Herman, had a little cottage that he rents out to folks and he offered it to us to stay the night for free. We were very grateful. Especially later that evening when another, even more severe storm tore through the area knocking down trees and power lines. Yikes. We were happy to be safe and warm!

Tomorrow we head to town.

Weather: wild and crazy

Wildlife: fish (the water is very clear), a mink, toy poodle, cormorants and ducks.

"Even at the very bottom of the river, I didn't think to myself, `is this a hearty joke or the merest accident'. I just thought, `it's wet'."
~ Eeyore

Day 20


Began the day once again in Richford, VT - the day was already hot at 5am, and we were glad that we got moving so early! Portaged through town to the put in upriver past a series of gnarly ledges. At least, we thought we had...

We spent the next 2 1/2 hours eddy hopping, lining, and paddling like the dickens trying to make head way up a shallow, bony stretch of river. The current was fast, and the ledges were covered with algae making poling impossible as you couldn't manage a good set. Lining was not an option as the edge of the river was hemmed in by fallen down trees - strainers are sort of scary, eh?

Finally we decided to take out and try our luck on the road to get around this shallow stretch of water. And there we sat. For 3 hours...

Until Randy rolled up with his sweet station wagon of joy. Thanks be to the canoe gods! Just by chance he happened to live just up the road where we were going so we loaded everything into/onto his car and made our way up and around the bony stretch.

Bid Randy farewell and checked in with US Customs as we prepared to cross into Canada. After the US side we walked across to Canada and checked in with them. After they were satisfied that we weren't smuggling cocaine or people, they sent us on our way.

We officially paddled into Canada at 2pm on the nose - just as soon as we did, the river instantly turned smooth and deep - what a change! This stretch of the Missisquoi is easily the most beautiful portion we have seen - just in time too as our arms were rather tired!

An easy few miles to Glen Sutton and we made our way to Canoe and Co. - a local outfitter. Francoise, the owner, let us crash on his lawn for the night. How sweet it is!

Weather: T-storms early, rainy hot and humid - ugh.

Wildlife: crawfish and Canadians

"If there's a place, Canoe there." ~ Brent Kelly

Day 19


Woke up in Davis Park meaning to hit the water - but we were both dead tired (I guess 16 miles in 90 degree temps upriver can really take it out of you...) and the temps were already on the rise, so we decided to call it good and stay in Richford another day.

Rest and re-hydration.

Weather: Sunny, HOT (90's), Thunderstorms as we turned in

Wildlife: Desert tortoise (random encounter on the street, someones pet...), turkey vultures sunning themselves on the bridge

"Thus the Birch Canoe was builded

In the valley, by the river,

In the bosom of the forest;

And the forest’s life was in it,

All its mystery and its magic,

All the lightness of the birch-tree,

All the toughness of the cedar,

All the larch’s supple sinews;

And it floated on the river

Like a yellow leaf in Autumn,

Like a yellow water-lily." ~Longfellow

Day 18


WHOA! Our first 16-miler in a good while. Somehow we managed to crank out some good mileage upstream and have made it to Davis Park in Richford, VT. We had originally set aside 2 to 3 days to get here and we did it in 1.

What a day it was. Woke up at 5am and hit the water before the dairy festivities/craziness began in Enosburg Falls. The first stretch of water to Samsonville was almost like paddling flat water - slow current and we made great time. Short portage around some dam remains (there is a dirt farm road on river right just before the dam for you northbounders - easy as pie.)

The water levels are begining to shallow out - did quite a bit of poling and lining today. In and out of the boat, soggy pants. Took out just upstream from the Magoon Ledges and a nice local dairy farmer gave us a lift the last bit into the park. Our first hitchhike on the NFCT!

Weather: Rain before we woke up, partly cloudy, HOT, T-storms likely soon

Wildlife: Short tailed weasel, heron, osprey, crawfish, drunken kayakers, turkey vultures, and those crazy hill swallows again.

"Everyone must believe in something. I believe I'll go canoeing." Henry David Thoreau

Friday, June 6, 2008

Day 17


Happy Birthday Shannon - oh great and fabulous sister of Cranky Pants!

We are in town to re-supply, repair, and rest. Just in time for Enosburg Falls Dairy Festival! We hear this place gets hoppin' with all the festivities - fried dough and the tilt-a-whirl...awesomeness.

This is a great little town as everything is close at hand and very pedestrian friendly. The local library is excellent and the staff are incredibly helpful! We will be packing up and leaving on the bright and early tomorrow morning.
We made the news! Check out the article:


By popular demand - you can send post to us at:

Eileen McCue and William Hafford

General Delivery

Newport, VT 05855

-it would be good to send it so that it arrives by 18June - but don't stress too much as we will be leaving forwarding information with the post office.

"A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions."

~Oliver Wendell Holmes

Day 16


Woke up dreaming of sunshine and got our wish just after we began our morning portage. Glorious! The rail trail snakes its way alongside the river through some amazing Vermont scenery - green fields, farms, pastures - a very pleasant and scenic route.

Unfortunately, our little portage cart hit a bit of a rough spot today - due to low air pressure the wheels came off the frames. We like to think that it was due to our excessive portage speeds...continued on to the put in like a regular carry. We shall add the cart to our list of "to-do's" in town.

The current on this upper section is moving along much more swiftly from the North Sheldon Bridge to Enosburg Falls. It was some hard paddling in spots - especially around the bends where the river narrows and picks up its pace. We managed the seven miles to town and took out below the dam (sure are a lot of those around these days...) and portaged through town to the other side.

We set up camp right at the put in on private property at a place known as Lawyers Landing. Met Kim, the owner, who hooked us up with showers, cold drinks, and water - what generous hospitality! Tomorrow shall be a day of re-supply, repair, and rest.

Weather: sunny! 70's - although we heard a rumor that there are some high temps and thunderstorms on the way over the next few days...

Wildlife: more beaver, swallows (they flew out right over us from little nests in the side of the river banks!)

The Quitter ~ by Robert Service

When you're lost in the Wild, and you're scared as a child,

And Death looks you bang in the eye,

And you're sore as a boil, it’s according to Hoyle

To cock your revolver and . . . die.

But the Code of a Man says: "Fight all you can,"

And self-dissolution is barred.

In hunger and woe, oh, it’s easy to blow . . .

It’s the hell-served-for-breakfast that’s hard.
"You're sick of the game!" Well, now that’s a shame.

You're young and you're brave and you're bright.

"You've had a raw deal!" I know — but don't squeal,

Buck up, do your damnedest, and fight.

It’s the plugging away that will win you the day,

So don't be a piker, old pard!

Just draw on your grit, it’s so easy to quit.

It’s the keeping-your chin-up that’s hard.
It’s easy to cry that you're beaten — and die;

It’s easy to crawfish and crawl;

But to fight and to fight when hope’s out of sight —

Why that’s the best game of them all!

And though you come out of each gruelling bout,

All broken and battered and scarred,

Just have one more try — it’s dead easy to die,

It’s the keeping-on-living that’s hard.

Day 15


We are at camp along the Missisquoi river near/on the Abbey Rapids - after just having a scrumptious meal at The Abbey Restaurant - the day didn't begin as nice as it ended!

An easy, but long, portage began our morning after a night of hard rain (all of the gear is now speckled with sand - gritty stuff that sand.) It will be good to see the sun again! We followed along that ATV trail and put in down an embankment past the ledges.

A short paddle followed which led us to our 2nd portage of the day around the hydro dam at Sheldon Springs. The first 1/2 mile was a steep uphill battle - and then we had an epiphany (cue dramatic music.) Well, actually, Bean had an epiphany...we rigged up a harness out of some webbing, a locking carabiner, and some rope - this whole apparatus attaches to the handle on the bow and goes over the shoulders of one of us. Basically, one person ends up being a beast of burden while the other hauls from the bow or pushes from the stern - the whole get up is super effective, although the commands are taking a bit. GEE - HAW! No, the other haw!

At the put in we ate our lunch and got back on the water. A fast three miles later we took out on river left up a steep hill onto the Missisquoi Valley Rail Trail to negotiate our way around the Abbey Rapids - this was portage number 3 for the day.

Fortunately, the rail trail was smooth gravel and made for an easy portage on the cart - giving us a second chance to work with the harness. We were cruising along at about 2mph - not bad at all for a portage!

About a 1/4 mile from the North Sheldon bridge, we came across the Abbey Restaurant. Good food, nice folks - they even let us crash in their backyard at a little picnic area on the water beneath two huge oaks. Beautiful.

Weather: RAIN

Wildlife: beaver, dead hawk on the rail trail - random, ducklings, a salamander, and osprey.

"If I had influence with the good fairy who is supposed to preside over the christening of children, I should ask that her gift to each child in the world be a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life, as an unfailing antidote against the boredom and disenchantments of later years, the sterile preoccupation with things that are artificial, the alienation from the sources of our strength."

~Rachel Carson

Day 14


Two weeks of paddling on the Northern Forest Canoe Trail!

Started the morning off right with a tasty uphill portage around Highgate Falls Dam...mmm...Easy upstream paddling to East Highgate - where the fun began.

Along this stretch are a series of ledges that the water drops down over - basically unnavigable by us moving up river (a combo of rocks/shallows, and swift water) This left us to portage along Rte. 78 - which has no raising!

From Rte. 78 we found a small dirt road that led to a forested path down to the ledges and water below. So we muscled the gear down the slope and loaded up. Then we paddled about 300 feet, unloaded the boat and portaged through the brush around the last set of ledges at the bend. In the rain. We actually kind of had fun - stranger things have happened...This all sounds pretty simple, but the whole adventure took us about 2.5 hours!

Continued around the East Highgate Oxbow - a lazy, meandering bend in the river - it was great to actually be paddling the boat again after all that portage action. After the bend we ran into another series of ledges - took out river left to scout it. It was too bony to pole and the lining looked iffy. However, we discovered a great little campsite tucked under some large maple trees - so we took out and called it a day.

After a little investigating, we discovered an ATV trail that runs right along the river, out and around the ledges to deeper water - looks like we will start the day tomorrow with another portage!

Weather: rain - 60's

Wildlife: BIG beaver (he slapped his tail at us a bunch of times!), during the whole Rte. 78 debacle we discovered some wild asparagus and garlic - sauteed them up with our rice for dinner - YUM.

"The rain I am in is not like the rain of the cities. It fills the woods with an immense and confused sound. It covers the flat roof of the cabin and its porch with insistent and controlled rhythms. And I listen, because it reminds me again and again that the whole world runs by rhythms I have not yet learned to recognize, rhythms that are not those of the engineer.

I came up here last night. The rain surrounded the cabin with its virginal myth, a whole world of meaning, of secrecy, of rumor. Think of it: judging nobody, drenching the thick mulch of dead leaves, soaking the trees, filling the gullies and crannies of the woods with water, washing out the places where men have stripped the hillside! What a thing it is to sit absolutely alone in the forest, at night, cherishing this wonderful, unintelligible, perfectly innocent speech, the most comforting speech in the world, the talk that rain makes by itself all over the ridges, and the talk of the watercourses everywhere in the hollows!

Nobody started it, nobody is going to stop it. It will talk as long as it wants, this rain. As long as it talks I am going to listen." ~Thomas Merton

Day 13


Took down our stealth camp at the DOT base at Louie's Landing and got paddling early. We continued the quest upriver - taking out at Marble Mill Park and portaging around a dam in Swanton, VT.

Stopped by the post office and had our package forwarded on to the next town - our slack boxing is working well and is a great way to keep odds and ends (bulk foods, supplies, etc.) at hand without having to carry them in the boat. After the post office we feasted at a local diner - excellent breakfast and a great way to fuel up for a paddle!

Continued upstream - it really starts to look rural after you cross under I-89. Cows, corn and farms. Made camp at Highgate Falls - amazing dam and waterfall!

Weather: Cloudy then clear - 60's-70's (heat wave!)

Wildlife: Osprey fishing the river in front of us - amazing, beaver (both dead and live...), coy fish, butterflies, and cows.

"Listen to the mustn'ts, child,

listen to the dont's

listen to the shouldn'ts,

the impossibles, the won'ts

listen to the never haves

then listen close to me -

anything can happen, child,

ANYTHING can be."

~Shel Silverstein

Day 12


Left North Hero and Win and Jane at Aqua Vista and paddled along the eastern side of the island to Stevens Point. From here we turned towards Hog Island and mainland Vermont as we paddled towards Missisquoi Bay. The wind and waves really picked up as we made the crossing - the spray cover on the boat did an excellent job keeping the water on the outside! We fought across choppy 2-3 ft waves in a strong cross wind - it made 1 hour feel like 5 - sore arms!

We joined the Missisquoi River via the West Branch and began to paddle upstream towards Canada. The current is relatively sluggish as this end of the river drains into Champlain via a large wetland area - there is a heron rookery here and we saw a few million of them hanging about. The river is murky and deep - lots of things swimming up to the surface - not quite sure what they were, but this area is renowned for bass, trout, and just about everything else. Could have been the kraken for all we know...or perhaps "Champ" - Champlains version of the Loch Ness...

Made camp on the sly at a DOT maintenance shed on the side of the river - weird.

Weather: warm-ish, low 60's, overcast and partly cloudy - on the edge of raining all day.

Wildlife: canada geese, tons o' herons, beaver, fish, a rotweiler (that promptly peed on Cranky Pants - now he truly has Cranky Pants...), and birds - too many and varied to list!

"Something we were withholding made us weak

until we found out that it was ourselves

we were withholding from our land of living

and forthwith found salvation in surrender."

~Robert Frost

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Day 11


The end of May. Wow. And here we are in Vermont. Spent today writing letters and postcards - waiting for the storm to pass. Water is calming, but the thunder and lightning continues to crash down and the rain is torrential. Theoretically this will blow by in the morning and we will paddle northward once more.
Here is a photo of the little cabin we are crashing at - this is at Aqua Vista here on North Hero. These folks are very accomodating and incredibly generous - once again, we meet amazing people...
Cranky Pants is on the deck contemplating the infinite nature of the abyss. Deep thoughts.
Weather: STORMY
Wildlife: just a bunch of partying folks down at the local inn rocking out at a wedding...
"I must go down to the seas again, to the
lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer
her by;
And the wheel's kick and the wind's song
and the white sails shaking,
And a gray mist on the sea's face, and a gray
dawn breaking.
I must go down to the seas again, for the
call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be
And all I ask is a windy day with the white
clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume,
and the seaguls crying.
I must go down to the seas again, to the
vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull's way and the whale's way where
the wind's like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick's over." ~John Masefield

Day 10


Greeted the day at Peter's camp on Union Falls Pond and made a big breakfast. Repacked our gear for the journey to P-burgh. Loaded the truck down with the canoe and put all our gear in the back.
Took this photo at the dam - Peter is the one in the scarf and hat (he is a sort of local do-it-all kind of guy, chat him up about lodging or shuttles, or just about anything else...) with the Scepter of awesomeness - Dennis is in the green shirt on the left. Bean is in the middle and Cranky is in the back.
Made it out to a marina in Plattsburgh and bid Dennis and Peter a fond farewell - as Champlain was incredibly calm, we decided to put out on the water ASAP. We began paddling at 1pm and made it to North Hero around 530pm (14.5 miles or so) - just as rain storms began to roll in. Since it was in the forecast for the storms to increase (wind and thunder storms) we decided it would be a good idea to lay up for a day in North Hero where we have access to a post office, a cafe, library, and food.
Weather: Sunny to start, gathering clouds, slight headwind, Storms a brewin'...
Wildlife: FISH - Champlain is so clear you can see right to the bottom along the shore, amazing! Blue herons, King Fisher, Cormorants, Gulls and lots of geese.
"What is life: It is the flash of a firefly in the night. It is the breath of a buffalo in the winter time; it is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset." ~ Crowfoot

Day 9


Cold and shady morning at Franklin Falls Pond = slow to get moving...but eventually, we did hit the water - hey, we're on vacation! High winds were a blowin' in towards where we wanted to go. Sailed basically from camp all the way to a portage around the dam.

Short portage to the Saranac River and then a short paddle out into Union Falls Pond - which is basically a dam-flooded river. Lots of tree stumps poking up out of the water like snaggly teeth waiting to chew on our boat - tricky maneuvering!

After a bit we made it out into the middle of the pond where the wind was really whipping (and there were no tree stumps!) raised the tarp and sailed on. The wind was so strong we had to drop the sail from time to time in order to avoid hauling over onto our side and swamping! It was about all we could do to hold on! It was a lot of fun!

Thus we found ourselves at Union Falls Dam and looking hard at the map. We had heard from the friendly folks at St. Regis Canoe Outfitters ( - if paddling the NFCT, go here for info, supplies, and help, they are excellent!) that the water below Union Falls Dam was low - on top of that, we also noticed that the next stretch was very technical (ranging up to Class V whitewater) and in a wood/canvas canoe loaded down with gear we felt it prudent to search out a shuttle.
So we made our way over to a local campground and tried to phone people in Plattsburgh, NY. This search proved to be futile as no one was interested in driving out to Union Falls, picking us up, and then driving back to Plattsburgh. Eventually, we ended up meeting some amazing local folks - Peter and Dennis.
Peter hooked us up with a place to stay at his cabin down on the waterfront as well as offering to take us into P-burgh in the morning. And so it was that we found ourselves crashing in this cozy cabin right on Union Falls Pond with a ride arranged for the morning! Peter even took us around the dam and gave us a personal tour of the whole facility - wow...Always depend on the kindness of strangers!
Weather: Sun and profuse ammounts of wind...
Wildlife: Half submerged tree stumps...
"Remember this advice: It's easy to keep your head above water. Empty things float." ~Tillie Olsen

Day 8


Spent the morning getting our gear together and loading up in Saranac Lake. Said farewell to Fogarty's (it will be missed) and hauled the boat on the portage cart right through downtown to the put in on the water. Had to stop at traffice lights and everything - funny.

Paddled out of town along the Saranac - the river actually goes right through the downtown - under bridges and along buildings. It felt like traveling in a canal. We were well rested and made excellent time to the portage at Permanent Rapids (10.6 miles away.)

A sketchy portage along River Rd. (cars and trucks did not slow down - plus lots of blind corners and hills...yikes!) Put in at a nice campsite on the other end and paddled out to Franklin Falls Pond. Good breeze kept the blackflies down and there were so many peepers their chorus was deafening!

Excellent view of the sunset - 12.6 miles total for today. Not too bad considering we started after noon and had a long portage right in the middle!

Weather: Sunny and clear - cooling down temp-wise

Wildlife: 2 deer, beaver, a HUGE snapping turtle right out of pre-history!, black duck on the nest, heron, hummingbirds, and a river otter.

"Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world's great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs. I am haunted by waters." ~Norman Maclean

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Day 7


Saranac day - good food, resupply, and rest.

If you get the chance, swing in and stay with Jack and Emily at Fogarty's Bed and Breakfast ( They are warm and friendly types who know how to take care of folks. You can't beat their hospitality and they make a mean breakfast!
We hit the trail again tomorrow - most likely be a little while before we find some time to post. Maybe in Platsburgh? Stay tuned for more.

Weather: cloudy and rainy - increasingly colder as the day goes on.

Wildlife: canadian geese with young ones
"When I was young, I admired clever people. Now that I am old, I admire kind people." ~Abraham Joshua Heschel

Day 6


Happy Memorial Day! At the end of today we have traveled 90 miles so far!

Left Upper Saranac Lake and had a short paddle to Bartlett Carry. A short carry, but the start is directly uphill for the first half - in addition to this fun fact, it was horrifically buggy. Luckily we had a couple of baseball bats with us - after about 10 minutes of beat down on the blackflies and misquitos, we were ready to continue.

Put in on Middle Saranac Lake and paddle across to the Saranac River. Not only is this a beautiful waterway, but it has a series of locks on it - sort of like a mini Panama Canal. We paddled into them, water was released, lowering us down to the height of the water on the other side, then we paddled out and continued on our merry way. Very slick.

This brought us out to the Lower Saranac Lake where we sailed up to a boat put in and talked with folks at the Campground Headquarters. They foretold of rain and cold. Good times.

Bean and I decided to try to bust on through to the town of Saranac, NY to get a jump on our rest day and re-supply. Paddled out through Osseetah Lake where we got caught in a heavy rain - it sounded really neat on the water though. We made great time and managed to make it into Saranac by 3pm. Rolled up to a marina where the guy directed us to a local Bed and Breakfast - who just happened to have excellent rates, plus we get food in the morning. Bonus.

A bit of a culture shock paddling up into a town, but we are looking forward to resting our bodies and re-provisioning. Another 20 mile day - we are ready to take it easy a bit.

Weather: Sunny and warm, PM showers

Wildlife: 2 bald eagles, 3 loons, great blue heron (flew right over us!)

"No servant brought them meals; they got their meat out of the river, or went without. No traffic cop whistled them off the hidden rock in the next rapids. No friendly roof kept them dry when they misguessed whether or not to pitch the tent. No guide showed them which camping spots offered a nightlong breeze, and which a nightlong misery of misquitos; which firewood made clean coals; and which only smoke...The elemental simpicities of wilderness travel were thrills not only because of their novelty, but because they represented complete freedom to make mistakes. The wilderness gave them their first taste of those rewards and penalties for wise and foolish acts which every woods-person faces daily, but against which civilization has built a thousand buffers. These folks were on their own in this particular sense." ~ Aldo Leopold

Day 5


Packed up and left Kelly's Point and paddled up the rest of Long Lake. What a change from yesterday - dead calm during the paddle this morning. Rejoined the Raquette River at the Northern end and paddled to a portage at some falls. We made excellent time as we were both paddling and being born on by the current - it seemed so fast!

1 mile portage around a series of 3 falls put us down at the other end where we got some local info about weather and the trail ahead from a Ranger stationed there. The portage was absolutely mobbed with people - still in the crush of Memorial Day trippers. It is strange to see so many folks...and all trying to use the same narrow portage trail! We were happy to set out again.

More easy paddling downstream brought us to the junction with Stony Creek - here we traveled upstream along a narrow, shallow waterway. Got to use the setting pole that we made (about 11 feet long and made from spruce) to push ourselves up against the current. It worked exceedingly well and saves the arms a bit of paddling. Plus, standing up in the stern allowed me a better view of what was coming around the bend.

After working our way over a mucky beaver dam, we paddled out into Stony Creek Ponds. At the end of which lay Indian Carry - about a mile, 1/2 carry, 1/2 cart. This brought us to the Upper Saranac Lake where we paddled out to the closest camp site and promptly passed out.

All told, we did about 20 miles today - LAKE - RIVER - CREEK - POND - LAKE - what a day!

Weather: sunshine and warmth - hooray!

Wildlife: Red salamander, fish (Bean was very excited about them...), 3 loons, mergansers, red-winged blackbirds, grackles, geese with little fluffy geese

"Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing - absolutely nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing around in boats (said the water rat solemnly). Simply messing, he went on dreamily: messing-about-in boats; messing...about in boats-or with boats...In or out of 'em, it doesn't matter. Nothing seems to really matter, that's the charm of it. Whether you get away, or whether you don't; whether you arrive at your destination or whether you reach somehwere else, or whether you never get anywhere at all, you're always busy, and you never do anything in particular; and when you've done it there's always something else to do..." ~ Kenneth Grahame