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