Below is an account of day 2 of 8 days paddling the Allagash Wilderness Waterway in Maine in August 2015. Check back each week for the next 6 weeks to read the next days of the adventure!
Little Allagash Falls to Farm Island, Eagle Lake:
5:00 AM came too quickly despite the fact that I awoke 20 minutes before the alarm knowing it was time to break down camp and move on. I sat up and began to pack and organize, stopping briefly to enjoy a quick cup of cowboy coffee and an “Allagash Bar”–a cooked dried fruit mixture held together by an oat and wheat dough. We all consumed our quick breakfasts next to a burning stick of cedar incense, which reduced the cloud of no-see-ums somewhat. With the campsite empty, boats loaded, a few photos taken, and a few flies cast, we were off by 7:30–later than our 6:00 AM goal, but remembering those systems takes time.
This group of red speckled adventurers (from the no-see-ums) paddled through the mist lingering on Allagash Stream at a quick clip, knowing that at least two stretches of rapids awaited us. After our stressful experience in the unexpected (and unlabeled) rapids the day before, the fact that these rapids were actually labeled on the map made tensions run high. At least one adventurer did not sleep well the night before due to the anticipation.
Our pace quickened regardless of the speed of our paddling and the river grew louder. My partner and I in our aluminum canoe scraped and stopped, bumped and turned, lined the canoe, walked and scooted several sections before finally coming to smoother water. A sense of bliss came over the group as the view opened up to reveal the northern part of Chamberlain Lake, the old trestle in the distance, and sun warming the air to its full potential.
We paddled onward, eyes ever focused on our point of reference to take us to our portage spot at Lock Dam while simultaneously tracking the ominous thunderheads to the north and east. We made it to Lock Dam by 10:30, did an efficient portage, and continued on into Eagle Lake after a few bumps and scrapes in the narrow shallows after the dam.
A brown lump above the highest alders–six feet above the ground–spanned a piece of the shore impossibly quickly, leading me to identify the lump as a moose. This cow came to the shore for a drink, but kept her eyes on these three mysterious boats. Meanwhile, two other moose grazed on the distant shore to our right, a bald eagle flew overhead, and a loon howled in the distance. Kingfishers dived and chattered all around us and the always surprisingly meek call of the eagle chirped in the tall pines on the northern shore.
As we rounded the bend to head northward up the body of Eagle Lake, we anticipated a strong headwind–typical of stories of any Allagash visitor I have heard. Much to our surprise, we met glass-still water that we paddled through all the way to Farm Island, where we arrived by 1:30–a 13 mile day.
We set up quickly anticipating thunderstorms, but none came. Joe and I spent an hour fishing and writing along the southeast shore of the island, but no bites. No bugs at camp but for a few biting flies off shore when not paddling. We saw a few mice on the island, but they did not bother us either. The temperature stayed high and the air still as we all slept more soundly that night.
This was an account of Day 2 of an 8 day trip. See here for an account of Day 1.