Friday, September 11, 2015

Allagash Wilderness Waterway: 8/31/15 - 9/4/15, Day 4

Day 4 – Hosea B to campsite McKeen Brook

     A chattering red squirrel provided a wake-up call and we were up at 6:00, and repeated the same wonderful breakfast. On the river at 7:45.
     Just after breakfast I happened to look upstream and saw a moose crossing the river. She was a few hundred yards away, but still a wonderful sight. 


                                        Moose at Hosea B campsite
    
     Steady paddling for several hours ensued. We’ve now figured out our best canoe positions, that is, I figured out my canoe position, having performed somewhat poorly in the single-person boat and at the stern of the double. The bow it was for me. No doubt with more practice, and general acclimation to the confounding confusion of left vs right, paddle vs direction movements, I would have figured it out, say in a week or two. After all the 26-year-olds, male and female respectively, did brilliantly in those positions, considering they had never been river-canoeing before.


                                          Lunch at Michaud Farm 
   
      We saw three canoes up ahead, also 6 guys, and the Dance of the Six-Packs started in earnest. We stopped at the Michaud Farm ranger station for lunch and discovered on check-in that the pack ahead of us, which was leaving the station as we arrived, was from North Carolina and which, judging by the day of their first put-in, was very speedy. The pack behind us of course arrived at the station just as we were finishing lunch. One of the men, quite old, walked up to where we were sitting in the shade (it was a perfect day, by the way, just hot in the sun) and clearly wanted to tell their story. After the obligatory questions (where are you from, etc – they were from Rochester, NY), he said they had started out from Churchill Dam several days before, and in the difficult rapids just below the dam, crashed one of the canoes. It took hours to retrieve it in the fast water, and they had to go back for repairs (lots of duct tape), and were a day late on their schedule, thus accounting, perhaps, for their co-habitation at Croque Brook. They may have been too tired to get to the next site 6 miles away. We generated some sympathy.
     After lunch, we paddled an hour to Allagash Falls through a beautiful stretch of what we guessed were silver maples. The sound of their leaves in the breeze rivaled the sound of the stream. The falls are not passable and the portage was a third of a mile. We each made three round-trips and I was beat. But the falls viewed from downstream were amazing: a forty-foot drop over several hundred yards resulting in a thick, twisting muscular braid of white water.


                                         Allagash Falls from land


                                       Allagash Falls from the water

     We thought we had a deal with the Rochester six-pack that they would stay at the first site past the falls and we would stay at the second, McKeen Brook. But of course, who showed up about an hour after we unloaded at McKeen Brook? We couldn’t believe they would be so rude as to kick us out twice. But E was brilliant. She went down to the water as they were discussing what to do (they said they missed the first site, and actually we didn’t see it either), and said the other cell at this site is really small and really close to ours, do you really want to stay here, all in the nicest possible way. It worked. They moved on; we rejoiced.


                                          McKeen Brook campsite
    
     As I said, I was beat from the portage, and E/M let me have a magnificent hour in the hammock when they cooked dinner (still and always guilt-free with hot dogs, beans, and carrots).



                                       Serving dinner at McKeen Brook 
   
          We stayed up very late night staring at the fire – 8:30 to bed!

          Distance: about 20 miles


          Wildlife: lots of eagles, geese flying north (!), plus beaver

          Next: day 5

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