The writing was on the wall, etched in stone as of last May. The only thing that wasn't was the players. Seems like every year to every other year we hit Lake Umbagog, the border of NH and Maine, for a few days of paddling and the paddlers vary so it always is a great and interesting crew. With three rivers either entering it or exiting it there is a lot to play around with. The wildlife is usually abundant as well.
The players this year turned out to be me, Aaron (both in Malecites), Jim (MR Explorer), Scott (Mariner), Andy (Milennium), and Ken (Catalina). Aaron, Jim and I hooked up on Wed afternoon and headed up after loading up the truck with more gear than most would carry but this is truly a Gentleman's Trip. I guess a definition of a Gentlemen's Trip should be explained, if it truly can be. It is a trip that involves canoeing, camping in remote areas (at least for us Northerner's), good food, many beverages and some paddling into whatever the weather brings us. Most days we are smiling!
|Aaron jockey canoes into place for tiedown|
|Boats in place|
|Some of the gear|
|Of course the true essentials!!|
We got a good fire going thanks to the best fire starters ever, roadside flares! The wood was damp but it soon was burning good and hot.
After a long day it was off to tents. We wanted an early start to help beat any winds that can kick up. I have no clue what time it was but I awoke to a sniffing and crunching sound and then chewing! All I could think of was what the hell the boys were up to? What the F!! More of the same sounds and now I'm getting pissed off! I find a light and shine it out of my tent. HOLY SHIT! SKUNK!!! The damn thing was halfway under my vestibule and had got the zipper open on my Duluth pack and let me tell you unless you own one, that is ONE BIG ZIPPER and hard to pull and was eating my cookies! I mean it is probably a foot and a half away from my face! Not sure who was more startled or scared but all I could wait for was the stench that was sure to come. It backed out with the light in it's eyes and I started saying quite loud, "A Fucking SKUNK!" repeatedly! I backed off and I unzipped just a small opening in the rain fly and kept the light on it. It went to the bag of garbage and rummaged round the beer cans and then did a beeline to the picnic table. I pulled my pack into the tent and zipped everything up and hoped for the best. Soon there was more sniffing right by my tent but a shine of the light and more swearing seemed to send the bugger else where for late night snacks.
Yeah, yeah, I know, don't store any food near or in your tent! Lesson learned and I came out smelling better than skunk spray, pure luck!
Thursday morning I was telling the boys about this and Aaron said he heard me but thought I was muttering about another skunk smell but that is another story. During the night Andy had driven in from NJ, a 7+ hour trip but this is his third tour of duty on this lake. I think sometimes that he loves this place more than the rest of us!
|Andy sure do like this place!|
We headed out and soon put in on the Androscroggin River. From there it was across the lake to Pine Point and then up to the mouth of Sunday Cove where we would base camp for two nights. It was unbelievable, not a breath of wind and it was like paddling on a piece of glass. Christ, I had to kneel a few times thinking I was going nowhere and maybe, just maybe there was a chance of falling in. The clouds reflections on the lake made it more funky.
Now, in the meantime Scott and Ken had come up before us and had putin on the river and camped at a site at the mouth of the river. They were well ahead of us. It wasn't long before we had tents up, firewood collected and beverages going just enjoying being at this place.
|Our fireplace for the next two days, not to bad|
|The Ultimate Fire Starter|
|Jim bringing in wood from the edge of the cove|
|A typical fire for us boys|
Friday morning we woke up to the lake we know, heavy fog with a rising sun trying to burn it off. It took a while and the day had its moments of bright sunshine mixed with cloud cover but it was warm out for this time of year and again the water was like glass. We headed out to the Rapid River for an explore up that. I had never been but most had. Now, I mentioned that Sunday Cove is a beautiful site to camp on but you need to paddle out of it before you make the lake to head out for the day. I was good for a long spell but as we hit the Rapid and the current from it I began to hurt some, my ol' back is still on the heal and was acting up. I tried like hell to make it up the river to the first rapid but had to turn back knowing I had a way to go. The rest did make it though so it was well worth the effort.
|Heading out of the Cove to the Rapid River|
|Aaron entering the Rapid River|
|Ken and Aaron cutting in to the Rapid|
|A Muckle Up|
Saturday morning and a hefty meal and we all packed up for the move down lake to Moll's Rock. Once again the lake was glass. Scott and Andy took the more direct route going straight down the lake while us canoeist and Ken in his yak cut across Sturgevnet Cove to the what we call the Meadowlands, just a marshy area that is created by the Magolloway River. I decided to cut in between the yakkers and the lilydippers and cut straight down the lake to the next site. I still did more miles then the yakkers but less then the others.
|Cutting down the middle of the glass lake|
|Moll's Rock Campsite take out|
|Looking out over Moll's Rock onto the lake|
|Paddling off of the lake into the Andro|
So, in the end we had a low mileage trip but that is not the intent nor the concern of this trip. It is just getting out to a beautiful place, pray that the weather and the lake gods treat you good and enjoy the hell out of the company and embrace the paddling. Next year means new campsites and different places to explore. Some places just keep drawing you back despite the fact that it is the same ol' place but each visit brings new views, new friendships, and new experiences.