Trip report: 6 days, 100 miles in Maine on the Allagash River
My brother and I decided we wanted to do a weeklong trip and we wanted it to be remote. We ended up choosing the Allagash River in Maine. It's around 11 hours to drive to Fort Kent Maine where we started the trip. We arrived in the evening, had dinner in a local restaurant across from the border crossing to Canada and had a good nightís sleep.
I'm going to include a link to my photo album, I couldnít pick out just a few picks to post. I also wanted to note that I left all EXIF data with GPS coordinates in the pictures. Some of the GPS readings may be incorrect depending on how long the camera was off but most are close if not spot on. I've also included pics showing the route taken and a link to a PDF map of the area that makes it easier to follow along.
Next morning we arrived at our Guides location which was 40 minutes from the hotel. We loaded our kayaks on the van and started another 3 1/2 hour drive on logging roads to our starting point at Chamberlain Lake. From Chamberlain Lake we paddled until we had a portage at Lock Dam to Eagle Lake. We stayed at Pillsbury Island campsite the first night completing 15 miles on the lakes our first day. I was using my new 11' Dangerbird and Hammockgear custom 40 degree quilt set with one of their Cuben 4 season tarps. Everything worked great and I have to say I'm very happy with the hammock, quilts and tarp. I'd like to thank Adam and Randy for working with me on these custom items. They made my trip warm, dry and comfortable.
On day two we set out to find the tramway/train location on Eagle Lake. At one point the tramway and trains were used to transport logs from one lake to another. Now there just sitting there in the woods. If you do this trip DO NOT paddle into the waterway like we did. The mud was past our knees and we had our water shoes sucked off a number of times before we got out. There is a trail on the left leading in if you beach on that side. From the tramway site we paddled across Eagle lake to Round pond into Churchill Lake. Day two was another 15+ mile day ending up at High Bank campsite. Another really nice site we passed was Scofield Point. We just weren't ready to stop for the day and High Bank is known for great views. We had our favorite meal of the trip which was Packit Gourmet's Texas state fair chili with onions and green peppers added in. All the Packit Gourmet and Hawk vittles meals were good but this was great!
On Day three we finished off Churchill Lake seeing another moose in the morning and Heron Lake to make it to Churchill Dam. Here we had our gear transported for $10 down below the class 2 rapids, had time to visit the Churchill depot history center and then headed out on what I think was a 4 mile stretch of rapids. Nothing scary but it was a ton of fun and enough to fill our yaks with water so we had to stop and empty them out. We had spray skirts but decided not to use them because it didn't look that bad. If you do this use a spray skirt, it will save time and keep you dryer :-) You can pick your gear up at Bissonnette Bridge, load back up and continue on the river. We completed Umsaskis Lake and moved on to Grey Brook campsite. I finally had time to take some pics of the Dangerbird under the 4 season tarp and with the quilts setup. Another long day ended with rain coming that night into the next morning.
Day four we continued on Long Lake in the rain and through Harvey pond with another portage at Long Lake falls. This one like the first was a matter of a few 100 feet and we didn't unload the yaks to get them around. It stopped raining by late morning but I did learn that my Packa was great for kayaking with it over the vest and venting in the wind as we paddled across the lake. We had slow moving river after the portage for a while until we got to round pond. At the big tree take the left branch. It's faster and was deep enough if you stay to the right. If you do this trip youíll know what I mean by the big tree when you get there We continued on until we reached Croque Brook campsite which is the only place I didn't use a hammock. No tree's unless I wanted to go back near the outhouse and setup on a game trail so I decided to try a tent after years of hammock only camping. The pain shooting up my spine after a couple hours on the G.G. pad that I brought just in case convinced me not to do this a second time. On the bright side around dusk I was headed to the picnic table and could feel something running through the woods behind our site. My brother thought I was pounding a log on the picnic table when I was really shifting back and forth behind it waiting to see which way to jump if the moose came out of the woods. Later we figured that if I had setup my hammock I would have been a flag on the moose as it ran through so I guess someone was looking out for me. Mental note: game trails in MA no big deal, in ME steer clear with tents and hammocks :-O
Day five I woke my brother up at first light to see the moose about 10 yards away walking up the stream in front of our tent. We then packed up and decided to get an early start to see what would be out on the river. On the van ride in I saw more wildlife than in 200 miles on the A.T. including a moose but this morning was going to be even better. Headed down the river by 6:30 or 7 we ran into another six moose before we stopped at the Michaud farm ranger station. Here we read a weather report which stated the river was at 520 CFM after the rain. Most of the trip the water was at 420 CFM. Day five we pushed hard and continued down the river until we reached our 1/3 mile portage at the falls. This time we emptied the yaks and moved everything around to continue down the river until we reached the Big Brook North campsite. After drying our gear out again and eating for around 3 hours we got a good nightís sleep with a little rain coming in during the night. By morning the sky had cleared at was another beautiful day.
Day six had a mix of slow moving river with some nice rapids mixed in. We only had a few hours before reaching the end of the Allagash waterway and our exit location which we reached shortly after 10 a.m. finishing the trip a day early and doing 100 miles in six days. From there we loaded up the car and started our 11+ hour ride home.
A few things I'd like to note. This was my first long trip in a kayak having only done a few weekend trips at Saranac Lake so I wasn't sure about what I'd need or should bring for a long river/lake trip like this. Have as little as possible strapped to the outside of your kayak. Winds would catch my pad and I'd start to veer to one side until I figured out what was going on and started to compensate. The Packa rain jacket worked out great covering everything and still letting me vent when we were doing 4+ MPH on the lakes. We had way too much food. For a hiking trip like this my food intake would have been way up by day three. This never seemed to happen and doing the high mileage days we didn't stop for lunch. We just paddled until we hit camp and then snacked for a few hours until it was time for supper. Next, you can't have too many dry bags. I had a half dozen but when everything was wet from rain I wished I had a few more to separate the wet and kind of wet from the dry. Also many small bags are easier to pack than a few large ones. This brings me to the kayak. The Tsunami 12 1/2 foot was just big enough and a great weekend size but if I was going to do more week long trips I'd go with my brotherís 14 1/2 foot model. His also floated higher and although heavier did better in the shallow waters by a small margin.
I'm not a very eloquent writer but I hope between the trip report and the photos you can get an idea of how awesome this trip was! I highly recommend it if you can get the time. It's a whole different ballgame when you don't see anyone for days and you hear NOTHING but nature. Not even a truck on a distant highway. I've got some ghost stories that will be better told at the next group hang instead of my trying to write them down but strange things sometimes happen out there...
Password is Allagash2012
R3l@X, just remembered something
you and i have the same kayak and the most i've lived out of mine is 3 days, you really packed smart to get that much food in there!