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Allagash 50th

Discussion in 'Places to Paddle' started by MGC, May 18, 2016.

  1. MGC

    MGC Scrapmaker

    It's the 50th anniversary of the has survived pretty well considering the continued pressure to "improve" the "wilderness".
    The outhouses and picnic tables weren't there during my trip in 1967 (except the table at Round Pond). No one talks about building a hydro anymore or flooding up to Allagash Falls but there are more and more one day visitors and pressure for more convenient access.
    I wonder what the 100th anniversary will celebrate?
    So, who will we bump into this summer? When are you going? Where will you start? Is Mud Pond in your future or will you take the easy route :)D) and put in at Telos. Are you going to start in Greenville or drop in at Rockwood while you finish up the NWCC....

    The 50th is not the reason for our trip, it's just time. My youngest son (now 31) and I have finally been able to plan it together.
    The food is packed, the tent and other gear are ready to go, the paddles are picked out and leaning on the wall in the garage, 3 geese were rendered into goose jerky yesterday...except for deciding on what bourbon to bring along, I think we are all set.
    How about you?? Do tell..........
  2. shelldrake

    shelldrake LOVES Wooden Canoes


    My first time was in 1973. Motored up Chamberlain and pulled boats up Allagash Stream to the Lake (much younger then!). I don't recall any picnic tables on that trip.

    Been back several times over the years, and my wife and I plan a trip to Eagle in early August this year. We are going to do a base camp trip using a 20' Old Town Guide I just finished.

    No pulling boats upstream on this trip. And I'll have a little kicker clamped to the side this time.

    Only decision left is Indian Stream or Churchill Dam entry. Will make that decision based on water levels.

    Hope you have a great trip.

  3. OP

    MGC Scrapmaker

    You might consider late July for the Churchill Dam celebration

    Or late August for the events in Allagash

    I did the trip from Greenville to Fort Kent in 72. The sites had not been "improved" then so your recollection of 73 makes sense to me.
    The water gets a bit low by August. Bugs are not as bad though.

    I won't take the 20 on this trip. I hate it on long carries although I have certainly done my share with it. There's just no need for that much boat with the small amount of gear we have. Actually I'm not quite sure why I still have it?
    Rollins 17 1/2 Traveler is the perfect choice for this trip assuming my son will let me borrow it from him. He may not since I scuffed it up and cracked a couple ribs in it due to some errant seamanship.
    Have fun!
  4. Kevin French

    Kevin French Paddler

    I'm a new arrival to the Allagash, but have tried to make up for it. We've paddled up there since 2007. I got to watch my grandson grown the river, he was 7 the first year we went. We're not going to paddle it this year but some of us will be going to either or both (me) of the celebrations. I made reservation for Aug at Pelletier's Campground back in March.
  5. OP

    MGC Scrapmaker

    My son and I returned from our relatively leisurely trip down the Penobscot and Allagash.
    Both rivers are running with plenty of water this year.
    We were able to get all the way to Mary (Wim) Haffords campground in Allagash without dragging anywhere. It was supposedly even better in the last week of May when Rollin went through.

    We did the easy route and skipped over Moosehead and put in a Lobster Stream. We had planned to put in at North East Carry but I decided I did not want to leave my truck there. I was afraid Jay (Jay Hafford shuttled it for me) might have a hard time getting to it. The last bit from the NMW road is a real mess.
    We spent one night on Ogden Point on Lobster Lake and then one night on Gero Island. Chesuncook was kicking pretty hard when we crossed but I have seen it worse. The paddle up to the Mud Pond Carry was very pleasant. The wind was from the South so we were not paddling into whitecaps on Umbazooksus. That was a first for me.
    The carry was bit drier than usual but the blow-downs have gotten worse than ever. Trees that were across the trail in 2011 are still there and even more are now in the way. Al Cowperthwaite tells me that NFC volunteers will take over maintenance on it this year. We can only hope that they will get in there and hammer out some of the problems. On the East side the beavers have started floating logs in the trail.
    The outlet from Mud pond had pretty good flow. We lined down it without any problems. Last time I went through there my son and I were moving rocks from the channel.
    We spent the night at the Mud Brook campsite and then paddled Chamberlain to the Tramway Carry the next day. Chamberlain was like glass, again, something I have never experienced. We paddled right down the middle and made it to the top of the lake in no time. The Carry is in really great shape this year. The work the rangers did in 2011 is holding up really well. It makes the carry suitable for the folks that want to use wheels.
    When we hit Eagle our luck ran out and we ended up getting soaked by a couple rain showers. We stopped on Farm Island for lunch and then continued to Pump Handle to camp.
    At Farm Island we met a fisherman that had just come off of the lake with a duffle bag he had found while he was out. It was a bag of food supplies from a couple guys that had dumped their canoe near Indian Stream a few days earlier. He had found them on a rock the next morning. They were frantically waving their arms trying to get his attention. He found their canoe, righted it and then towed them to Churchill Dam. Their gear had been tied in but the food bag was not. Their Allagash Trip lasted one hour.
    At Pump Handle we had visitors show up just before dusk. Two canoes and a kayak landed and unloaded the most gear I have ever seen. They had three tents, ice chests, 5 thirty packs canoe, an OT Guide XL was loaded nearly 4 feet above the gunnels and had about two inches of free board....with a motor. I wish I had the presence of mind to take a picture. The rangers at Churchill Dam were talking about it when we stopped in the next day. Amazing. The improved access has had a profound affect on the "wilderness" experience.
    From the Pump Handle we took it easy and made our way to the Jaws. Steady drizzle was with us most of the way and for the rest of our trip. The rangers told us the the combination of rain and cold had driven quite a few parties off the lakes and the river. Lot's of folks were complaining about the conditions but we stayed dry and found the fishing to be good, really good!
    We stayed on an extra day at the Jaws and watched the parade of dabblers, spinners, sailors, kayaks and occasional paddlers that made their way through. You can't help but be amazed that there are not more problems. There are a lot of people on the water that look like they are living on the edge of ending up in the drink. The outfitters that rent people the canoes and give them paddles that are four feet too long contribute the problem.

    The ranger partially opened the flow on the dam at about 7:00 and then opened it the rest of the way about 45 minutes later. We headed down at about 8:00 and were lucky enough to see several moose and deer in the first couple miles of Chase Rapids.
    We pushed through to the end of Long Lake in a pretty steady drizzle. I had planned to camp at the Long Lake Dam site, but when we got there it looked like a mosh pit, totally thrashed. We continued to Sweeney (sp?) Brook and found that to be more pleasant. The next morning we pushed off a bit early and headed towards Round Pond. Again, steady drizzle and cold kept us from getting too comfortable. The Ranger at Round Pond (Barb) told us that the folks that had spent the night were all pretty negative about the weather and complaining. She was surprised when we had nothing but positive things to say. It helps to have your expectations set before you commit to the river!
    We stopped at Turk Island for lunch. Barb had done such a great job on the site that we found ourselves thinking about spending the night there....but, we continued to 5 Fingers. The site there was not quite as nice but within easy striking distance of the falls. We were planning to spend the next day there poking around and fishing.
    The next days we made our way to Allagash. Jay Hafford had my truck waiting for me at their shop (Allagash Outfitters). We loaded up and made our way to Millinocket arriving there on Friday night.
    On my next trip I may take the easy route and put in at Telos. I'm definitely too old for Mud Pond Carry. Or maybe I'll do it the way Jerry does and put a motor on the White.
    I will also try to find out when Rollin is going. Trevor (the ranger at Michaud Farm) says that Rollin always seems to have perfect weather and water conditions.
    That said, the Penobscot side seems to have more wildlife and fewer people so I may also spend more time over there.

    Finally, if you haven't seen it make sure that you do. The canoe that Rollin built for the Waterways 50th is spectacular. It will be auctioned off to benefit the high and bid often.

    PM Me if you want Jay's number for the his father, honest as the day is long...not quite as much of a character but there's Mary...


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    Last edited: Jun 18, 2016
  6. shelldrake

    shelldrake LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Thanks for the travelogue Mike. Any trip with your son is a good one.

    We're looking forward to our August trip. Currently fiddling with a new, more suitable motor mount for the Guide. Looking forward to the big canoe and all the comforts it will hold. Hope we have good water like you did so we can use Indian Stream.

  7. kayamedic

    kayamedic Kim Gass

    We'll be headed there in August too.. hoping for high water levels. The other end of Maine is bone dry.

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