Day 33: Maine Forestry Museum to stealth campsite on the South Branch of the Dead River (15.9 miles)

I believe Janie and Paul could actually fatten me up while I was paddling and portaging long distances every day. Today, homemade waffles to begin what I knew would be a challenging day.

Gave Noah (taking photo) and NFCT interns Matt and Evan a huge thanks for their hard work and the promise to return sometime to help with a work trip.

Noah encouraged me to paddle some today.  What’s unusual about that?  Typically, this time of the summer, the South Branch of the Dead River is dead (water too low for paddling).  And not knowing, many through-paddlers do not attempt any of this section, instead taking a shuttle or walking 23 miles!  I had my heart set on at least trying and then sharing the results with other paddlers.

PADDLER’S NOTE:  I successfully (with some effort) paddled about 9 miles of the South Branch of the Dead River.  Walking to the Dallas Carry put-in from the museum was 3.5, not 2.5, miles.

From Dallas Carry to the Fansanger Falls portage was 2.4 miles, including parts like the Nulhegan and parts like the deeper Clyde.  Obstacles included over and under a couple of fallen trees, Class I rapids that were also shallow, and out of boat for perhaps 8 boulder gardens, worse near end.  This section took 1.5 hours.

Today’s flower identification puzzle…thanks to Chris Gill and Janet Dempsey for supplying the name of Swamp Candle, which I also saw in profusion today.

Wouldn’t it have been sad to walk by this?

PADDLER’S NOTE:  Some kayakers thought I could put in at the bridge a mile before the Langtown Mill bridge, but there was a large fishing audience, steep bank, and I continued walking.

The 6.7 miles from the Langtown Mill bridge to the Kennebago Rd. bridge gets deeper, calmer, and less rocky as you progress.  The first three miles included a huge tree across the river that required a actual portage; fast, sweeping turns with strainers; some fun rapids; and at least a dozen times out of the canoe walking.

The day ended excellently with a perfectly-mown stealth campsite complete with approximately 10,000 black flies and mosquitoes.  I cooked and ate my burritos from the tent.


4 thoughts on “Day 33: Maine Forestry Museum to stealth campsite on the South Branch of the Dead River (15.9 miles)”

    1. Is ArrowRoot relatively rare? I have only seen the one plant. And, yes, this part of the Dead River really meant a lot to me because it is where I capsized into a strainer in 2011. Get back on the horse…


  1. Thank you Laurie for your real time information on the South Branch. I have been advised to monitor the not too far away Spencer Stream gauge, and I note that it 300 on your first Dead day and more like 200 on your second. It’s great you were able to paddle as much as you did! Do I understand correctly that after walking Quill Lane you continued on Rt. 16 and then put back in at Langtown Mill? Did you judge the bit below Quill Pond Brook to be just too low? I may still try the remote portage plan for the Cherry to Nash section, but we’ll see. Thanks again for your great reports, and I look forward to tracking your progress up Spencer Stream and beyond! Alan


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