Day 45: Lone Pine on the West Branch Penobscot River to Umbazooksus Stream West (14.4 miles)

The croak of a raven and glow of the sunrise made for a time of peaceful writing in camp, getting me all caught up on my journaling.  This meant, traveling solo, that I could pause during the day to journal: “The slow drifting of surface bubbles contrasted with the swift darting of the swallows, as they skimmed just inches from the water.  It was the last of that shadowed time before the bright sun illuminated all.”

A new day reflected in the peaceful waters of the West Branch of the Penobscot

Not many others were on the river, but I visited several times with a young family in a canoe and kayak, telling them that I hoped that they would see a moose.  The young boy excitedly explained that anyone who spots an animal gets ice cream.  I heartily approve of that rule!

A bald eagle circling in the growing wind was the extent of the wildlife and, by the time I reached Boom House near Chesuncook Village, the conditions kept my mind fully occupied.  Chesuncook Lake, which I would cross at its northern end above Gero Island, is usually windy and choppy.  “We’re in for a wild ride,” were my parting words to the family with kids, who were heading down the length of the lake.

At first the wind was a friendly, ferocious force at my back, then a confusion of waves as I entered the lake and saw that glorious view of Katahdin and its neighbors far to the south.  Then the waves were fighting me for control of my boat.  I safely passed the comforting Graveyard Point, paddling for the most part into the powerful waves at an angle, first toward the north shore, then toward Gero Island to the south. Where would I camp?  Where could I reach?  Well, the wind answered that for me, finally just turning my boat broadside to the waves as my arms grew weary and scooting me along, thankfully close to the shore of Gero.  It felt safe, if a bit funny, to be simply along for the ride.

Whitecaps race across the top of Chesuncook Lake, as seen from the protection of Gero Island.

Well, the excitement wasn’t over yet.  After lunch on a comfy log on the lee shore beach of Gero Island, I braved the wind anew to cross into the arm of Umbazooksus Stream, which stretches north above the lake, funneling the waves, this time in my direction of travel.   Staying near the west shore of the arm, I surfed with abandon, luckily having success aiming straight for Umbazooksus West campground, somewhat unusual with its road access and longterm RV residents.  I daydreamed that they were all in awe, watching my perilous journey to join them.

When I got there, the campground was deserted, the RV’s mute as to my paddling prowess.  This also meant there was no one there but me to see my empty boat, pulled fully up on the gravel beach, be picked up by the wind and deposited in the lake.  Boy did I ever drop my last load of gear and run, catching the skidding boat by one hand in waist deep water!  I will let the photos below tell the rest of the tale.  Tomorrow…Mud Pond Carry…

Today gave new meaning to the term “unsettled weather,” as I experienced gusty winds, warm sunshine for swimming, violent thunderstorms, pea-sized hail, and drenching downpours.
And a rainbow, viewed from inside my tent.


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