Day 46: Umbazooksus Stream West to Mud Brook on Chamberlain Lake (7.9 miles)

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Nancy Spencer drove in yesterday, on a journey of rediscovery, visiting places where she grew up camping with her family. We shared the deserted campground and stories of times gone by in the places that have become dear to me.

Everyone knows exactly how many times they’ve done it – usually either once or never.  “Done it once, don’t need to do it again,” was one through-paddler’s assessment.  (Although I once talked with an Allagash ranger whose count was 9.)  Would mine reach two today?  Twice traversing the treacherous 1.9 miles of Mud Pond Carry, the historic gateway to the Allagash?

The feet of generations have worn the path deep, so that it is never dry, just clear and rocky in places and murky and mysterious in others.  To reach its start, I paddled up Umbazooksus Stream against a storm-strengthened current, pulled myself under the dam through a scary trough of waves, and crossed Umbazooksus Lake to the landmark rock cairn.

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This rock cairn restored by Team Moxie in 2011 marks the start of Mud Pond Carry.
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After carefully carrying my canoe almost half a mile over downed trees and slippery rocks, I was then able to float it almost that same distance, at times with my gear inside!
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Look, I discovered a lunch spot on high ground!

As the water grew deeper, each foot was placed with care.  Invisible under the often ankle-deep murk hid rounded rocks, the remnants of an ancient boardwalk, and a deceptive bottom that might be solid for your left foot and a sucking vortex for your right.  Today the portage yoke proved its worth yet again.  In fact, carrying the boat was actually easier than lugging the second load’s weighty bags, trying to keep them above the mud.

The scariest moment came when my right foot suddenly slipped between two of the hidden boards, then wedged at an awkward angle.  Luckily, I was slowly maneuvering bags at the time.  As I wiggled it out, I shuddered, imagining the possible outcome if I had been carrying the heavy boat with a lot of forward momentum.  Soon after, the bottom firmed up, the water cleared again, and I realized that, yes, I was going to make it.  My count would indeed reach 2.  “Did it twice, don’t need to do it again!” says this aspiring through-paddler.

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Mud is demoralizing, creepy, and uncomfortable, packing itself painfully into every crevice of your shoes.
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What story lies behind this orphan abandoned along the way?
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Remnants of the ancient boardwalk, looking back along the carry.
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Frogs of every shape and size inhabit the murky depths.
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I was pleased to reach Mud Pond after 5 1/4 hours, just in time to watch some ominous clouds skirt around me. Here I am waiting on the whim of the storm before entering Mud Brook, the fast-moving stream that leads to Chamberlain Lake.
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Ah, my campsite at last…a well-earned collapse, comforting warm campfire, and a perky chipmunk for company.

TOTAL MILES: 629.4

3 thoughts on “Day 46: Umbazooksus Stream West to Mud Brook on Chamberlain Lake (7.9 miles)”

  1. In general I am opposed to cairn building but in this case there needs to be one. The height of land is a beautiful spot I spent some time there observing a spruce grouse. I triple carried it, does that count as only one trip?

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