Day 50: Sams on Long Lake to Deadwater North on the Allagash River (27.0 miles)

Last summer, Dad, our friend Mike, and I shared a magical campsite abounding in wildlife and blueberries, called Deadwater North.  Today’s goal was a long day of paddling (23 miles was the projected distance in my notes) to return there, although I knew that this year there would be no bacon and blueberry pancakes or baking in Dad’s reflector oven.  Anyway, it was disheartening to start out into a hefty wind right in my face, one that also seemed to keep all the wildlife from the water.  The pull of the current was a welcome ally as I returned to the river after several miles of slow going.  At Long Lake Dam, perhaps in memory of Chris, I decided to line the boat through on river left, as we did in 2005, rather than portaging on river right.

Lazily, I did not even attach a stern line, and was lucky that I didn’t end up swamping the boat.  With the present high water levels, I could actually work it along most of the shore in very shallow water, where the metal spikes remaining from the original dam could easily be avoided.  When I reached the last swift drop, though, the safe, shallow edge evaporated, the river snatched at the boat, and it was almost a disaster.  For a moment, the canoe tipped and took on some water and it took all my strength to wrestle it back under control and maneuver it into the calm pool beyond.  All’s well that ends well, but next time I would definitely attach a second line!

The site of former Long Lake Dam, where I lined my canoe through along this shore.
The first of the landmark elms that greet paddlers as they approach Round Pond. These trees survived Dutch Elm Disease due to their isolation in the Allagash wilderness.
I had one quick chance at this photo as I drifted by, at first thinking this was a merganser nest, but I don’t think it is.
Today’s flower of the day, quite common in the delta approaching Round Pond.

As I entered Round Pond, a squall blew through.  First, a dark gray cloud inevitably overtook the sky, before reaching a point where the cloud simply enveloped my whole world.  Rain pounded the lake and I paddled furiously in an effort to stay warm, passing a family huddled under a tarp at the Inlet campsite.  As usual, I was in my bathing suit and a thin t-shirt and shorts, and probably looked crazy.  At the ranger station, I stopped to bail out the boat and Kale invited me in where it was somewhat warmer, especially after I put on a dry thermal top.  I recognized him from last summer at Michaud Farm and we chatted about float planes and bears and the hit that the moose population has taken this year.

Kale explained that a species of tick which had never successfully overwintered this far north has now gained a permanent foothold.  The ticks are drawing so much blood that moose are becoming anemic, and dying, or, if they survive that, then scratching themselves bare in large patches, and freezing to death during the harsh winter.  After that conversation, I felt quite lucky to see three moose after the weather cleared, a bull and two cows.

This will get your adrenalin going and keep you paddling a few more miles!
This mighty, magnificent monarch of the river seemed comfortable with my presence as long as I didn’t get too close.
A rainbow sky across from Deadwater North as I finished my 27-mile paddling marathon
Mike and Dad, look who’s living among the fireplace rocks at our campsite.

For supper, I tried herbed mushroom risotto with basil pesto, a gourmet dehydrated meal from a new company called Good To-Go in Kittery, Maine.  The company’s meals were recommended to me in the camping department at Maine Sport and this first taste of their food was delicious, with a fresh, colorful appearance and a list of ingredients that were all easy to pronounce (as the package points out).  Not bad when there is no reflector oven in sight!


5 thoughts on “Day 50: Sams on Long Lake to Deadwater North on the Allagash River (27.0 miles)”

    1. Thanks, Chris, I wasn’t sure which merganser species were cavity nesters until I came home and looked up photos of their nests…in hollow trees and lined with feathers. Thanks again for all the species ID expertise!


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