Day 53: Allagash Village to the Eastern Terminus of the NFCT (30.8 miles)

Sue Kelly and I in Two Rivers Lunch, surrounded by the authentic charm of the northwoods of Maine.

Dad capsized.  I dropped our camera in the water.  Not a promising start for a 27-mile day.

After a hearty breakfast, we started off at 8:45 a.m. with less than a mile of the Allagash remaining before the St. John.  In this short section lies fairly straightforward Casey Rapids.

Dad suggested I go first today, to find a good line through the whitewater sections.  I had just swiveled around to check on Dad when he tried to navigate between two rocks and hung up on a third, tipping over and going for a chilly swim.  I scooped up his floating hat and water bottle, as he walked his canoe to shore, still with a solid grip on his double-bladed paddle.  In my helpful fashion, I hauled his boat up on shore and dumped out the water.  It was a day later (on the way home) before he realized that was probably where he lost his GPS, rather than in the river itself!

Turning downstream on the St. John, we searched carefully for the last two missing items…Dad’s spare custom cherry canoe paddle and his bleach-jug bailer.  You will be happy to know that although Dad spotted just one of them, it was the paddle.  Where Pelletier Brook enters on river right is a Class II rapid not marked on Map 13, which I successfully ran right down the center.  Dad was nearer shore and was forced to line his boat along the edge.  Trying to take his photo with one hand and bring him a makeshift walking stick in the other, I dropped the camera, so no action shots today.  From here our luck had nowhere to go but up.

Mom has gotten comfortable driving Dad’s Toyota Tacoma truck just for this trip (thanks, Mom!) and she met us in St. Francis for lunch.  In spite of the challenging morning, we decided to continue on after our lunch of cheeseburgers, soda, and candy bars from the general store.  Norm Pelletier, who generously let us access the river through his campground, estimated that we had 4 1/2 hours to go to reach Fort Kent.  As much as I had wanted to dawdle on the Allagash, I wanted to hurry now.  It was starting to rain in earnest, but the four difficult Class II rapids were all behind us.  Dad had run the last several perfectly, including the huge standing waves in Rankin Rapids.  So off we went in the fast-moving current, averaging about 4 mph.

After pausing in the river while Dad went shivering up to fetch his phone, I paddled the short distance that remained. Just before 6 in the evening, I stood at the kiosk marking the Eastern Terminus of the NFCT. I was finished.
We forgot to take Dad’s photo until the next morning as we headed for home. Dad has now paddled Maps 1, 2, part of 10, 11, 12, and 13.

TOTAL MILES: 749.7  (the official NFCT literature gives the total trail distance as 740 miles)


7 thoughts on “Day 53: Allagash Village to the Eastern Terminus of the NFCT (30.8 miles)”

    1. So glad you enjoyed it. There were truly times that your through-paddle inspired me to try paddling portions (rather than walking), even if walking would have been far easier. We will touch base as our stop in Rotterdam gets closer, just to see what suggestions you might have as to shore adventures.


  1. your posts have been wonderful, I’m looking forward to meeting you some day. Any theory why you went 749 miles when most folks go about 710? Does it include any side trips?


    1. Hi Chris. Yes, we need to paddle together sometime…your family, too. I still remember your daughter’s account of Mud Pond Carry which encouraged me before the first time I tried it. Yesterday and today have been days of compiling stats about my trip, especially details on number and length of portages and which sections of the various rivers I walked rather than paddled. I am also noting where I can explain some of the mileage additions. For instance, on Lake Champlain, paddling back and forth to Knight Island to camp. Will keep you posted.


  2. My theory is that often we don’t go in straight lines and those deviations will vary from person to person. This is more pronounced in lakes, but happens in rivers also. Sometimes my GPS would record longer distances for the day than Laurie’s even when we were paddling close together most of the day. I, however, kept mine with me when I had to make more than one trip on a portage, while she did not.

    I do know from past experience not to leave a GPS turned on overnight. In addition to running down the battery, it will add up all of the little inaccuracies of those hours, and record them as distance travelled. (Or maybe I sleepwalk?)

    George, aka Dad


    1. I am certain that part of the mileage inflation was simply the GPS bouncing to different satellites or whatever it does. My guess is that my actual mileage was probably around 730 miles.


  3. Hi Laurie Congratulations on your wonderful conquering of the NFCT–I have loved reading your posts. Wonderful to see the front page photo and article in this week’s Lincoln County News. I am so glad you are getting the recognition you so richly deserve!
    Pat & Jim


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