Day 21: NFCT Great Falls campsite to Ten Mile Square Rd. farmstand (11.1 miles)

Thanks to Chris at Clyde River Recreation I was able to charge my phone in order to take pictures today.

Thankfully, the Clyde River today held nothing as dramatic as yesterday.  When I asked Chris about current water levels, he told me that dam releases keep this section fairly constant and I found it returned to quiet, flower-filled curves.

While waiting for my phone to charge, I was reading on Map 6 that a lake once filled the river valley here.  The Abenaki who lived along its shores must have been astounded when a 1775 earthquake destroyed the natural rock dam in West Charleston and drained its waters.

Typical Clyde River scene, repeated over many miles.
Not so typical Clyde River landmark, guaranteed to make you pause for a photo.

Over halfway into today’s paddle, I rounded a bend to see Sydney and Marji, who had made it to Pensioner Pond last night after all, bypassing Charleston Pond.  We navigated downed trees, a beaver dam and the occasional confusion of the remainder of the river to the NFCT Farmstand at 10 Mile Square Road.  

Run by Pat and Bill, this place is a mandatory stop, with ICE CREAM and the ultimate trail supporters.  Deepest thanks to both Pat and Bill for allowing us to camp right in the farmstand yard by the picnic tables and water and for selling us fresh garden lettuce for a salad.  (A healthier supper than last night.)

Maple nut ice cream on homemade chocolate chip cookies, all sold by the honor system. Loved it!

Day 20: Derby Four Seasons Inn and Suites to Great Falls NFCT campsite (10.3 miles)

Motel time is a resource to be fully utilized when the schedule allows.  As in Swanton, I stayed until checkout time at 11, drying, reorganizing, writing and eating.  

From the minute breakfast started until it closed, I was consuming protein and calories to replenish my hardworking body, the body that has lately been amazing me.  They had hard-boiled eggs and yogurt and peanut butter and bagels and real Cabot butter.  Overall, a real surprise to me is that I am craving “real” food more than sweets, except for the fabulous bakeries I’ve visited.

Cloudy with unfavorable winds and an upset stomach as I launched on Salem Lake. Blah!

Today was a challenge to be met, more as I had anticipated the trip, even to the point of being dangerous.  I left Sydney and Marji doing errands, with plans to camp together on Pensioner Pond, after several portages, ponds, and another section of the upstream Clyde.

Little Salem Pond was a world of water lilies and grasses, followed by the sand ripples and clear waters of the Clyde. No mud for a time, anyway.

Curve followed curve, as damselflies flitted among the grasses, and graceful trees stretched bank to bank, an arch to paddle beneath.  A Google Earth image of this stretch would actually make a great maze, complete with dead ends.  

Sadly, all good things must end and gradually I began to fight the current, the shallows, then the rocks, the rapids, my goal the Fontaine Rd. bridge.  I almost made it.  Only one curve separated me from seeing the bridge when I admitted not only was it too risky to continue…I might be swept off my feet…but also that I was exhausted and had not been resting.  Just then, a mown lawn on the left, the sound of a lawn mower, and on the mower, Randy.  From my heart , I said, “You have been a blessing to me today,” as I took out across his yard.

Looking across the river just at the point where I put up the white flag of surrender.

After that, I was just looking for a place of respite and soon.  A quick stop at Scampy’s for snacks to go with dinner and then tiny Charleston Pond looked like heaven, with a welcoming loon.  

It turns out that there is an NFCT campsite there at the start of the Great Falls portage, home for the night.  (Pensioner Pond is further on, but it was getting late and I thought Sydney and Marji must be behind me).   By the way, dinner was cider, chips, and Snickers bars…oh no!