Day 36: Flagstaff Lake island near Long Falls Dam to Spencer Stream and Grand Falls Hut (9.8 miles)

After dozing off so early, I was up at 4:30 and soon gone, motivated by a much-anticipated rendezvous…my son Taylor and parents were meeting me at Grand Falls Hut for the night.

PADDLER’S NOTE:  My total mileage for Flagstaff Lake following the north shore and camping on the island was only 19.1 miles.  At Long Falls Dam, I used the road portage option and put in at Big Eddy, passing a short trail that led to a view of Long Falls.  

Long Falls looking up toward the dam and Flagstaff.

A bit of moving water started me out on a peaceful 6.5 miles of the Dead River.  Eagles, kingfishers, and mergansers there were in abundance, but none of the large mammals I hoped for in the early morning, drifting gently around the river’s curves.  It was still beautiful, though.


Forty-foot Grand Falls is audible well before you reach the 1.5 mile portage, which starts at the Maine Huts and Trails aluminum dock. I put the portage yoke to use for the first half mile, before wheeling the rest past the first ripe blueberries of the trip!


Map 9 is finished…where are the days, the weeks going to?  (The official photo taken at the bottom of Spencer stream won’t upload).  

Mom made a big effort to hike into the Grand Falls Hut, but she survived and especially enjoyed all the bunchberries along the trail.  Seeing Taylor again after six months was the best…we walked back to Grand Fall, saw a doe nibbling leaves, and I stayed up until the late hour of 9:30 playing Uno and visiting with the other guests.  Thanks to staff Nate and Sarah for great food and care, especially my grilled cheese.



Day 33: Maine Forestry Museum to stealth campsite on the South Branch of the Dead River (15.9 miles)

I believe Janie and Paul could actually fatten me up while I was paddling and portaging long distances every day. Today, homemade waffles to begin what I knew would be a challenging day.

Gave Noah (taking photo) and NFCT interns Matt and Evan a huge thanks for their hard work and the promise to return sometime to help with a work trip.

Noah encouraged me to paddle some today.  What’s unusual about that?  Typically, this time of the summer, the South Branch of the Dead River is dead (water too low for paddling).  And not knowing, many through-paddlers do not attempt any of this section, instead taking a shuttle or walking 23 miles!  I had my heart set on at least trying and then sharing the results with other paddlers.

PADDLER’S NOTE:  I successfully (with some effort) paddled about 9 miles of the South Branch of the Dead River.  Walking to the Dallas Carry put-in from the museum was 3.5, not 2.5, miles.

From Dallas Carry to the Fansanger Falls portage was 2.4 miles, including parts like the Nulhegan and parts like the deeper Clyde.  Obstacles included over and under a couple of fallen trees, Class I rapids that were also shallow, and out of boat for perhaps 8 boulder gardens, worse near end.  This section took 1.5 hours.

Today’s flower identification puzzle…thanks to Chris Gill and Janet Dempsey for supplying the name of Swamp Candle, which I also saw in profusion today.

Wouldn’t it have been sad to walk by this?

PADDLER’S NOTE:  Some kayakers thought I could put in at the bridge a mile before the Langtown Mill bridge, but there was a large fishing audience, steep bank, and I continued walking.

The 6.7 miles from the Langtown Mill bridge to the Kennebago Rd. bridge gets deeper, calmer, and less rocky as you progress.  The first three miles included a huge tree across the river that required a actual portage; fast, sweeping turns with strainers; some fun rapids; and at least a dozen times out of the canoe walking.

The day ended excellently with a perfectly-mown stealth campsite complete with approximately 10,000 black flies and mosquitoes.  I cooked and ate my burritos from the tent.