Day 37: Start of Spencer Stream and Grand Falls Hut to Fish Pond campground site #5 (13.8 miles)


Family togetherness at the Grand Falls Hut
For four years, I’ve been saying, “I paddled all of Maine except for seven miles, the upstream part on Spencer and Little Spencer Streams.”  This was the day to finally meet the challenge of the hardest stretch in Maine and I was ready, waving goodbye to Taylor as he headed back to Virginia.

Selfie at the confluence of Spencer and Little Spencer Streams…I am finally meeting the challenge!

PADDLER’S NOTE:  As with the South Branch of the Dead River, I took detailed notes.  The ascent of both streams, a distance of 7.0 miles, took me 6 hours and 20 minutes.  Water levels must have been in my favor, because I did not have to unload my boat at all, nor lift over any dams.

The first and last miles required the most and slipperiest walking.  My GPS showed 2.4 miles and 2 hours to the confluence of the two streams.  Every mile had intermittent portions that could be paddled, for anywhere from 35 to 300 paddle strokes.  The easiest mile or more was around Parker and Parker Bog Brooks.

Enough notes!  As I was tucked up under a ferny, licheny, brownish-gray wall of rock, enjoying Sarah’s no-bake chocolate, peanut butter, oatmeal cookie, I heard a soft squeal.  I looked up into the eyes of a moose…the first of my trip…on dreaded Little Spencer Stream, no less.  She puzzled me out, then settled comfortably for a while, until I said softly, “I won’t hurt you.  I’m going to go and leave this place to you.”  But when I moved, she faded into the brush.  

PADDLER’S NOTE: I easily found the portage (to take you around the dam without ascending a rock cliff) at the top of Middle Deadwater just below the rapids.  The aluminum boat was there as promised, as well as a green canoe.  After a short carry up a smooth trail, it was wheelable the rest of the way to Spencer Lake.

By then I was exhausted, but a tail wind pushed me along up to the campground at Fish Pond, where Sydney and Marji later joined me.  We had the campground to ourselves, although the one on Spencer Lake had been full.  Went to bed quite content.


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.