PADDLER’S NOTE: The Saranac River in flood stage was much more powerful and the rapids on the Moose River trickier with less water than Chase Rapids. I was glad I decided to keep my gear, which gave my boat the same feel that it has had for hundreds of miles. The first mile of Chase Rapids has all of the Class II rapids, with a chance to catch your breath between each.
What an awesome day, what an awesome place, the icing on the cake of this incredible journey!
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.
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.
Another great Cup o’ Tea tradition is signing the wooden steps, which still bear the marks of Paul’s father’s measurements during construction. I added this year’s adventure under my 2011 Paddle for Hope signature.
Paul served omelettes made to order, mine with cheese, tomato, and pepper, along with toast and raspberry jam that Janie had made from local berries…yummy! We ate on the porch, the lake a mirror, while fog still hovered on the mountains.
I was glad I had paddled all of the lake yesterday and could relax and enjoy the fellowship. I was graciously invited back for another night, but carried all my stuff with me to be honest. On the drive to the Oquossuc Carry Rd., which Janie walked with me, we saw a fox!
Rangeley Lake was bursting with friendly people kayaking and enjoying their docks. It was the essence of summer fun and jubilant moods. One woman in particular asked me how far I had come, then laughed when I told her 445 miles. Until I introduced her to the NFCT, when she proceeded to cheer as I paddled away. Reactions like hers are very energizing!
PADDLER’S NOTE: My GPS only measured 6.8 miles, less than the map indicated, on Rangeley Lake. The very nice women at Ecopelagicon verified the new portage route, but really had no information on river conditions.
The new portage through Haley Pond is a welcome improvement – good signage, pleasant trail with sturdy bog bridges, and NFCT interns Matt and Evan were at the museum shelter ready to install a moldering privy near the lean-to during this week’s NFCT work trip.