Day 44: Big Duck Cove on Moosehead Lake to Lone Pine on the West Branch of the Penobscot River (20.6 miles)

Goodbye, Eagle Mt., watch over our special cove until life brings us here once more. A glorious sunny day with the wind at our backs meant a quick trip to Northeast Carry, where I would say farewell to all of my family until reaching Allagash Village in 8 or 9 days.  Mom and Dad arrived after spotting their second moose of the summer on the Golden Road, ready to take possession of my wheels and an overabundance of food that I had sorted out that morning.

The view approaching Northeast Carry, which is one of two arms that reach upward at the north end of massive Moosehead Lake. Traveling up the eastern arm, the cluster of buildings on the left is your landmark.

Northeast Carry is home to Raymonds Country Store, where Ed and Shirley Raymond are anchors in the remoteness of the north Maine woods. It was Shirley who taught me years ago the philosophy that kept me squatting on a log for hours with a boy from Brooklyn on the Raquette River. “Up here, if someone needs help, you help, even if the person is your enemy.” Shirley also makes a yummy cheeseburger and has the last groceries for many miles, although Ed reported that their store in now closed two days per week due to their various medical appointments. (For some reason, Shirley had decided that they weren’t grilling today, so I actually had cheese and some delicious nutty rice crackers with my iced tea, followed by a nice fresh donut.)

My soul is relaxing…only the challenge of Mud Pond Carry lies uncertainly ahead…otherwise, the shining path of the river beckons me to drift downstream in my own time, savoring the last days of solitude and discovery.

In many ways, the West Branch of the Penobscot River is like the Allagash Wilderness Waterway, in its scenery, wildlife, and management.  Passing under the bridge at Hannibal’s Crossing seemed the threshold of the wilderness.  An eagle soared from a spruce above, the clarity of sound bringing the squeak of wings against air, squeakiness not being an adjective that I had ever associated with an eagle before.

In the water, a cormorant may be mistaken for a loon at a distance, but they are more often spotted sunning on a rock or log or taking flight, which loons rarely do.

I was headed for Lone Pine, a small campsite on river right with a quaint handmade table, pleasant views up and down the river, and, most of all, the comfort of familiarity.  You know how you walk into a college classroom on the first day and choose a seat at random?  And then return there for every class, month after month?  That’s Lone Pine for me, in spite of the hike to the outhouse, across board bridges beside a parade of moose tracks.  This year I found many trees blown down and the work of clearing them up still in process, but I still loved being back in my “familiar seat,” gathering wood, chilling my little box of white wine in the river, and hanging my food bag from the ridgepole over the picnic table…a great feature of these campsites.

Pondering life while watching the ever-changing dance of the campfire…happily, I had added my folding saw to my gear not long ago. Above, the lovely moon still graced the clear, dark sky beyond the firs.