Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Whitewater canoeing trip

Last weekend, 12 friends and I paddled 28 miles along a remote river in northern Maine. We started with a bright sunny day. A halo hovered around the sun. A long mountain range traced the river to our right as we paddled south.

On the first day, we portaged (carried) our seven boats and multitudes of gear beside the river to avoid treacherous water falls and unpassable drops. We also enjoyed fun stretches of whitewater, requiring us to pause, review  the rapids, and choose the best route down river.

After camping on Saturday night and enjoying the campfire and good food, we awoke to steady rain on Sunday. We packed our wet tents and gear, and began our second day of paddling. The rapids again were fun, but we also had 2 more portages, one of which was long and tough on our spirits. We also enjoyed seeing two different 20 foot waterfalls, which we certainly portaged around. Eventually, the rain stopped by mid day.

My partner and I ran most of the rapids well. A few times, we had to bail out our canoe at the bottom of the rapid. I remember just one disagreement when I wanted to steer the canoe next to a huge rock, and my partner grumbled, "you're killing me" as we passed by it. One boat capsized but the crew managed to reach the shore safely. The worst accident was a cut finger while my friend tried to open an entangled knot.

On Monday, we paddled mostly flatwater and saw our first signs of civilization, a few camps along the river. Eagles passed overhead a few times. The trout and salmon fishing was impressive. We finished the trip with a fun rapid passing below a small bridge. Our last portage was just a short carry from the riverside to our vehicles. This group has paddled together for at least 12 years. This trip was another great one.