Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Pump Handle Campsite: Allagash Wilderness Waterway Canoe and Guide Training Trip Journal

September 14, 2006
We dragged ourselves out of our warm dry sleeping bags at 6:30AM while listening to the rain and drizzle outside. We ate our usual oatmeal for breakfast and prepared to line our canoes through canal stream by learning to tie a slippery bowline to one side of the stern, a prussic knot in the middle and a slippery sheet bend on the other side of the stern. This rope work is called a canoe bridle.
It rained and drizzled until 9AM, and after that it was dreary and overcast. A group of three men from Connecticut came up through the canal and headed down the lake. This was the exact reverse of what we were about to do so we had a quick chance to ask them about the canal while they portaged their canoes over the dam.Jeff left us and headed South down the lake following them- he planned to sleep in his truck and head back to New Brunswick the next day. While we grouped up to plan the day, a spruce grouse reclaimed the campsite totally unconcerned we were still there. After our meeting, I followed the spruce grouse around and took pictures. She was as tame as any chicken.
We lined, paddled, poled, and pulled the canoes through the old canal and over beaver dams. Once through, we paddled to Thoreau campsite and ate our lunch. While eating, we learned that some people wanted to go straight to camp while others wanted to see the tramway. I decided to go to the tramway with five other canoes while the rest went to our next campsite, set up camp, and cooked dinner.
Right before the tramway we saw a cow moose and she just kept staring at me while the other canoes closed in. She didn't know what I was but didn't run away either. After twenty minutes or so, we paddled on to the tramway and left her eating on the shore as if we’d never been there.At the tramway, it was amazing to see the huge locomotives and other assorted giant equipment and pieces of metal lying around like huge gears, crankshafts, and steam engine blocks. We paddled across Eagle Lake past Farm Island and I took out my fishing pole and trolled the lure behind my canoe. I eventually caught a nice 11" trout which was again just an inch too small to keep.
I trolled my line out behind me again and while I was just taking in the views and paddling along, another trout took out all the line off my reel. At the last minute, I saw my line floating on the water. I reversed direction and retrieved the line and tied it onto my pole.
I was the last canoe to arrive at Pump Handle campsite and immediately asked Bud to help me fix the reel. I reeled in another nice trout which was also too small to keep. We set up our tents, I changed out of my wet clothes (wet wool pants), and we ate dinner. We recited the few poems we could remember around the campfire. Tim read a few paragraphs from Robert Service's "The men that don't fit in". It was interesting to see how the group dynamics were changing. Bud recommended that we check out books from Edmund Ware Smith. We stayed up a bit but were all in bed by 9PM.

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