September 20, 2006I was up at 6AM and tried to get the fire going without much success due to the rain. Paul took over and spent an hour or so and finally got it going when the rain let up. The weather appeared to be clearing slowly and Bud said his barometer was holding steady. I ate a bowl of GORP with canned milk. I packed while the others finished their breakfast. Then I had a bit of millet in a bowl with more milk. I still thought it was for the birds.
We packed everything up even though it was soaked and I took the time to treat the blister from my hike with 2 coats of liquid bandage- yikes that stung. I found a big bullfrog that was stuck in the woodpile and picked him up. He growled and howled even after I put him down on the beach. He was mad at the world. Then he hopped into the water and swam away.
We left the campsite a bit after 9AM and headed for a spring. Bud visited a sporting camp on the other side of the pond that he had been previously visited in 1962. We filled our water bottles at the spring, Bud rejoined the group, and we all headed down the rapids. I put the camera in the cooler to keep it dry when I was really worried I might go for a swim. When we went by Outlet campsite there was a woman packing gear into a Mad River canoe. We began to snub our way through the rapids using the poles. (snubbing is stoppng the canoe or changing its direction with a pole going downriver)When we snubbed (stopped) in mid-rapid as a group to discuss poling strategies, the Mad River canoe came zipping through the rapids bouncing from rock to rock. They smacked and banged their way through our group and then on down the river. Their expletives following each drum of the canoe on a rock were quite entertaining to our whole group. I guess we felt like we finally knew what we were doing.
Tim kept offering suggestions about improving the way I returned the pole for my next push. Hopefully that meant he thought I was using it the right way the rest of the time. I seemed to be missing the rocks with the canoe and finding the deepest water even in the shallow channels. Poling through the rapids was a total blast!
We ate lunch at a beaver dam where the Musquacook River meets the Allagash at 1:30PM. I tried a bit of fishing at the beaver dam but had had no luck. Just after we resumed down river, we went around a bend and I thought I could look back and see the tower I climbed the day before.
We made it to Five Fingers campsite at 3PM. There was a huge rock and eddy in front of the campsite. This is Tim's favorite swimming spot on the whole Allagash. A few in the group swam out and shot down past the big rock.
I tried to fish it but got nothing above or below the rock. Bud caught a nice 10 or 11" brook trout which he cooked and ate. I had a bite and it was delicious. I started to change out of my wet socks and Devin started yelling. He had just had a fly fishing lesson and almost immediately hooked a beautiful 14" brook trout. It was gorgeous. When we cleaned it, Bud cut open his stomach and we found a whole shrew in there! You might say Devin is hooked on fly fishing now.Bud salted the fish, rubbed it with flour, salt, and pepper. He salted and peppered it while he cooked it and again before eating. He preheated the fry pan with oil to medium hot- the oil was just making a popping sound, Bud said salt pork or bacon fat would work too. He'd have mixed 50/50 flour and cornmeal if we had had it.
He started to fry the fish when the oil was hot- not smoking but close. He browned both sides of the trout while holding it down with the spatula. Once both sides were browned, he reduced the heat and cooked it 5 minutes per side (10 minutes total per inch thickness of fish). He then cooked it a little longer for good measure. Then he separated the meat from the backbone at its thickest point. He fried a few onions in the fishy oil right after the browning stage of cooking.
(Bud’s Secret Tips- butter can't take the heat but it browns a fish nicely. Also, 1 part yogurt, 1 part mayo and a bit of dill makes a wonderful sauce for trout.)
We all ate some of Devin's fish. It was delicious- the best trout I had ever had. Just when we finished the trout, our regular dinner was ready. We all ate dinner (not nearly as good as the trout- tuna, rice, and celery). Then we ate gingerbread for dessert. I wrote in my journal while the dishwater heated. Devin and I did dishes again. Then we looked at the stars and tried to stay up. It was cold and crystal clear. We went to bed about 8:30PM.
When I got up at 2AM for my typical middle of the night ritual, I noticed it was warmer and there were no stars out. It started raining at 2:30AM . As soon as I heard the sprinkles, Bill and I grabbed our gear and threw it in the tent which kept most everything dry. It rained quite hard until about 8AM.