Corporate life has consumed me most of my adult life, so when my company recently moved my office two hours south of my house, I accepted a severance package which allowed me to take the summer off. My last six months at work were not stop, but I would often add ideas to the list for what I could do with all of my impending leisure time. At the top of the list was another trip to the Allagash with my 70+ year old father and my two boys 15 and 16.
Over the last few years, I had purchased The Northern Forest Canoe Trail Official Guidebook, Quiet Water Maine, Gil Gilpatrick's Allagash, and the AMC River Guide and I had read all about the southern routes we could use to canoe north into the Allagash Waterway. In reality, I probably just looked at the pretty pictures.
My dream trip was to start at the Northeast Carry and canoe up into Chesuncook, up Caucomgomoc Steam and Lake, to Round Pond, then carry to Allagash Lake, and canoe down to Chamberlain to the Thoroughfare bridge. This is probably the same dream where we caught massive fish and rescued the drowning Victoria's Secret models. It would have involved all sorts of logistics about shuttling multiple vehicles that I decided to avoid for cost, risk, and time reasons.
I began to look at circular routes so that we could start and end in the same place. The tricky spot seemed to be the Mud Pond Carry and my books didn't have a lot to say. This is the same mud pond carry Thoreau described in 1857. I found great information on a couple of blogs the Gill adventures, paddling.net, and even Yankee magazine online. I decided this trip was possible, we would just have to endure one day of pain.
My last day at work was July 6, 2015 and I managed to wait until the last minute to make reservations with Loon Lodge for two days later. The evening of July 6 and 7 were spent packing frantically and trying to figure out what I might have forgotten. The canoes and the gear and crate with camping stuff had been packed the previous weekend. I was literally up until 1 AM working on the trip plans and grabbing screen shots from books so I could print the pages and leave the books at home.
Last minute activities included cleaning off memory cards and charging camera batteries, cleaning drying laundry (camp clothes), paying bills, returning library books, and grocery shopping. I had let my boys finalize the menu which meant that they also waited until the absolute last minute to decide what we would eat right up until we were at the grocery store.
After grocery shopping we separated each meal into bags in the food crate and I printed guidebook pages. We added 3 more crates and paddles and life jackets to the truck. We had a ton of mac and cheese left from a surprise party so we froze it and took it on the trip too. I finally crashed into my bed at 1 AM. The hardest part of these trips is getting ready.
In the end, the plan was to start July 8 at Loon Lodge on Round Pond, climb the Allagash Lake tower, put in at Johnson Pond, paddle south to Allagash Lake and stay at the ice caves. We would paddle down Allagash Stream to Lock Dam, then paddle east across Lock Dam to Smith Brook Campsite. We would go west to the tramway and portage over to Chamberlain and paddle south to Lock Dam, then across Chamberlain to Mud Pond campsite. We would then paddle west into Mud Pond and do the Mud Pond Carry and stay at Umbazooksus. We would paddle south to Chesuncook and north past Canvas Dam to Horserace campsite on the Caucomgomoc Stream. Sometime around July 15 we would return northeast to Round Pond Loon Lodge and drive home.