Mike and I awoke to below freezing temperatures. All of the gear that was left out was covered with frost. I had ice in my Tiki-Man water bottle, so it got down to the mid-20’s. The sky was dark when we exited the tent at 6 AM.
While I began to cook breakfast of sausages and pancakes it started to rain, and cold rain can’t be ignored out here.
Mike and I quickly put up the rain tarp over the ridge pole, and I staked out the corners.
We needed to get some warm food into us, as it would be cold on the river, which had a version of sea smoke rising from the surface.
By 7:45 AM we had eaten, washed dishes, organized and pack up most of our gear. I retreated into the tent to warm up in my down sleeping bag. Out plan was to leave this Croque Brook campsite and the cover 15 miles to Allagash Falls to stay there for the night. Mike had no dry shoes left so I showed him how to put plastic bags over his socks to help keep his feet warm.
There were more headwinds to content with again today. On the way downstream, we stopped to fish an hour or so at the confluence of the Musquacook Stream and the Allagash. We didn’t have much luck, but I walked past a large painted turtle on the shore.
Later, we stopped at the Cuniff Depot campsite where Mike fished and I wandered in the woods until I found the remains of two rusting Lombard Log haulers, 10 to 30 ton machines that could haul 300 tons. Logs were hauled on sleds in trains of four to ten sleds, at speeds of 4 or 5 miles per hour and 20 miles per hour down hill. Eighty- three Lombard steam log haulers were made, and were mostly used in Maine and New Hampshire but three went to Russia. Lombards were phased out with the advent of the trucking industry in the 30’s. I took two photos of them, but later learned that my Panasonic digital camera was internally fogged and that the photos were unacceptable. I was able to successfully dry out the camera in three hours by keeping it in a shirt pocket.
We didn’t make it to Allagash Falls today. The cold wind was just brutal in the afternoon. The river was widening out at this point, and the flat light and wind was making it impossible to see into the water and we were hitting many stretches where the water was so shallow that we were fetching up on the bottom. Our only action was to push and grind ourselves ahead by planting the tips of the paddles into the gravel and muscle ahead. We also learned that the water level on the river at this time of year was unusually low, due to a lack of snow cover up here this past winter.
We planned to take a break at Michaud farm campsite. The ranger came out to greet and sign us out, as this was the official end of the AWW. He mentioned that “ Your friend [Gus] is here, and wanted me to tell you that it is OK for you to share his site tonight.” We learned that Gus was actually guiding Beck’s first Allagash trip. She was from Swanville, ME and had always wanted to do the Allagash. It was fun to share the site with them with the talk all about canoes, past trips, and winter camping.
The temperature kept dropping all afternoon. At one point I had three layers of Ibex wool under shirts, then a Pendleton wool dress shirt on under my Patagonia Puffball jacket. I had a wool hat and gloves on. I put on my rain pants over my wool long johns and heavy long pants for extra warmth. Even so, I was fighting to maintain warmth.
After Mike and I had warm supper of hot dogs, beans, cole slaw , brown bread, and freshly baked chocolate cookies everyone retreated to the tents early.
It’s freakin’ May 30th and it may snow tonight here! We are truly in the North Country, with the Canadian border less than a full day’s paddling ahead.