Lobster Lake canoe trip – Part 3/final

The sunrise this third day indicated a possibly clear day.

Sunrise from  Odgen Point

Sunrise from Odgen Point

By six am I had the first two of our six pots of coffee happily bubbling away.  Nearby a family of ducks were frantically nabbing what I assume were tiny fish that were hanging out near the edge the sand.
It wasn’t long before Pat was up and we had the three smudge pots in full force again, with bad mosquito mojo on the rapid rise.

Dave is a master at whipping up excellent breakfasts, and this pound of bacon was served up with a killer batch of pancakes , butter, and maple syrup.

Dave with the Big Pan

Dave with the Big Pan

After a few more coffees, we started talking about the history of the early settlers of this area. Catholic missionaries were the first to wedge a toehold with the natives, who eventually were “converted” and started the slow acculturation slip that eventually left them as lost souls with each foot in separate worlds.

While stoking the smudge pots, we bumbled our way to a huge, and even possibly accurate idea- that the Catholic Church’s early growth in the Great North Woods was not the result of any sort of religious awakening on the part of the natives, but might have been solely due to the missionaries’ ability to generate huge clouds of incense which repelled mosquitoes and black flies! We thought we were really on to something and were stunned that this concept was not included in Malcolm Gladwell’s bestseller “ The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference”.
My quick online search revealed that both the Catholic, and now those Johnny-come-lately Wiccan, churches still use incense, which they both burn in a “thurible” or “censer.” The thurible holds burning charcoal (or wood) to ignite the incense and hangs on chains so that it may be swung by the priest when censing people, or mosquitoes. You just know they were swinging that censer to increase the oxygen flow to the charcoal , fire up the coals, supercharge that incense, and get that cloud up to size .
So, here’s my current Christmas wish item, available online from Invictus Alchemy.



“This brass hanging censer is 3″ diameter and over all 6″ high. Very effective. Comes with chain as well. Sized for cones and charcoal, available immediately at just $11.85 ! I wonder if I can get a titanium model to take backpacking? I am also going to field test some frankincense or maybe that old-school myrrh stuff.

We’re into it. Here’s a shot of Pat getting ready to head on over and cense the outhouse!

Ancient religious ritual in progress

Ancient religious ritual in progress

View down Lobster Lake

View down Lobster Lake

The circumnavigation of Big Island was the major excursion of our day. We fought the wind and the waves and headed south down the east side of the island, even exploring a beach where we picked up some dry firewood.
Around Big Island

Around Big Island

 We stopped to fish for a while in the coves at the south side but didn’t even get a nibble. Eventually we caught the wind at our backs, and spent the return back to our site with the two canoes lashed together as we drifted back on the tailwind.

Our hopes were high for the afternoon wind to be strong enough to keep the mosquitoes at bay, but we soon learned that a gale force blow would be needed for that to occur. Within minutes of settling in at the picnic table, a gust of wind tore the tent stakes out of the ground and the tarp battered the table, dashing pots, pans, and cups onto the sandy ground. But those pesky mosquitoes came right back.

Later, we all went swimming to clean up, wash off grime, and escape the bugs.

Clear swiming pool

Clear swiming pool

In the end, it’s all about food, shelter, clothing but mostly about food, which is what has appealed to me about this trip. At lunch today, a wonderful idea fell from my mind right onto the picnic table.
It started Hank was hacking a slice of Spam from a 12 oz. can. I. cringed when I realized he was actually placing an uncooked pinky-grey slab on a decent slice of multigrain boule.   I’m a proud fan of grilled spam and after Hank offered me use of the stuff, I rapidly engaged in yet another use of the new Bushcooker Lt 1 stove: the grilling option. I skewered a 1/2 inch thick slab with my Mora knife and was delighted to discover that the width of the slice allowed me to fit it between the pot mounts.

Tom grillin' Spam and boilin' up soup

Tom grillin' Spam and boilin' up soup

And then even greater satisfaction came my way when I was able to place my pot of soup on the stove to reheat, even as the Spam slice was grilling away to perfection. For me, “Opportunity is the mother of invention”.

We were out early the next day, as Hank had a musical engagement with his band, All That Jazz, at the Elm Street Grill in Camden at 6 PM. It was raining again as we departed, but the wind was mostly at our backs. There was enough wind to generate whitecaps, and we had to be careful to keep the canoes from being broadsided by the waves as we eventually found the inlet to Lobster Stream, and meandered back to the car, where we quickly loaded the gear. Once inside the car, we proceeded to deal with the hundreds of mosquitoes that found their way in.

When we eventually reached Millinocket, it was about 11 AM, and we hit the Appalachian Trail Cafe for lunch , where I spotted Paul “Old Man” Senechal, who I was familiar with from my travels on the Trail . Paul and I commiserated a bit about this year’s wet hiking season, but he was making good money with lots of AT shuttles, and told me he spent 11 hours shuttling hikers the day before.
He also said that this was reported to be the first year in recent memory that the mosquitoes were attacking full force in downtown Millinocket, a town hit so hard by the recent economic downturn that Main Street ‘s storefronts are now more empty than full.
Anyone who want to make some quick money up Millinocket way should seriously consider opening up a boreal division of Holy Smoke Supply Central. I definitely would have spent big stocking up on the good stuff for my next trip up these parts.




About tjamrog

I'm sixty-seven and live in the Maine woods. I thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail in 2007, the Pacific Crest Trail in 2010, Vermont's Long Trail in 2011, and the Continental Divide Trail in 2013 . I am outdoors every day. I offer guided backpacking trips and classes in Maine, through "Uncle Tom's Guided Adventures".
This entry was posted in Camping, canoeing, Maine, Outdoors. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Lobster Lake canoe trip – Part 3/final

  1. Mame says:

    I detect a faint trace of the Catholic boys school influence percolating through this entry. “You can take the boy out of the church, but you can’t take the church out of the boy…”

  2. Kevin Weir says:

    In ancient times incense was furnished by two trees, viz. the Boswellia sacra of Arabia Felix, and the Boswellia papyrifera of India, both of which belong to the Terebinthian family. Mention is made of it in Numbers 7:14; Deuteronomy 33:10, etc. It was procured from the bark much as gum is obtained at present. To enhance the fragrance and produce a thicker smoke various foreign elements were added (cf. Josephus, “Bell. Jud.”, V, 5). These ingredients generally numbered four, but sometimes as many as thirteen, and the task of blending them in due proportion was assigned under the Old-Law ordinances to particular families (Canticles 3:6).

  3. Beverly says:

    This was so fun to run across your video as I was researching Lobster Lake, I’ll be going the end of this month (Aug.) and so enjoyed watching the it…we may consider taping our trip now…

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