Day 7 – Friday – 9/23/11 –2:30pm:
“Today is the first day of Autumn.” Those were the words used to greet me by the 94 year old Evelyn, who lives right next to where she grew up all her life in Allagash Village, not far from the Canadian Border in Maine. She houses the vehicles for Allagash paddlers in her yard. Standing there on her front porch, holding her cane, it looked as if she were waiting all morning for me to arrive with a smile on her face. She welcomed me inside, with my wet & muddy Merrell’s & all to retrieve my car key from her kitchen table where it was with all the other keys spread out in formation. She said that she used to cook breakfast for 60 men at a time at Big Brook when she was only 17 along the Allagash while they worked lumber along the river. She missed that interaction & you could tell that she welcomed visitors to the house. She told me that “my muddy shoes weren’t going to hurt her floor none”.
And so it goes, I’m off the waterway on Friday afternoon after paddling 100 miles from Telos Dam to Allagash Village. What a week it’s been! The saddest moment of my day has been when my feet touched paved road & I saw my first car drive by. Actually, it was a Pelletier’s logging truck that first drove by. Last night turned out to be a good night. It worked out well camping at Allagash Falls because I had already portaged my boat & gear haf the distance I would need to by morning. There was no moose activity outside my tent that I was aware of. I took a couple sips of whiskey to end the night. I had done so each of the cold nights just to warm up a bit, but last night was more a celebration knowing it was my last night. Falling asleep to the sound of the roaring Falls did wonders for going to sleep & allowed me to sleep through the night only waking once to turn over. Once I did wake up, it was about 5:15am. It was still pretty dark so I packed away what I could inside the tent, then got everything else packed & ready. I portaged the canoe the rest of the trail to the upper pool, below the falls, it was a steeper portage than the lower pool but saved a decent amount of carrying so I opted for taking my time down the steeper slippery path. I would have some rapids to contend with at first launch but they didn’t look too bad. It took a while to get everything down to the launch which is another reason I’m glad I camped here overnight, it would have taken a considerable amount of time to do the entire portage today, & my muscles were tired already. I think I was on the river & paddling by 8am.
The day started out really gray & warm & even somewhat humid feeling, probably the warmest day of the week by far. I paddled for a bit down the river, then realized this was my last day & a rush of sadness took me. At that moment I decided not to paddle much the rest of the day & would just let the river take me to the end of the waterway at it’s own pace down to Allagash Village, going with the flow of the river & taking in everything the river had to offer my senses. I past some more moose just past the Falls. I just let the quiet & the solitude set in, breathing in that clean, fresh air filled with the smell of spruce & pine, watching the water lap the front of the boat on the rips & rapids that remained. I cruised through Twin Brook Rapids & Casey Rapids with no worries.
I’ve been looking forward to getting home to see everyone but I’m also so sad to see this week end. I know this is a trip that is done by others, but it has been quite the adventure for me coming up here all alone. It is epic in what it has done to revitalize my soul. In a fast paced world filled with Smartphones, GPS, MP3 & 24 hour cable news, it’s been incredibly rewarding & liberating to have the independent feeling of coming up here with just a map, compass, paddle & boat & to rely on yourself all day long. I think part of the reason for this trip was to prove to myself that I could do it, especially now at 40. If I didn’t do it now, I may have never done it. I proved to myself that I could dig down and find some inner strength at times & could take on something beyond the ordinary in my life. Just like always though, all good things must come to an end, but my memories of my Allagash adventure will live with me forever. (Final Rule – Get Out & Do Something Cool!!!!!)
-Good Day from Allagash Village, The Allagash, ME
P.S. I would like to thank my wonderful wife, Kerri for allowing me to indulge myself by getting away for the week and accepting the lack of communication for that time which was difficult. Her understanding is appreciated immensely. Also, I would like to thank my friend Jim who inspired me to take this amazing trip of a lifetime.
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