April 25, 2011

Canoe Trip - West Branch of Maine's Penobscot River

My fondest memory on the water is a trip that, in most books, ranks as one of the most desirable canoe trips in the East, the West Branch of the Penobscot River. Today it is renown for it's salmon run and plentiful rainbow trout; a fly-fisherman's dream. Rich in history, long-log drives on the Penobscot River supplied timber that built the cities that would be early Boston and New York City.

Setting out on a 4 day voyage from Lobster Lake to lower Chesuncook Lake, I removed the slightest idea of work from my mind and replaced it with my Double LL fly rod. For this week, I would concentrate around the art of sparking fire, practicing my fly casting technique, and cooking hearty meals on cast iron.

The mornings began early, the sun dominated afternoon skies, and the evenings were peaceful and story-filled. Three mornings we watched bald eagles fly above us. They, too, made their way down river. The second morning we awoke to the footsteps and splashes of a moose, as he crossed our campsite and then the river.

We did not bring a trustworthy map and what the gatehouse provides isn't sufficient. On what was to be our final day, we were unable to find our pick-up vehicle before darkness set in. We were forced to pull our canoes up onto a beautiful beach. As the frustration subsided and the realization set in that we would be unable to contact our loved ones, we made camp. Lesson learned. Do not be specific with family to when you will be home - give an approximation. To make brief, all ended well and memories were made!

One of our canoes pulled up on the shore of Pine Campsite

Casting a fly at sunset into the West Branch before Chesuncook Village

Beautiful campsite set up before the dinner bell rang

The trusty L.L. Bean Double LL Fly Rod

We hooked our two canoes together and set a makeshift sail with our tarp and oars

In 1911, these men sailed from the West Branch to Fort Kent. We did the same thing nearly 100 years later. Humourous that I had no knowledge of the above photo until post-trip. I do not own this image. I own no copyright. Full rights are held by Maine Historical Society. It can be found on their website. 

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