November 5, 2013

Week-long Canoe Trip | Bald Eagles & Moose | Part 2

Part II, continued...

  The West Branch of the Penobscot is famous for its wildlife and our first day on the water proved that fact. An hour into our paddle, we were passing the flask around a corner as a moose spotted us from the muddy waterside bank. With inquisition and a hint of tameness - he stood in place - rubbernecking as our canoe made way down river. That's something to raise a toast to.


 The river was extraordinarily calm all afternoon. We setup camp the first night at Thoreau's Island - his journeys document his staying on the same island. New to canoe camping, we try to make organized work of unloading the canoe - essentials first like the tent, sleeping bags and food. Then we move on to the wood and other gear. The site, equipped with a fire ring sits on a tall, grassy hill overlooking the river. A beautiful view - not a person within a 10 mile radius and only a handful of loggers beyond there.


Pulling the waxed tab off the Maker's Mark - we relax by the campfire as our first real camp meal begins cooking. Tonight we'll enjoy a beef stew with everything in it but the kitchen sink. At camp or on the river - you need meals that stick to your ribs. You usually only have the time for a good meal twice a day. Crackers and cheese isn't going to do this man any good.


4:30 AM comes early. Through the darkness cracking twigs ring out near our tent. Startled, Gab hits me in the side, harder than I wish she could. Flashlight in hand, boxers and Bean Boots - I crawl from the tent to investigate. The cracking moves further from the tent, towards the far end of the island. I think it's a moose, but I don't see him. I slowly make my way through the thicket to the other end of the island, down the bank to the water and spot a bull moose swimming across the river. I ask him politely to stay in place while I grab my camera. He listened, but when I returned I had forgotten my longer lens. The moose in thick fog would have made a great photo.


I jogged back to our tent, grabbed the camera and paddled around the island to hope for a better shot - he was gone. A big sausage and egg breakfast set the tone for day two. The sun is shining bright today and it's not long back on the river before we spot two bald eagles. They follow us down the river for miles, landing in the tree tops, watching as we float by then flying further down river to keep us in sight. It's been an action-packed two days. I can't wait for the rest of the week. Stay Tuned...


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