A golden sunrise begins to light our way around camp. I like to pack up everything not related to breakfast as soon as I wake up. There is nothing worse (to me) than tearing down camp. I love setting it up, but I always hate to work to leave. Plus, that leaves the best part for last - eggs, bacon and more steaming black coffee.
Today we'll leave the mouth of the Penobscot River and enter into Chesuncook Lake - the state's third largest. I've had bad experiences on this lake. Wind quickly and easily picks up into some very large whitecaps. Like most guys who have spent a lot of time on the water in small boats - it can get very choppy. At a few miles wide and 22 miles long, it's not a place you want to topple a canoe.
Three years ago I was out here with a buddy of mine - it was my first time on this waterway and we lost our way. We paddled 40 miles that day. It's a day I'll never forget. We spent a night in the wilderness without any way of communicating with the outside world and we didn't see a soul all day for directions. Lesson - buy, study and carry a good map.
Today would hopefully be different. We stop at Chesuncook Village at the Store in the Woods. Not really a store - more of a home - with a porch - and a refrigerator, full of homemade root beer and fudge. I've been here three times and I think the root beer packs a punch that it probably shouldn't - but it tastes great. Any cold soda tastes great after drinking river water for four days I suppose. Nonetheless, I love this little place and the history behind the village.
A few hours of paddling and we make our way about 15 miles down the lake to a small sandy beach camping spot. The view here of Katahdin is like none other. It's complete solitude and a literal heaven. If the world ended, you'd find me camped out here. We toss the tent up and get an early dinner started.
As I toss out the sleeping bags, I realize I only see one set of keys and a stray thought enters my mind. You see, we brought two vehicles out here. Gab left the pick-up vehicle at the finish point. She'll drive us back up river (40+ miles) to my truck at the launching ramp. The plan was to drive out together and back home.
"Gab - where are your car keys?" Silence filled the air as she thought - never a good sign. "WHERE are your car keys?". "Your truck", she says. Stranded .... Stay tuned....