Canoe Trip (Jul)

July 9-18, 2004

Click to read Nick Gaudet’s trip journal

Troop 20 Canoe Trip 2004
Journal
By Nick Gaudet

Sat., July 10th

We left from Cookie’s at 8:05 after our last real breakfast for a week, several pictures, and teary-eyed goodbyes (from moms). It was a 6-7 hour-long drive up, plus a pit stop every 2 hours. At 3:30, we entered Millinocket and it took us almost half an hour to find the road to the launch site. When we finally found the trail, our two trucks and two minivans off-roaded for 30 minutes to reach Little Omaha Beach. We arrived at the site at 4:30, and then canoed to “Mussel Beach” (so named for the mussels we harvest from the water. Makes for a good appetizer.). This is probably the most comfortable campsite that we camped at, (excluding the campground) as it had a latrine. Beef Stew for dinner.

Sun., July 11th

Oatmeal/cereal for breakfast, which is what we will have every day, served with our powdered milk (little more than white water). canoe across the lake (leaving our stuff at Mussel Beach) to a mile-long trail that we had to haul all of our stuff across last year, ich was a whole lot of fun. Mr. Griggs wanted to prove that we were on the right track last year, as he said, when we got lost. We actually found the way we were supposed to go. We also saw some wildlife: a few duck families were seen. We return to Mussel Beach and have PB and J sandwiches, gorp, and Chewy Bars (the routine lunch for the next week, excluding the whitewater day). We travel upstream a bit (again leaving our gear behind) and in some rapids. We would all walk across the rocks upstream 200 feet, jump in the water (with our PFD’s on) and float down on the swift current, passing by Mr. Berry’s canoe, which was stuck on a rock. We would then swim to the shore before we were swept out into the lake. All of us made it to shore, except for Chris Kramer and Nate, who were spit out some 500 yards out into the lake and would have kept going until they were rescued. On the way back to Mussel Beach, we came within spittin’ distance of a young male moose before it ambled away. We came back and played “Canoe Wars” (a game in which one sinks the opposing team’s canoes and tries to capture their flag). The only drawback was that the beach was only knee-deep 300 feet away from shore, and that we were pestered by horseflies the entire time. Dinner is Shrimp Gumbo with mussels.

Mon., July 12th

We depart from Mussel Beach and cut through some small rapids. We made it through okay with one exception: Mike Berry‘s (our fearless SPL) canoe got caught in some rocks. After this, we tackled a 200- yard portage which I think we handled quite professionally and efficiently, if I do say so myself. We then stopped at the Boom House for lunch. The Boom house, built in 1907, sits at the base of Ambejejus Falls (now little more than a swift current, the water has risen so high). Loggers would spread nets out at in front of the falls to catch the chopped-up logs other loggers would send down from the felling areas. Chuck Harris, who now runs the House, keeps it in good order. He lives with his dog and makes his own canoes using only an axe, a crooked knife, a steel awl, no nails (wood pegs as a substitute), and few other tools. These wonderful pieces are sold for $100 a foot. After lunch, we leave the House and head to Moose Island, about 7 miles away. Halfway there we take a break at a privately owned island and perform our usual service project. This campout’s project was to extend the main beach several feet by placing large rocks around the existing sand. After this, we manage to reach Moose Island (after suffering through much exhaustion and lower back pain) and eat our macaroni and cheese with beef stick and pepperoni mixed in.

Tues., July 13th

After breakfast, we leave Moose Island and go south to find another “missing trail” that we couldn’t find 2 years ago. After we find it, we eat lunch on a bunch of rocks in the middle of the lake. As a change of plans, we go back to Moose Island to re-set up camp instead of going to our planned destination, a beach a few miles away. On the way, Mr. Griggs and Bryant rigged up a sail out of a paddle, a tarp, some rope, and some duct tape. Beef Stroganoff (noodles, beef jerky, and a sauce with potatoes and mushrooms) is for dinner.

Wed., July 14th

After breakfast, we leave Moose Island and travel back to the island where we built the beach (dubbed “Bryant Island”) for a break. After that, we arrive at the Big Moose Inn campground for lunch and to set up camp. We also restock on junk food and take showers. The only thing we do the rest of the day is chill out and eat, pretty much. Four adults, (one of which our scoutmaster) one scout, and the Boy’s Life photographers join us in the afternoon/night. For dinner, we have chicken and mashed potatoes with gravy. Also, in commemoration of Craig Wilson’s 15th birthday, we have a cake.

Thurs., July 15th

The day starts off very cold, rainy, and wet. Not good. We had pancakes for breakfast for a change. After that, we go to the whitewater headquarters to suit up and get briefed. We start rafting at 9:00. We start off at the bottom dump-out of the river at the base of a hydro generator. After practicing for a while, we head straight into some class IV’s. Very wild and wet, especially Exterminator Hole. After that, some easy class II’s with a “surfing” spot. We surf by getting our raft directly in front of a rock over which flows water. The guide then pushes the side facing the rock into the water, soaking everyone on that side. This technique is extremely fun to be part of. After that, some wild class IV’s followed up immediately by an intense class V. This portion of the ride was very intense, but we actually managed to park our raft halfway down the V for a photo op. Then the ride was not very eventful except for a few more surf spots, a moderately impressive class III, and our so-called “raft wars”, much like our canoe battles. In the calm spots, we push and pull each other into the water and splash water using our paddles. We did this entire course a total of two times, then had an awesome lunch consisting of steak or chicken, pasta salad, bread, hot chocolate, and cookies. Back at camp, we watch a slide show consisting of all the pictures taken. We veg out the rest of the day.

Reflection

This trip, as it has been said many times, was probably the best one yet. The main reason is that there were no bad days. None. The first year, there was one day when it rained while the scouts were canoeing. Correction: it poured, as I have been told (I was too young to go then). Last year, we had not one, but two really, really, really long and hard portages. There were simply no events fit on this trip to fill the category of being the least appreciated part of the trip. This was also probably the first trip in Troop 20 history that was 100% hassle and stress free (or so say the leaders). My final conclusion: I’m coming back next year.

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