It was August 2009 and we were vacationing in western Maine at the Sunday River Resort in Newry. A spectacular evening was upon us as we had just finished dinner and the boys wanted to go fishing, driving a few miles east to North and South ponds in Greenwood. Locals had told us that fishing from Johnny Bridge Road was good, so here we stood. The boys were becoming professional weed fisherman and dad an expert lure changer. Another cast another clump of weeds. Well when they reeled up this clump it began to move only to reveal a small mouth bass. To say Michael & Max were ecstatic would be a slight under statement. It would be the perfect ending to a beautiful evening with my boys.
I’m not a voracious reader like my wife but I do enjoy the occasional book from time to time. I just finished reading Paddling the Northern Forest Canoe Trail “A journey through New England history” by Sam Brakeley.
Sam and his close friend Andy set out on the 740 mile adventure in 2009 taking 39 days for them to complete. As you may or may not know I have a passion for the NFCT myself. Although I have only paddled small pieces of it.
This book captured my sense of adventure and my passion for the outdoors. I really enjoyed reading about Sam and Andy’s interactions with others along the trail, just as much as their trials and tribulations. The Dead River section in Maine did not sound like fun to me, that is just me. One Aspect of this book that caught my anttention was the hospitality, generosity and kindness of strangers and town folk showed all through their journey. Whether I’m out paddling, hiking or running I always relish people I meet or even friendships that blossom from those meetings.
All in all I really enjoyed this book and as Sam and Andy approached Fort Kent, ME ending their adventure, my adventure ended as well.
Finished with exploring Henderson lake I reloaded all my gear into and onto my car and began the slow journey from New York to Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom. Making a quick stop in Ticonderoga for fuel and food before crossing at Crown Point. There is no highway that runs west to east in Vermont so the 158 miles to my destination was slow but the scenery more than makes up for it. Leaving the Champlain Valley my favorite section of this adventure is on route 17 as you cross the Green Mountains and descend into the Mad River Valley. There are six hairpin turns I believe on this section of road.
I would spend the next several days visiting with friends and doing what I enjoy most. Roaming around Vermont and New Hampshire taking in their beauty. Over the past several years I have visited the town of Newport, VT and Newport has really grown on me. Nestled along the US/Canadian border, Newport sits at the southern end of Lake Memphremagog. Lake Memphremagog stretches 32 miles to the southeastern Quebec city of Magog. I hope to someday kayak parts of this lake which oddly enough is part of the Northern Forest Canoe Trail. After a long day and as we were 200 hundred yards or so from the house my friends truck would lose its brakes to a ruptured brake line. All I can say is thank goodness it happened close to home.
On our way to Cannon Mountain in Franconia Notch State Park we are climbing route 112 which is also called the Kanc (Kancamagus Highway) cresting near Beaver Pond we noticed smoke along the Kinsman Range. It appeared that a small forest fire had started and personnel were on the scene. Continuing on to Cannon Mountain we would take the tram to the summit. As the tram car climbed the winds increased quite considerabley and the temperatures dropped as well. At the top we made our way to the tower, a viewing platform where on a clear day you can see for over one hundred miles. The fog and clouds were rolling over the mountain tops playing a game of hide and seek with the sun.
Afterwards we stopped to check out the “The Basin”. The Basin is a 20 foot diameter granite hole at the base of a beautiful waterfall. Some say it had been eroded 15,000 years ago while the North American ice sheet was melting. Over time The Basin has been smoothed small stones and sand, whirled around by the Pemigewasset River.
Stopping in North Woodstock, NH at the Woodstock Station Inn & Brewery for lunch it was so sunny and warm at this point we chose to sit outside. I sampled some of their beers with my favorite being the 4,000 footer IPA. For lunch I would knock down their adult grilled cheese sandwich with a side of chili.
Heading back west over the Kanc we noticed there was a lot more smoke than earlier this morning. A helicopter was also on he scene making water drops on the mountain side. We would spend the next 90 minutes watching and photographing the efforts of all involved. I’ve never witnessed a forest fire of this size about (5 acres) at the time up close. Looking at the sheer rock cliffs one could see the firefighters trying to advance. The aggressive sound of their chainsaws cutting timber in efforts to battle the blaze could be heard echoing down below. The heat from the fire was causing slides and I could see trees falling. According to news reports that I have read there is speculation the fire was caused by a meteor strike which is unconfirmed at this time. As a note this section of the White Mountain National Forest is also part of the Appalachian Trail.
The next afternoon I would begin my long trek back home taking me 6.5 hours. The traffic on route 4 across Vermont was horrible and slow going. I was glad to be home!
See you in Old Forge….
Spending four days in Vermont and New Hampshire was a great way to wind down my vacation. Thursday evening was spent at Dartmouth college in Hanover, NH watching the Reel Film Paddling Festival by Rapid Media and sponsored by the Northern Forest Canoe Trail .
However the next two days (Friday & Saturday) was nothing but rain with short breaks in between. Friday was a total wash and we had spent the day kayak shopping over in North Conway, NH. Saturday morning the rain had stopped for a while and I was able to knock out a quick 5 mile run. Showered now we were off to harass the local wildlife. Sitting at Reeds Marsh in Orford, NH a local had tipped us off to a pair of Merlins who had been in the area lately. Sure enough we found them! They were beautiful to watch as the male had went a caught either a Junco or Chickadee and brought it back for his girl.
Sunday morning was the gem with a beautiful sunrise, partly cloudy skies and a light breeze. Although it was rather chilly when we set out for French Pond in North Haverhill, NH. It was a great start to the day. Afterwards I would pack up and make the six hour drive home, briefly stopping in Bainbridge, NY to order my custom kayak paddle from Dale Fox of Foxworth Paddles. Once home and car unloaded I was off for a great tempo run as the weather was still perfect.
Stepping back to the summer of 2014 and we are at Acadia National Park in Maine. I think this had to be one of my favorite trips. The Atlantic was cold even in summer but such a fun time.