Four Day Solo in Eastern Maine-Pocumcus, Junior , Scraggly Lakes Oct 3-7, 2012
I had not solo tripped on any of these large lakes in Eastern Maine in the West Grand Lake region before but Robin posted a couple of TR’s from the region on other websites. The area intrigued me for late season paddling as it is possible to basecamp from a central location and explore nooks and crannies of several large irregular lakes. Now I did stay off West Grand Lake as that lake is larger than Opeongo , is the biggest in the area, and has a reputation for being rough with wind. There is a breed of large wooden canoe , square stern, propelled by a small outboard motor that is native to this area. For good reason, my skinny dedicated solo is to be regarded as a toy in these waters. The lakes that I did travel are hardly small. For the most part crossings involve a mile or more of open water. I traveled some 40-50 miles on the water. Part of the challenge was getting there in the car! The village of Grand Lake Stream is easy enough to find, but after that you pray your De Lorme is up to date as you navigate the logging roads. Every year there are some new ones. A GPS is a big help here. Robin had mentioned a campsite on 4th Machias Lake that I wanted to stay at the night before the trip. Well after one try at going down a road that was last used I don’t know when..(it was grass and small trees and very high center pointy rocks making me worry about my car’s oil pan) and then six other similarly unproductive roads, I found the landing at 4th Machias Lake. But as it had a camp on it, unoccupied, I was uneasy about trespass and moved on. Turned out I saw no one for five days…anyway. The DeLorme had indicated another campsite just across the Grand Lake road from a south arm of Pocumcus . That one proved to be signed for day use only…Sigh. I obeyed and moved on. I wound up at the campground at Elsmore Landing. I hesitated at this one. The AMC Quiet Water Guide indicated that it was a state campground. Signs on site indicated it was run by Domtar, the Canadian timber Company..( not surprisingly Maine is owned by mainly Irving and Domtar) Out of 23 campsites about half were trailered. Would I be trespassing? There was no one to ask…no people. Dead silence. I pitched my tent and waited and soon it got dark. The skies were bleak and sunrise was at seven and sunset at six.
The big bugaboo of the trip.. what to do with that much dark.
Here is a map from Downeast Land Trust https://www.downeastlakes.org/visitors- ... -kayaking/
The map does not cover all the area so I also depended on the DeLorme Maine Gazeteer and the AMC Quiet Water Guide for Maine. All the resources have campsites marked but I found the DeLorme and the Quiet Water Guide omitted some sites.
I started from Elsmore Landing at the foot of Pocumcus Lake about nine am and paddled some ten miles through Junior Bay of West Grand Lake Thursday and Junior Stream, landing at Mosquito Island on Junior Lake. The weather was dour, gloomy, but the water and the air were warm and the wind..calm.
Here is Minefield –er-Junior Stream. Due to the high density of rocks, watchfulness is required. The water levels are down about four feet from high water.
After finding a gloomy west facing campsite on the mainland I paddled( one of those open water crossings) toward an island campsite that was less sheltered but lighter. Would I regret this?
Not long after arrival the rains started. And it got dark. And it rained. But it was warm. By now I had finished book #1 by John Grisham.
A long fall sleep.. Up at six..not quite light. Up at seven. Gray. It rained quite a bit during the night. Breakfast of oatmeal again. Left camp in situ. Was just going to investigate Scraggly. Was about a ten or twelve mile paddle depending on how much I wanted to poke around. I remember vividly about how dangerous it is to day paddle with minimal survival kit and remember to take some with me.
Scraggly has a couple of nice island campsites and per Maine tradition features rocks..and rocks
Back to my “haven” gee it looks exposed. It’s getting ready to rain again. The “flare” is from water on my waterproof camera lens. It pays to bring something dry to wipe it off with, which I did not have.
Raining again ..I am well into my second long book.
Next day I pack up the damn stuff anyway and jam it in the pack. Everything is wet. I am going to be back at the car after a ten mile paddle anyhow.
HAHA! No You Will NOT saith the wind god. Let me give you twenty five up a ten mile fetch. This is back on Junior Stream. The wind funneling is awful.
The weather is good but I give up after seven miles and pull into Flood Cove on Pocumcus Lake. Doesn’t it look so peaceful? (It’s west facing. The wind was from the SE)
I go for a little dip..yes dip. Its still warm. I make dinner,secure camp, bemoan the fact that the last book has been finished and Nature unleashes a fury. The temp drops twenty five degrees in ten minutes, the tent threatens to flatten I run to retrieve drying things and it starts to rain and snow and wind hard. But brief. However I am occupied with trying not to get blown into the dri ki(while in the tent which is staked).
Sigh there is always something to be done on a solo trip. Obviously I have not reached the car. But it ought to be an easy 45 minute paddle the next morning. But I get distracted. I get to scanning the shore and find these wood canvas beauties.
Then I get to wandering off to see Dobsis Dam between Pocumcus and Sysladobsis Lakes. There is supposed to be a portage there and a campsite. I am just curious on this exploratory trip (add some four miles to the journey too).
I love historical stuff. I wonder about the last days of this boiler.
The campsite is a beautiful estate like lawn. Come to think of it it must have once been some sort of large logging headquarters with a massive house.
The area is on snowmobile and ATV trails but it is immaculate. Dam and fish ladder.
Nicest campsite I never camped at. So far this journey I have seen 0 People. The final count is 0 people. This morning started cold with ice in the pot. Now as I approach the car it is sunny and warm. The car starts and announces via LED display that it is..at 12:30 PM Sunday Oct 7, a whopping 41.