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NFCT Rockwood Maine to Umbazookus stream
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Author:  TommyC1 [ September 24th, 2009, 8:50 am ]
Post subject:  NFCT Rockwood Maine to Umbazookus stream

Photos by Tom C Taylor and James Cole, copyright 2009, all rights reserved, have your lawyer call our lawyer, yadda yadda yadda.
Last week I did my first ever trip in the Great North Woods of Maine.
My friends who are section paddling the Northern Forrest Canoe Trail wanted to paddle from the Demo Road crossing on the the Moose River, up Moosehead Lake, down the West Branch Penobscot river and across Chesuncook Lake to Umbazookus Stream.
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Sunday, I met Bill, Chuck, Jim and Mike and we caravaned up to Rockwood Maine.
We stopped at the Demo Road bridge on the Moose River and found the gage reading well below 0' so we gave up on paddling from Demo Road into Moosehead.
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We ate at the Birches where the waitstaff don't know what IPA is but the food is pretty good. And stayed at the Rockwood Motel where the view of Mt Kineo is lovely.

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Monday we launched into a building headwind, from the Kineo boat launch in Rockwood.

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It took us three hours to paddle 2 miles into the wind and waves around to Hardscrable Point. It was rock and roll fun except when I looked at the shore and realized how slow our progress was.

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Since it was only lunch time when we got there and the lake was only getting rougher we decided to hike up Kineo and catch the views.
Before we left we spotted a pair of kayaks heading down the lake towards us. Julie and Joe were a couple from Wisconsin who had been paddling around Moosehead for almost a week. They told us the wind had not let up all the time they had been there!
Hardscrable has plenty of tent sites so we welcomed them to stay. They were friendly but, perhaps intimidated by the bright yellow Kayaks S@ck! sticker on Mikes boat, they kept pretty much to themselves.
The climb up Mt Kineo was quite nice!

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Mike was so happy when we got back.

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Jim was too.

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We decided to break camp early Tuesday morning and get as much of the ten mile paddle up to Seboomic point done as we could before the wind came up.

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Paddling solo I love to get out at dawn. There's just something about the light, and about the air, and the critters.
I know it was tough on some of the guys. But getting out on the water as the eastern sky brightened and the light breeze riffed on us while the Barred Owls made their last calls for the night was such a treat for me. It was a morning I'll not soon forget.

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For the most part it worked.

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As did Chucks idea of hugging the west shore to stay out of the wind as it built.

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But we still had to cross the Northwest Cove to get to Seboomic Point. Again into the wind and waves though it was a bit easier than Monday

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The campsite at Seboomic Point was all roots and stones. We finally found places for five tents and there was plenty of driftwood for our fire. There were blackflies when we got there though I didn't feel any biting. After an hour or two they left us and the mosquitos came out. Those were biting but not too badly and after an hour or two they left as well. We kept busy foraging for firewood. Jim and Billy wandered off in search of the Seboomic campground store but that turned out to be farther than they cared to walk. Jim even went swimming after dropping his lenscap into the lake!
That night we were again serenaded by Loons and Barred Owls.


Wednesday morning was misty and calm with a dusting of Loons.

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We paddled the few miles up Northeast Cove to the village of Northeast Carry and left Moosehead lake.

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Raymonds Store is just out of Northeast Carry. We restocked and hit the road.

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At Penobscot Farm the Mosquitos were voracious. We put onto the West Branch of the Penobscot River and paddled away as fast as we could!

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A little ways down Jim and Billy spotted our first Bald Eagle. I looked up to watch his rump as he flew away.
Soon we came to Lobster bridge and entered Lobster Stream.

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The Lobster Stream parking area was full. We hoped we would find an open campsite on Lobster Lake!

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What we saw of Lobster Lake was deserted. We camped at Ogden South where it was more quiet than anywhere I've ever been.

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There was a light breeze so I borrowed Jim's Hobie sail and tried it in my Osprey. It worked pretty well but I don't know how to sail down wind without a boom.

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That night we didn't get everything picked up and a big old Raccoon got lucky with a half pint of milk and a can of peanuts. I came down from the outhouse at 5 AM to see him sitting on my boat hoping there was more. Glad he wasn't a bear!


Thursday morning it was calm with loons again.

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The mist was thick so we followed Chuck's GPS to the mouth of the stream. My compass heading of northeast would have worked almost as well. But as soon as I took my eyes off of it I'd swerve due east for some reason.

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A short distance up the stream we put up a Green Heron. I've not seen one in a while and this guy wasn't hanging around for pictures.

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By the time we got up to the parking area the sun was out. It illuminated a lovely spiderweb there.

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We returned to the West Branch and continued down.

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There was a bit of current helping us along. It didn't seem like much but we made 21 miles that day. The scenery was kind of monotonous with only the occasional kingfisher chattering or Flicka pounding to break it up.

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We passed under the Golden Road at Hannibal's crossing and soon came to Thoreau Island where old Henry David is reputed to have spent some time. That would have made a good campsite had we not stopped into Lobster Lake. A pretty spot but close to the road. We wondered if the road noise would have disturbed us? Farther down we found the folks from the parking lot. Many many fly fishermen in canoes and skiffs with gas engines, some with radios too. Glad they weren't on Lobster!

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We passed Big Island where I went left while the rest went right. The reputed class II rapids were barely riffles. I find it hard to imagine those ever getting to class II but I've only seen them at low water.
Little Ragamuf was the first site we considered stopping at. The Mosquitos convinced us otherwise.
Before we got to Pine Stream we got a beautiful view of Mt Katahdin.

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Pine stream was nice with a lovely ledge to sun on. But the sites were skimpy for our needs so we pushed on to Boom House where the Penobscot empties into Lake Chesuncook.
It was windy there but that kept the bugs down and we were just a few miles from Chesuncook Village where we were to meet our shuttle Saturday morning. We decided to stay two nights there.

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Friday we left our camp set up and daytripped over to Umbazookus Stream. The wind was finally at our backs and I sailed. After we crossed Caucomgomoc Stream. Jim decided to put his up as well.

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We stopped before entering Umbazookus and found this tree root. The photo hardly does it justice.

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The first two miles of Umbazookus Stream is a half mile wide with no bends, more of an inlet on the lake. An immature Bald Eagle (I think?) flew over as we went up. I sailed that as well only taking the rig down when we got to Umbazookus bridge. my six foot mast wouldn't go under that.

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The other side of the bridge was a different world. The wind was quiet and the stream winding. We hoped to find the portage over to Umbazookus pond but instead we found a family of moose, a bull with full rack, a cow and a younger (yearling) moose with small antlers. Sadly the only picture I shot was nothing but a blur. Jim did get a nice shot of Mrs. Moose!

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Eventually the stream got too shallow and rocky so we turned back.

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Back at the bridge we stopped for lunch and stumbled upon an action by the BLF (Beaver Liberation Front)

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I'm not sure they're quite clear on the concept of blocking the road but they are getting closer. The mosquitos were fierce there as well. We ate and ran.
Having sailed all the way over from Boom house I was feeling pretty fresh. That was good because we fought that wind all the way back. The wind kept building and coming back up the short bit of the river to Boom House was a real slog.
Back at camp the wind was pushing right through the trees. We hiked over to Chesuncook village and visited Chesuncook Lake House to check on our shuttle arrangements. David and Luisa Suprenant and family are about as urbane and friendly as you'll find anywhere. They offer lodging and shuttles in a place were there's not many folks around. Check them out.

http://www.chesuncooklakehouse.com/webcam.html

Happy with our shuttle plans we hiked back to camp. The wind was pushing right through the woods and it was feeling cold. I put on all I had and we had a good last night around the fire.


Saturday morning the wind was still blowing.

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As I was loading my boat a Bald Eagle flew right over our camp and circled a few times gaining altitude. The wind didn't seem to bother him at all.
Since it was blowing down the lake I figured I'd try to sail the two miles to Chesuncook Village. But first I had to paddle into the wind, out of the river mouth.
Paddling out I noticed a launch headed from the lake into the river. They passed in front of me then circled back. The game wardens aboard asked me if I had a PFD in my boat. I laughed looking out at the whitecaps on the lake. Then I unzipped my parka and showed them that I was wearing it. It's probably not funny that they aren't shocked to find someone paddling out into that without one. They headed up river to check out the fisherfolk and we headed down the lake.
Sailing was exciting to say the least. The waves would come up behind me and I'd rudder like mad to hold my course. Billy and Jim paddling in front of me pulled into shore just above graveyard point and I followed thinking that I'd be better off paddling. Boy was I wrong! When I paddled out I found that I could not hold a course down wind. The boat really wanted to sit sideways to the wind and waves. When I did manage to horse it around I'd just end up sideways pointing in the other direction. Meanwhile Billy and Jim were taking in too much water while Chuck and Mike seeemed to do fine.
I stayed sideways and let the wind blow me into the point while Billy and Jim took out a bit farther down.

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We carried the loaded boats 300 feet over Graveyard Point and put them back in in the protected water on the far side then paddled across that to the Lakehouse.

Our trip was done. We loaded our boats and gear on Davids Suburban and trailer and he drove us two hours over logging roads back to Rockwood. The first few miles out of Chesuncook village are 4wd only. We stopped twice to clear downed trees that blocked the road. But we made good time on the Golden Road only stopping at the checkpoint as we left the logging area. At the checkpoint we encountered a case of “Who's on First” The attendant could not understand how we could have got into there by canoe. He finally charged us $10 each for one days road use, neglecting to charge us for our three nights camping since we'd left Moosehead.

After David dropped us in Rockwood we drove down to Greenville and the Black Frog Cafe where we chowed down on non freeze dried food for the first time in a week! Mmmmm!

Author:  littleredcanoe [ September 24th, 2009, 9:07 am ]
Post subject:  Re: NFCT Rockwood Maine to Umbazookus stream

Man nice TR! Going up in a week. I hope the colors hang on and the weather stays fine

Quote:
We passed Big Island where I went left while the rest went right. The reputed class II rapids were barely riffles. I find it hard to imagine those ever getting to class II but I've only seen them at low water


They dont. At high water just washed out.

Author:  Robin [ September 24th, 2009, 2:16 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: NFCT Rockwood Maine to Umbazookus stream

A great TR, fun to read and really nice pictures. Looks llike a nice trip, Thanks

Author:  Matt H [ September 27th, 2009, 7:15 am ]
Post subject:  Re: NFCT Rockwood Maine to Umbazookus stream

Haw! That must have brought back memories, hitting that headwind right off the bat! Worse, Hal wasn't there to blame it on! Looks like you guys had a blast, made me yearn for the North Maine Woods.

Author:  TommyC1 [ September 28th, 2009, 8:27 am ]
Post subject:  Re: NFCT Rockwood Maine to Umbazookus stream

Matt H wrote:
Haw! That must have brought back memories, hitting that headwind right off the bat! Worse, Hal wasn't there to blame it on! Looks like you guys had a blast, made me yearn for the North Maine Woods.


Sure did. It was a lot like paddling into Belfast Harbor except I was in the Osprey instead of the Explorer. A couple of times when I took a little water I was wishing I was in the Explorer!

But no we got some tailwinds and some calm. Besides it didn't rain enough to make me think that Hal might have been around. :lol:

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