Canadian Canoe Routes

Machias River - 4th Lake --> Machias (town) May 2014
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Author:  VA paddler [ October 27th, 2014, 10:24 pm ]
Post subject:  Machias River - 4th Lake --> Machias (town) May 2014

5/4/14 – 5/9/14 – Machias River –
Left Harrisonburg, VA on Friday 5/2/14. Drove as far as Albany, NY and got cheap motel rooms. Saturday finished drive to Machias, and stayed at Machias Motor Inn (nice place). Dinner at Helen’s. Picked up block ice and repacked coolers. Sunday 5/4 – Rob from Sunrise Canoe and Kayak met us at motel, and led us to river take out lot. Dropped vehicles and got in his van. Had planned on put-in at 5th Lake, but roads were not open yet, so had to put in on 4th Lake. About 2-hr drive from town to 4th Lake put-in at the bottom end of the lake. Sorry to have missed 5th Lake and the stream between 5th and 4th. Still a few pockets of snowbank in the ditches on the way in. Started to pour down a cold rain at the put in. Crew got changed into wetsuits in Rob’s van – lots of comments reminiscent of high school days regarding trying to get dressed in a back seat. On the water about noonish.

Crew: Christian – paddling old OT Tripper; Tom – old Mohawk Nova; Carl & Hoodock – each paddling Esquif Canyons.

A quick paddle across 4th Lake put us in 4th Lake Stream. The rain tapered off as we hit the stream. A few riffles and a pair of bald eagles later we emerged into 3rd Lake. Stopped for a quick lunch break before entering the lake proper to fuel up for the paddle across the lake. Intel put the paddle across at 3hours in good weather with double blades. Rain started in earnest again – this time accompanied by stiff head wind. 3rd Lake felt interminable. Cold, wind, driving rain. The Tripper outperforms the Canyon & the Nova in flat stretches. I was generally a quarter to a half mile ahead of the rest in the flat stretches. Aimed for the campsite on the midlake island at Farm Cove. Nice site, but the guys didn’t want to haul gear up the hill to the top, so pushed on to the site on the back side of Prune Island. Also a very nice site. Made camp. Hoodock came in 30 minutes behind the other 3, acting very hypothermic. Got him a chocolate bar, and changed into dry clothes and next to a fire, and all was well. Rain off and on all night. Chorizo & cheese-stuffed chicken breasts for supper.

Monday, 5/5/14 – My birthday. Eggs & sausage & English muffins to start out a gorgeous day. Tailwind pushed us across 3rd Lake – all we had to do was steer. 3rd Lake Stream was a combination of some fun little CI/II stuff and flatwater. Otter Rips was not memorable. Long Falls was the deviation in this stretch. Yesterday’s rain had really pushed the river up, and Long Falls was a little more than we wanted to tackle. At that level, you needed to drop over a ledge through a tight river left shoot, then cut to far river right, through pretty quick current and catch a sweeping turn over another ledge. This would leave you in river center in the current where you would immediately head into the third drop, which was the most significant, and which was a torrent of waves and holes and which you’d just have to punch and hope for the best. On reflection, we probably could have done it, but at the time we erred on the side of safety, and portaged Long Falls on river left. There is a scouting trail that we used as a very poor portage trail. I guess the portage was about 200 yards. I imagine it took us nearly 2hours. A bit of fun CII followed Long Falls into 2nd Lake, and more flat water into 1st Lake. We camped at the river right site at the bottom end of 1st Lake. The Gazeteer does not show it, but the site is road accessible and does not have a very wilderness feel to it. Steaks for supper – we earned them.

Tuesday, 5/6/14 – quite a bit of flatwater brought us to Carrot Rips (Karrick Pitch) – we scouted, then ran right down the middle with no trouble. More flatwater (Maine-ers have various terms for their rivers where there is no whitewater – current, good current, quickwater, deadwater – but it’s all the same. Note to Canadians, Maine quickwater is not an equivalent to your E.V. designations). A few little riffles, but nothing remarkable, brought us to Airline Rapid. We had scouted it from the Rt 9 bridge on Saturday evening as we drove into Machias, so we decided to just go ahead and run it. The rain had pushed it up considerably, and it was a blast. The first third of the rapid is a straight up wave train with a few large holes to avoid, concluded by a river left eddy you can choose to pause in. If you run it, I’d just stay center as long as you aren’t full of water, and don’t catch the river left eddy. We did, and I found getting back into the center line from the eddy was too tough and wound up taking a bouncy ride down river left, dropping into holes and filling up with water. The guys in the Canyons managed to get the fun run through the middle (that’s where those Canyons outperform the Tripper), and we caught the first campsite below Airline, even though it was early in the day. Again, not very wilderness-y. Road accessible, though the rapid drowned out the sound of all highway vehicles except for the jake brakes on the big trucks. We should have pushed the next 4 miles to the campsite at Little Falls which looked really nice.

Wednesday, 5/7/14 – there was some serious drinking at the Airline site. Wednesday was difficult to get started. Thankfully, the first 4 miles did actually have some current and slid by quickly. We scouted Little Falls, and the idea of portaging it with a hangover was a non-starter, so we ran it on the river left side, everyone preferring the idea of a swim to that of the carry. No swimmers. Flat water slog to the Wigwams, which we scouted and ran. Then more flat water to the portage around Upper Holmes Falls. Here there is a good open portage trail, about 1/3 of it an actual carry up an incline, and 2/3 more of a slide back down to the river. There is a site at the end of the portage, but again, very close to a road, so we made a site a short paddle downstream, on the river right point where the river turns to the southeast.

Thursday, 5/8/14 - Started with Lower Holmes Falls which is a good wake up. We took the right hand channel around the island, on the river left side, then quickly cut to river right to take an S turn through some more CII run out. The weather was so nice I almost took a bath after Lower Holmes. I got up to about my thighs and managed to dunk my head in and wash my hair, but I couldn’t bring myself to an immersion, even with the wetsuit on. 10 miles of flat water later we made it to Great Falls, probably the best rapid on the river. There was a line on the right and the left. Both were run successfully. We camped on a little point on river right in sight of the rapid before the river turns to the south. Very nice site. Here Tom took the croquet match and the title for the Machias River.
Friday, 5/9/14 – As soon as we made the turn to the South we got hit with a head wind that lasted most of the day. From Great Falls to Whitneyville is 6.5 miles of big wide flatwater where they used to back up the logs they floated down from the lakes we had just come from. There is nothing worthwhile about this stretch. There is a fun CII through Whitneyville, then a mix of flatwater and a few light CIIs over the last 5 miles into Machias. The take out is literally just upstream of the falls. After loading up and getting changed we headed for Belfast on Rt 1 where we had supper at Darby’s, then on down to Portland that night. Back to VA on the 10th.

We used the AMC Maine guide book & enlarged maps out of the ME Gazeteer which I will scan and post here at some point, or email to Charles so he can get them on cartespleinaire.

Author:  Paddle Power [ October 28th, 2014, 12:57 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Machias River - 4th Lake --> Machias (town) May 2014

By your crew statement, I take it the four of you were all paddling solo.

I'm always surprised at the draw for people to paddle large canoes solo. The is a real romance to seeing a 16 or 17 footer being paddled solo.

Author:  littleredcanoe [ October 28th, 2014, 2:18 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Machias River - 4th Lake --> Machias (town) May 2014

Did you pole? Many Maine trippers use tandems and a pole in the rapids. Standing of course.

Author:  VA paddler [ October 28th, 2014, 8:02 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Machias River - 4th Lake --> Machias (town) May 2014

Paddle Power - Yes, we prefer paddling the long boats solo. We like to live well, and solo canoes offer us more room for all the comforts of home, and makes everyone a little more responsible for their own fate in the whitewater, and makes the larger whitewater a bit easier to run.

This is something we are grappling with as a team as we consider paddling longer stretches that are only accessible by plane. I'd like to get out to the Mountain or the Nahanni or the Bloodvein in the next few years, but not a fan of paddling tandem, and seems the more boats you bring, the higher the price tag gets for the plane shuttle. I'd welcome any thoughts along those lines or how to pack enough good food to get through a 2-3 week trip without resorting to dehydrated meals or oatmeal.

LittleRedCanoe - have fooled with poling, but never very successfully.

Author:  littleredcanoe [ October 28th, 2014, 10:16 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Machias River - 4th Lake --> Machias (town) May 2014

PakCanoe. No need for an external haul or nesting boats. ... Itemid=147

Food is easy. Dehydrate your own. There is an entire forum here devoted to that

12-20 days is easy without meal repetition.

Author:  Paddle Power [ October 29th, 2014, 12:29 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Machias River - 4th Lake --> Machias (town) May 2014

The Pakcanoe is a good idea. I've been using one for years.

Another idea is to nest canoes (put a 16 footer inside a 17 footer) for the flight in.

You could also look for an outfitter that has canoes positioned on the land/at the put-in. This saves flying in with all the canoes.

Many people pack fresh food for a 2 to 3 week trip, many others pack dry food. I'm more of a dry food tripper so I'll let others chime in on the fresh food ideas.

Taking a canoe poling course would lead to better poling success. See the Find a course page at the Paddle Canada site (you can filter for canoe poling, etc.): ... ourse.html

Author:  littleredcanoe [ October 29th, 2014, 2:15 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Machias River - 4th Lake --> Machias (town) May 2014

if the OP is interested this is probably a lot closer to Virginia..( though some parts of ON are just up 81 from Harrisonburg)

Author:  Frankr [ November 4th, 2014, 6:00 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Machias River - 4th Lake --> Machias (town) May 2014

VA Paddler,

I noticed you used enlarged maps from the ME Gazetteer, which I use as well.

Recently, I have started taking "snips" from Google Earth, which depending on the area can also be very useful. Because they are digitized, you can print several copies.

I also purchased an inexpensive laminator. Laminating maps has been a real upgrade. Obviously, you just don't need to worry anymore about them getting wet and crumpled.

If you ever get to put in at 5th lake, the fishing for brook trout is excellent between 5th and 4th lakes. It is a very nice little stream to paddle.


Author:  VA paddler [ November 10th, 2014, 10:25 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Machias River - 4th Lake --> Machias (town) May 2014

Frankr - Yes, when I'm paddling with home-printed maps, I laminate and keep in a dry-mapcase. I look forward to seeing 5th Lake some day.

PaddlePower & Littleredcanoe - Do those Pakboats really hold up? Can you put them through tough whitewater and bounce them off rocks when you need to? Can you cook on top of them? I'm intrigued by the idea, but feel like I'd wreck one quickly. I do like the idea of nesting boats for a flight - saw the video link Ken Kansas posted for the Pigeon & his crew did that - makes perfect sense.

Speaking of the Pigeon - can anyone out there compare the Bloodvein to the Pigeon to the Mistassibi? We did the Mistassibi 2 years ago - loved every minute of it (except for the 6 portages on Day 1), and are ready to head north again. Waiting for Wilson's book to arrive to see the maps. Will also ask this question on the Manitoba page.

Thanks, all.

Author:  littleredcanoe [ November 11th, 2014, 8:00 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Machias River - 4th Lake --> Machias (town) May 2014

The Pakcanoes are not a toy. They are meant for whitewater. They ride more like a raft and flex.. not a good choice for flatwater.

On the Mountain you should be able to ride up and over rocks. What they do not do well is drag over gravel bars. If you have a shallow river, not the best choice.

None of your candidate rivers fits those criteria.

Its a poor idea to cook on one. Mike Mc Crea has plans for a table that fits a 60 liter barrel lid for cooking. Don't know if he posted it here.. You can pm me for the website.

Author:  Paddle Power [ November 12th, 2014, 2:25 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Machias River - 4th Lake --> Machias (town) May 2014

Christian asked,
1. Do those Pakboats really hold up?
On the tough side, they are like a zodiac boot, a tough bottom hull. The sidewall material is not tough compared to the bottom hull. They are pretty easy to repair in the fields as well as at home. I've run Class IV (tandem) water water without issue. I've dragged them up and down shallow rivers as well as over tundra and frozen lakes. With expedition use, the inner foam floor lining deteriorates/wears where it is in contact with the stick frame but again, easy to repair or replace.

2. Can you put them through tough whitewater and bounce them off rocks when you need to?
I've paddled many rapids (mostly CI to III but up to CIV) and have only bent a couple of the stick frame pieces from hitting rocks over several years of long trip use. I have not replace any of the frame. The bent sections are all still working fine. The hull is not sticky so it slides over rocks but it does not bounce off rocks like a hard shell boat.

3. Can you cook on top of them? I have not nor have I seen others doing this. I did cook on top of my hard shell canoe once a long time ago and damaged the hull. You could layout a kitchen on top but you would have to have some sort of a base plate under a hot one-burner cook stove otherwise the downward heat could damage the hull. I'd use a pakcanoe as a canoe and look elsewhere if you wish for a tabletop.

I see them as a wonderful way to travel on water, including up and down rivers, across big lakes, dragging over frozen lakes, and so on, but they are different from hard shell canoes.

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