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PostPosted: September 26th, 2010, 9:50 am 
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Joined: June 20th, 2001, 7:00 pm
Posts: 29
Location: Fairfax, Virginia USA
The Moose River Bow Trip near Jackman, Maine – Solo canoe trip
9:20 AM, September 13, 2010 to 11:30 AM, September 15, 2010

It rained, my canoe leaked, my boots leaked, my rain pants leak, my kitchen tarp leaked. Boy, I had a great time!!!! Temperature ranged from 45 degrees F at night and morning, up to 55 degrees F during the day. Mostly cloudy, but the sun peeked out during the day on the second day. At night, the sky cleared and the stars were bright. Each morning before I got up, it rained. It also rained each afternoon just as I was getting to camp, and of course off and on during the day.

My general philosophy for outdoor activities worked – do everything you can to keep yourself and your gear dry, but plan on being wet. Dry wool socks and shoes in camp at night feel great.

From when I left to when I got back to the starting point, I did not see anyone else. My canoe is a Richardson Aquacraft or Rilco 15 ½ foot wood and canvas. It weighs about 50 or so pounds, except on the portage where it gains an addition 50 pounds. It needs recanvasing, but I’m too busy canoeing. Along with my two paddles, I brought along my 12-foot lodgepole pine pole with a spike on one end. It was a nice break from paddling to be able to stand and use some different muscles at times.

Things I learned on the trip:
• A Maine Guide I met at the put in recommends leaving by 5:30 AM to miss the winds on Attean Pond. I left at 9:20 AM and there was some wind but not too bad.
• Portages are all well marked except the first one at Attean Falls.
• Campsites marked except the one between Spencer Rips and Attean Falls, I didn’t see the sign for it.
• Coming from Attean Falls onto Attean Lake there was a strong Northwest wind. 1 to 2-foot waves until Birch Island. I tried to hide behind the various islands but had to cross some open areas. If it was much stronger I probably wouldn’t have been able to paddle against it. May want to plan to camp at Attean Falls and get an early start for the last leg.
• Due to low water I had to make about 4 extra small unmarked carries.
• Fire permits are easy to obtain by calling the Maine Forest Service. Camp fires are permitted at designated campsite and only with a permit which may be obtained locally or you can call the Maine Forest service at 1 800 750 9777. You tell them where and when you’re going, and they give you a permit number over the phone.
• General links about the trip are at the end of this report.
• I went solo and should have given myself more time. I ended up pushing most of the time and had long days. An extra half a day would have been more relaxing. It still was fun.
• Bugs weren’t bad. Each night a few mosquitoes came and visited me, but I didn’t even put any repellant on. Kinda amazing as it’s all swampy along the river.

September 13, 2010
Mile 0 - Launch at the end of Attean Rd. outside of Jackman, Maine. There was a parking area for those doing the trip a bit before the put in. I was being dropped off so I didn’t have to worry about it. I think the parking lot at the put in is for the resort on Birch Island. This was its last week the resort was to be open for the season.

Nice paddle across Attean Pond. Saw some loons who sang to me off and on. Was able to use my pole in some shallow areas. Wind was Southerly but it didn’t bother me too much. Nice camping areas along both ponds.


The cloudy and misty weather was with me most of the trip. The above picture is looking at the bay on the West end of Attean Pond. Once I was in that bay had a nice following wind. Also as I neared the shore got to do some surfing on small waves.

Mile 4.75 – On the West end of the Attean Pond, at the end of the bay is the portage. As mentioned above it was marked with a sign. The portage starts just North of some large rocks on the beach (see the picture below).


The carry is 1.2 miles according to the sign. Of course, as you carry your stuff across, it seems like 50 miles all uphill. I’ve read some folks follow the train tracks across but it’s not recommended as the tracks are active and are private property. I followed the portage trail until it reached a gravel road. There was a portage sign there pointing to the right, so I started going down a small trail there, well it was a drainage and I soon figured out it wasn’t the trail. Went back to the road, crossed the train tracks and found the trail on the other side. From there it wasn’t too far to Holeb Pond. Then I went back for the canoe. Ah, the best part of the portage, after you get all your gear over and take a break. Note, when the planking is wet, some of it is very slippery as I found out. Took one slip with the canoe down to my knees. Not fun. The picture below is the non-scenic railroad crossing, portage trail over the tracks to the left.


Mile 9.25 – I crossed Holeb Pond. I hugged the South side due to the wind and to find Holeb Stream. Didn’t have any problems finding the inlet. There was some driftwood markers on either side of it, one with some orange tape. Going down the zigzag steam was nice. Current was slow. I understand there may be other outlets from Holeb Pond, but I don’t remember seeing any other streams coming into Holeb Stream.

Mile 10.25 – Holeb Stream joins Moose River. The current was quicker on Moose River and the water clearer. The upper reaches of Moose River have some shallow areas and I was able to pole a lot. I think it was after Camel Rips or so, the River got pretty deep so unless I hugged a shore I wasn’t able to pole.

Below is on the Moose River.



I camped at the first campsite on the Moose River (there are designated campsites where you have to camp) by Barrett Brook. Saw the only moose on the trip right at the camp – a cow and calf. She was eating and stayed awhile as I set up camp in the rain. Had a good night. When I got up at night, it had cleared. Stars everywhere. Of course, when I was getting up in the morning, it was pouring. I slept in my Hennessy Hammock. Comfortable and dry as always.

The next morning I went up Barrett Brook, nice poling Brook, but turned around after 5 beaver dams. Pole, stop, get out, haul canoe over, get in, pole, stop, get out, haul canoe over, get in, etc.

Beaver dam on Barrett Brook

Mile 14 – Paddled and poled down to Camel Rips. This looked like a nice campsite. Where I camped was nice but this one seemed nicer.

Camel Rips from the campsite. The portage was just carrying the canoe and gear over the rocks. Not sure if you can tell, but it’s raining hard.

On the way to Holeb Falls is a little rip I tried to pole through (could have just paddled) and decided to see if my boots leaked. Lost my balance, put the gunnel in the water and my legs. That’s when I found out my boots leaked. As a matter of fact, the stitching from the rubber bottoms to leather tops had finally given out on the heels. Gosh, and I only had these L.L. Bean boots for 22 year, and have worn them a lot. Wrung out my socks and moved on.

The little rip where I slipped

Mile 18.5 – After a while, I was getting near the Holeb Falls Portage. The River branch to the left of the island above the falls, the on to take, had a beaver dam across it. Had to make a couple of small carries, one up and over a steep hill. Went through some areas with large boulder, some in the river, but was easily able to go around them.

Followed the instructions, I was looking for a small channel to the left. Saw one but there was no portage sign and it didn’t look like a portage area, but as I didn’t want to have to retrace my steps, I went up it and looked around to make sure there was not trail. Don’t be fooled like I was, the real portage area is well marked. There was a bunch of logs blocking the river so you can’t go past the portage area. At the portage area, there was some logs blocking the small channel to the left, so you have to carry every over to the small channel. Canoe to the end of the channel, then portage around the falls.

The campsites at the end of the portage and across the river looked nice but I had to move on.

Mile 19.75 – Paddled on to Mosquito Rips, a short drop. Nice campsites here also, but had to keep moving.

My loaded canoe

Mile 23.75 – Made it to Spencer Rips where I spent the night. At the site of a bridge that has long since been torn down, the river narrows to get by the abutments. At lower water one mid river rock is known for eating boats. This rip is easy to scout from the right side. Portages and camps are on either side. I chose the left side. Stairways lead to both portage/camps. Nice night. Again, clear night with many stars. When I woke up I was thinking it will be nice to put the tarp away drier then the day before. Then it started to rain again. Oh will, still having fun.
Breakfast and tea and then on my way. I was being picked up at Noon, so I had to get moving. Left at 6:30.

The leaky tarp (ok, just some of the seams leaked)

Early morning on the Moose

Paddling downstream was nice, except when the channel was heading North. Oh, oh, Northerly wind, how will it be on Attean Pond. Nice paddling, deep water. I generally kept track of where was by the monitoring the bends in the river, but could pinpoint whenever I reached a campsite (they had signs). When I didn’t see the campsite between Spencer Rips and Attean Falls, I started to become discouraged. Was I really paddling that slowly that I hadn’t even passed the campsite???? Finally I spotted a landing on the left side but no sign and then some rapids. I looked around for a way to carry around, but it was too rocky. I paddled through the rapids, they weren’t too bad, more shallow then fast. Scrapped a little here and there.

Mile 30.25 – Then finally, I saw the portage sign on the right and was at Attean Falls and the rapids I just passed was the upper carry. I took out at the campsite, but about 100 feet downstream is another takeout that shortens the walk.

Boot repair

Mile 31.75 – Made it to Attean Pond. Strong Northwest wind with 1 foot waves. It was shallow and weedy, so I tried poling but the bottom was too mucky. The pole kept sinking and sticking in the muck. Paddled to the lee of the islands where I could. Wind was gusty and it would blow me off course. Once it pushed me off course and to one of the shores. I poled up along the shore until I was able to head Northerly again. I finally took off my portage rig so I could knee in the center of the canoe. With the weight forward, I was able to paddle better into the wind. After getting around the smaller islands, I aimed for Birch Island. The waves were 1 to 2 feet at that time. The canoe handled the waves well, only some spray made it into the canoe. As I mentioned above, if it was much windier, I may not have been able to paddle against it.

When I neared Birch Island and could see the landing to the East, the waves calmed down. The fetch was small enough the wind and waves calmed some. I was able to head East to the landing. A little island on the way to the landing.

The Happy Paddler

Mile 34 –Got to the landing at 11:30 AM and my ride was waiting. Great trip.

The Maine Guide at the landing recommended Mamma Bear (I think that was the name) for good home cooking. It is the first restaurant on the left going North through Jackman. The burger and fries were great.

Various links about the trip:

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