Summer Journal Day 4
Tuesday, August 4
We had a good night last night, but it got cold. We have good camp bags, Chris has a 10 degree bag and mine is a 20 degree bag, but we both were awake in the night with the cold. I put on a heavy fleece and some socks and was able to fall back to sleep. Chris is going to dig out our thermometer just in case we get another of these cold nights.
Last night before bed we hauled a big bucket of water up from the river and took sponge baths. We couldn’t jump in the river as it drops off quickly and has a bit of a current. There is a gravel bar that Chris though he’d try swim to, but if he missed, I suppose he end up somewhere down the river.
Later we sat by the fire and star-gazed for a while before bed, but there was a full moon and the sky was too bright to see a lot. We picked out the Big Dipper and just sat and marveled over the rest.
It is a beautiful morning, sunny and cool with just the hint of a breeze. So far there is no humidity or bugs to complain about. I made eggs, sausage and fried potatoes for breakfast along with coffee and juice. After eating we discussed our plan. Last night we burned our itinerary. It’s useless and made for good kindling. We decided to spend another night here and then continue east into Ashland for gas. Chris hauled a big bucket of water up from the river to wash the dishes and pans. He then went fishing, but was quickly back. His fly rod snapped. Now we have even more of a reason to go to Ashland tomorrow. He needs a new rod. Right now he is in the woods somewhere gathering wood for tonight’s fire. I’m finishing up another cup of coffee, and then I’ll do the breakfast dishes and reorganize our gear. It’s remarkable how quickly things get mixed up and become impossible to find.
Tuesday, August 4
We spent most of the morning repacking and organizing. I must be really losing it as it seems I can’t find anything. We had peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch with some chips. We then sat in the sun and played cribbage and Chris won. It’s now mid afternoon and we’re just relaxing.
We are quite a bit northeast of where we had planned to be right now. All this rain has left so many washouts and flooded areas that it wasn’t until we got here yesterday that we found a fairly dry spot.
Chris seems comfortable being in the woods. He runs down to the river to fish whenever the mood strikes him. He wandered off exploring not too long ago and was on the other side of the river. I couldn’t find him and he didn’t answer my calls. I got worried after awhile, what with the fast current I was afraid he might have gotten into the water and be down stream. It’s at times like this that all the worst possible scenarios run through your head. I had an air horn in the truck, so I let go with a blast on that and within a couple of minutes he came running into camp to see what the problem was.
“I was just wondering where you were,” I said. He didn’t seem concerned at all and turned to go back. I stopped him to explain a parent’s concern. We made a joke of it and back to the river he ran, broken fishing pole in hand.
It has been two days with no rain. I hope I’m not jinxing it. The roads have returned to dust and my truck has gone from being caked with mud to wearing a fine coat of light brown dust. It’s our Red Badge of Courage out here. Only the people that work in the woods can boast of such a dirty truck.
There have been no bugs today. Yesterday morning at Caucomgomoc Dam we were swarmed with a cloud of mosquitoes. Our new plan is to go into Ashland tomorrow and get Chris a new fly rod. He is really lost without the full pole. He is trying to fish with a half pole. Sometimes, he tells me, it’s actually easier to cast along the river with the shorter pole. While in town we’ll pick up some more ice and gas up. We have a lot of wet things still and if we find a laundromat, maybe we’ll do some laundry. From now on I think we’ll just take it a day at a time based on the time and weather.
Tuesday, August 4
I’m sitting beside Mooseleuk Stream by the bridge on Pinkham Road. This afternoon Frank and Joey, a couple of workers for the North Maine Woods came by our camp. We got to talking and offered them a cold drink. Frank is what you would picture as the typical woodsman. He’s probably in his 50’s, short, with salt and pepper hair and a big, bushy gray beard. He wears a checkered shirt, floppy brimmed hat and orange suspenders. Joey, who looked about 18 years old, asked Chris about fishing and Chris showed him his broken pole. Joey offered a couple of ideas about a temporary fix and then said that even with the short pole it would be possible to fish. He then told Chris about a fishing hole where he had recently caught some big trout.
After Frank and Joey left I asked Chris if he wanted to take a ride to Joey’s fishing hole back up the Pinkham Road at Mooseleuk Stream. He immediately nodded yes.
Naturally I made a wrong turn and ended up driving up Jack Mountain Road which had some fairly active logging going on. We ran across several large trucks, including a 14 foot wide which the paper companies only run on their logging roads as they are too wide for the public road. These things will force you off the road as they drive just as fast as they can down the middle of the road and actually take most of it up. You can’t tell from the dust cloud if it’s a regular truck or a 14-footer coming, but either way the safe thing to do is get as far off the road as possible.
We turned around, found the Pinkham Road and went back about 20 miles to the Mooseleuk, which in Abenaki means “moose place.”
It was a fairly big stream at the point where we stopped to fish, about 20 yards wide. Broken rod and all Chris ran down the bank to the water and immediately began to cast. He worked his way along the bank for about 20 minutes and then crossed the Pinkham Road Bridge and fished the opposite bank for another 20 minutes. He did alright with his broken rod. He said he had nine strikes, but wasn’t able to land any. He thinks he had the wrong size fly on his line.
Frank and Joey said that there were no spots in Ashland or Portage to get a replacement rod that we’d have to go another 20 miles over to Presque Isle. I mentioned Fort Kent and they said certainly there would be a place there, but it was far away and they weren’t sure. Since we have to go to some town in the morning for gas, ice and a fly rod, why not Fort Kent. That way we could visit friends in Allagash that we had met two years ago when we canoed the waterway.
Tuesday, August 4
We’re back from the Mooseleuk, no luck, but Chris had fun. We made dinner. Tonight we baked pizza in our oven. It came out pretty good. I had some cherry pie for dessert and Chris baked a chocolate and carmel brownie, which came out very good. Both desserts hit the spot after our eight inch pizzas.
Chris had a mink jump out of the bushes in front of him as he was piling firewood for that night’s fire. He wasn’t sure what it was at first, but checked our guide book and sure enough, it was a mink. They are common along river banks and in wet areas in the North Maine Woods and are trapped in the winter.
Still determined to catch fish, Chris walked down to the Machias and dropped in a fly while I cleaned up after dinner. I took another sponge bath. I was putting things away and cleaning up the camp for the night when Chris came walking down the road giving me a big thumbs up. He had caught an eight inch fish and released it. He has been carrying a tape measure for just such an occasion.
Tomorrow we’ll go to Fort Kent and get him a new rod and maybe he’ll catch more. Right now he is outside taking a sponge bath while I sit here in the tent. We’re going to have a fire later and stargaze. We are hoping for an early start tomorrow.
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