Summer Journal Day 6
Thursday, August 6
If it were not for writing in this journal I suppose I wouldn’t know what day it was. We had a nice fire last night. There is so much dead wood lying around we don’t have any trouble finding firewood. We have an ax and a saw, but have rarely had to use them. In some places there are piles of slash that have been left behind after logging. This stuff is usually well seasoned and we are able to help ourselves.
Dinner last night was just snacks. Neither of us felt much like cooking. Chris had a piece of apple pie and I had some peanuts and we shared some crackers and cheese. While we munched we played chess. I won.
Mike told us we might get some rain today, but so far nothing. There are a few clouds that look like the fair weather variety overhead, but it is mostly blue sky. It got cold again last night. It’s crazy for August, but I could see my breath in the cool air. The cold woke us up during the night. I was able to wrap-up a little tighter in my bag and get back to sleep. Chris was cold too, but pulled the bag over his head and that seemed to work. It’s a bit chilly this morning. We’re wearing our fleece pullovers. I made some coffee and that is helping to warm me up. Chris is still inside his sleeping bag. I’m planning to make eggs, corned beef hash and juice for breakfast once he gets up.
Last night we talked about where to go next. We really have the entire North Maine Woods at our disposal. I asked Chris to pick a spot on the map, to find some rivers and streams he’d like to fish and that’s where we’d head next. He doesn’t enjoy setting up and breaking camp. It’s work. Our tent is 11×15 feet and inside we have five rugs that we use to cushion the floor so that we can walk around without stepping on rocks. We sleep on cots in our sleeping bags and we each have a wool blanket if needed. Chris has two pillows and I have three. It’s a pretty plush set up and quite comfortable, but requires some work every time we move. Sometimes I think we’re a traveling circus.
We also have a folding table that we set between our cots. We use it to play cribbage or cards on inside the tent at night. When we go bed we set our lantern on the table to read by. I also keep my air horn under the cot in case we get any visitors in the night. But we’ve been very careful about keeping the camp clean and never eat in the tent.
I’d just as soon stay on the move. Since we have no itinerary any longer, I’d like to do some exploring and just see what we can find. We’re getting to the point where we can tell if an area might be too wet just by looking at the map. If Chris wants to do some driving, we’ll have to move around. The North Maine Woods is 3.5 millions acres. We can knock around in here for a long time before we start to see the same place twice.
This place is truly a haven for bugs; they rule and affect nearly everything you do. There are so many different kinds of bugs that it seems once the mosquitoes quit for the day another kind of tiny vampire takes over. Regardless of the time of day or the weather, we’re always under assault from these voracious biters. And then there is the kind that just swam around your head. They don’t bite but do enjoy flying into you ears, eyes, nose and mouth. We spit bugs all day. If Maine was to have a state bug, it would have to be either the black fly or mosquito.
Our food supplies are holding out fine. I brought extra, I always do just in case. But skipping a couple of meals has left us with a lot more than we’ll eat. It’s a good thing we were able to get more ice as we still have perishables.
Right now I think our plan is to leave Deboullie tomorrow by the Hewes Brook Road heading southeast. We’ll actually pass close to the town of Portage and may leave the woods to gas up and get more ice before turning west for our 100 mile run over to the St. John River.
Thursday, August 6
We just finished a nice late breakfast of two eggs each and corned beef hash. Chris thinks it’s still too windy to fish out on the pond.
While gathering wood for the fire, Chris found an alder stick that looks just like the walking sticks they were selling at Two Rivers for $20. He went back into the woods for more firewood and I took out my knife and began whittling my new Allagash walking stick.
Thursday, August 6
The sun is playing games with us, shinning one minute, hiding behind gray clouds the next. I can’t figure out what the weather will do.
We had some bagels and cream cheese for lunch. I also had some green olives.
We took a 40 minute paddle on Perch Pond. The surface of the pond was calm, but there was some wind. I’m not a fisherman, but it seems to me that you could cast a line. The wind isn’t that strong.
The pond is shallow near the dam, but gets deep as you paddle over to the east end. There isn’t another person within sight or hearing. The older couple on the other side of the pond left. I think Deboullie is empty with the exception of us.
I sat in my chair at the dam this afternoon and enjoyed the warm sun. The air is dry for a change, not too many bugs, and it just felt nice to sit quietly. I read some from a book I brought by Thoreau. It’s the perfect setting to think about his ideas on nature and the Maine woods. He says at times, when alone he felt that all heaven and earth belonged to him. I don’t know where Chris has gone, but right now I can relate to how Thoreau felt. For me there is just the trickling of water past the small wooden dam and the faint rustling of the leaves in the breeze.
I watched a small bird hopping from stone to stone pecking away in the shallow water by the dam, searching for its noonday meal. It didn’t notice me as it walked across the dam before flying away.
This afternoon Chris and I went for a walk that lasted just over an hour. It felt good to stretch our legs. We had considered climbing Deboullie Mountain, but decided against it. Chris brought his fly rod along. We stopped beside a pond and he had a few casts, but without any luck.
It’s always exciting to walk quietly through the woods or down a lonely back road. You never know what you’ll find or what woodland residents you may encounter. We did spook a partridge, which made quite a commotion in letting us know that we weren’t welcome.
We stopped at Togue Pond and again Chris had a few casts. There was a lean-to here for camping, but too far off the road for us with all our gear.
We’re back in camp now and Chris is reading. He brought along the one book he has for summer reading, “Life As We Knew It” by Susan Beth Pfeffer. It’s a story about a family in Pennsylvania and how they manage to survive after the moon is struck by an asteroid and knocked out of its orbit and closer to earth. I’m going to use this time to organize our gear, once again. It seems I’m always picking up and repacking. Thoreau had it right; Simplify, Simplify, Simplify.
It is beginning to look like rain tonight, so we’ll plan on it. We’ll put the canoe back on the truck and pack things away so that what we can keep dry will be dry when we break camp in the morning.
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