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Adventurous start on the Allagash River

On a six night seven day canoe adventure on the Allagash River, the trip did not take long for the adventures to take place. When you are out in the wilderness for six nights, you know that there will be some difficult moments and most likely some bad weather. On a canoe trip, bad weather comes in the form of head wind and rain. The Allagash River threw both at us in the first two days.

Allagash River

Spectacular scenery on the Allagash River

Big lakes on the Allagash River

I had no idea what to expect with this trip. I did see a Maine Rivers presentation from Bull Moose Patrol at Canoecopia, but you never really know what you are in for until the paddle is in the water. The first surprise for me was that the beginning of our trip consisted of some big lakes. I guess that is why the area is referred to as the Allagash Wilderness Waterway as well as the Allagash River.

Allagash Wilderness Waterway

Paddling some big water on the Allagash Wilderness Waterway

The first two days saw us paddle through Chamberlain, Eagle, and Churchill Lakes. The waterway does narrow into a river beyond Churchill Dam, but we did not enter this phase until the third day. We began under partly cloudy skies. We initially had little wind. I am not sure if this was because we were protected in our initial paddle or if the wind picked up later in the day.

Allagash Canoe trips Lani Cochrane

Lani from Allagash Canoe Trips on our first day’s adventure

Three registered Maine guides and ten other paddlers begin

Our group consisted of 13 paddlers including three registered Maine guides. Chip and Lani Cochrane were our official guides as they own and operate Allagash Canoe Trips. Scott Oeth from Bull Moose Patrol is also a Maine guide, and he helped set up and recruit paddlers from the Minneapolis region. We also had a few paddlers from the Southeast region who signed up through either Scott’s Facebook or directly through Chip and Lani.

Allagash River wilderness

Quick paddling instruction from Chip as we begin our Allagash River wilderness adventure

Our first put in option was a creek that was too low to paddle, so we jumped back in the bus and headed to an alternative put-in. We were paired up and provided paddles. I was in the stern and given a beautiful wooden paddle with a big handle.

Allagash River rain

Preparing for rain on the Allagash River

Head winds and a rain squall

The sun soon left us and was replaced with clouds that turned into a driving rain storm. Fortunately, it did not last long, but it seemed like the rain brought on the wind. We had to play around a bit with the paddling partners to make sure we were all evenly matched. A few canoes had trouble keeping up in the strong headwind that developed, which was understandable because it was not easy dealing with the wind in the big lakes. We also had one canoe do an oh no moment and capsize in the wind. Fortunately, they were able to right themselves without too much trouble.

Allagash River

Taking a break from the strong winds on the Allagash River

It soon dawned on Chip and Lani that we would not make our initial campsite with the strong wind, so we looked for alternatives across the lake. The wind was kicking up, so we had a tough paddle across the lake to our first campsite. It just so happened that the first campsite included a great view of Mt. Katahdin and Baxter State Park. Just two days prior, I was almost on top of this famous mountain. On top of Mt. Hamline I could see a distant waterway and lakes, which was the Allagash Wilderness Waterway.

Mt. Katahdin

Mount Katahdin hidden in the clouds in the distance

Allagash River Baxter State Park

Allagash Wilderness Water seen in the distance from Baxter State Park

We had the good the bad, but no ugly

Despite the tough conditions on the first day, the scenery was beautiful. The hills surrounding the waterway were on fire with orange, reds, and yellows with a little pine thrown in. Fall color was in full swing in the Maine wilderness.

Fall colors Allagash River

Fall colors on the Allagash Wilderness Waterway

Allagash Wilderness Waterway

Drying out after a rain storm on the first day

No portages but. . . . .

We did not have any portages, so we could load the Old Town Canoes with a ton of provisions. Each canoe had a wanigan, which was a big wooden box with handles that fit in the middle. We also each had a personal pack with our tent, sleeping bag, clothes, and other personal provisions. My bag had a bottle of whiskey and two bottles of Popov vodka. I like the fancy stuff.

Beaver dam

Intricate beaver dam with even some rocks included

On the second day we did have to push the canoes through a shallow stream and up and over a beaver dam. This took about a half hour. Later we had to carry our canoes over a small portage. Instead of carrying our equipment individually, we just teamed up and carried the canoes with everything in them. It took four to six of us to carry each canoe. While these were not tough Boundary Waters like portages, they did add to the tough first couple of days where we had to paddle through tough headwinds and rain.

Allagash River

Amazing food served on top of the wooden wanigans on the Allagash River

The food was even better

Since we had not major portages, we had the luxury of carrying an extensive stash of food. Allagash Canoe Trips excels with a great menu. We had three incredible meals each day. The first night we enjoyed steaks and fresh salad. We began the first morning with blueberry pancakes and consumed eggs, bacon, and fried potatoes the first morning out on the river. We were even treated to baked cakes in a reflector oven including a carrot, a chocolate cake, and even a strawberry shortcake.

Allagash River canoeing

Day two started off beautiful, but the weather soon deteriorated

The weather takes a turn for the worse

We had rain and wind the first day, but the rain only lasted a short while. The second day the rain began around noon and continued into the night. Everyone pretty much got soaked. Fortunately, we made most of our miles in the morning before it started to really come down. It never really poured, but it was just a dreary, miserable day.

Allagash River rain

Ominous skies portend future rains

We paddled in about an hour of rain before we made camp. We put up the tarps and hunkered down. It did let up a little at one point, and we made a move to put up our tents. We even managed to have a bit of a campfire in the rain before turning in.

Bullmoose Patrol Allagash River

Bull Moose Patrol waiting out the rain

Rain, wind, and no moose

The first two days could be summarized with rain, headwinds, and no moose. No one who is canoeing in Maine wishes for conditions like this. One moose would have made things a lot more tolerable. Fortunately, we scored big on that front over the next couple of days.

Spoiler alert: Moose madness on the Allagash River

Allagash River camp

Getting water in the rain on the Allagash River

Forecast calls for an end in the rain, warmer, sunnier, and then colder

The extended forecast called for an end to the rain followed by a warmer sunnier day, then colder sunnier days. After a day of rain, the weather forecast looked great. The next day we were to paddle through Chase Rapids, so a warm sunny day was just the ticket for this next stretch. Plus, we definitely needed to dry out.

Allagash River rainstorm

On the first couple of days on the Allagash we got the good the bad, but never the ugly

Allagash River

We did some bonding under the tarp on the Allagash Wilderness Waterway

Despite the tough first days, everyone’s morale was high. Perhaps it was the scenery, the tremendous food, or perhaps the fact we had plenty of booze left. I think we all felt a sense of accomplishment for making it through some tough conditions and looked forward to what the trip would bring us next.

Allagash Wilderness Waterway camping

More team camaraderie on the Allagash Wilderness Waterway

If this trip interests you (and believe me it got way better) then check out Allagash Canoe Trips for a true Maine adventure. The trip was awesome and future posts will attest to this fact. Also, check out the Bull Moose Patrol website and Facebook page.

Adventure on!

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