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Allagash Lake Maine

Discussion in 'Places to Paddle' started by lotsoluck, Jul 18, 2010.

  1. Fitz

    Fitz Wooden Canoes are in the Blood

    Mud Pond Carry

    The Plan is to do it Friday. Will report back, assuming we get back.:p
  2. Kevin French

    Kevin French Paddler

    Good luck Fitz, may your blowdowns be few to none at all.
  3. Fitz

    Fitz Wooden Canoes are in the Blood

    Mud Pond Carry

    We just got back. I'll post some additional info later.

    The Mud Pond Carry.....take Thoreau's description from 1857, or maybe John McPhee's and add 6 inches to a foot of additional water and that pretty much sums up the current conditions. :D
  4. MGC

    MGC Scrapmaker

    That should make it easier to locate....always a challenge.
    How about blowdowns as sucky muddy water to your knees is kind of expected albeit not for the entire slog.
  5. Fitz

    Fitz Wooden Canoes are in the Blood


    We did have some trouble finding the start of the carry on Umbazooksus. We looked for obvious features and I programmed coordinates I had pulled from a map for the start of the carry into my GPS, but we ended up a quarter of a mile off. I haven't figured out what the issue was yet. Bad coordinates or bad GPS or operator error. There is no sign on either end. There were a few stacked boulders in Umbazooksus marking the carry. Also look for the "stream" in the carry entering the lake!

    The carry is approximately 1.8 miles, if you can do it in one pass.

    There were half a dozen or so recent blowdowns requiring breaking off of branches and stepping over. In one instance, I laid the Prospector on the blow down, snuck under and then pulled the canoe over. I believe the Mud Pond Carry is now traversed by snowmobiles in the winter, so it is kept fairly clear.

    The biggest issue with the carry is that the worn path is very narrow, so you are walking in a water filled ditch. It has a hard bottom, but there are a many locations where you sink through the moose muck a ways until you hit solid bottom. You can't step out of the ditch easily, especially carrying a canoe, because it is easy to slip and fall off the banks of the ditch back into the ditch.

    The water depth ranged from ankle deep to thigh deep the whole way. Frogs were breeding in the carry. The last few hundred feet or so were thigh deep. I dropped the canoe off the shoulders and floated it from there.

    You can see the water flow change direction over the divide between the Allagash and Penobscot watersheds. We were glad to see it change direction.

    My son and I pretty much two-tripped the carry, Brendan with some gear and me alternating between canoe and gear, leapfrogging as we went. It took us 3.5 hours to finish. My buddy and his son had a bigger canoe and more gear and it took them 4.5 hours. It was hard work. We were blessed with no bugs. If the blackflies were in season you may be anemic when done.

    As mentioned previously, I suspect the carry has changed very little. It has been protected in a corridor. People have been sloggin' through here for at least centuries. A very tough carry, but I think it was worth the trip.

  6. MGC

    MGC Scrapmaker

    Excellent update.
    It sounds like the water is up a bit but it sounds like a perfect description of the carry as I remember it from 35 years ago. Incredible.
    What makes the carry so hard to find is that the entry is unlike anything you would ever expect.
    It's amazing that in the 160 plus years that we know of this carry that the memories it leaves are still the same....
    It's a carry everyone that canoes should have under their belt.
    Next time someone talks to you about using wheels you can smile.
    It's memorable.
  7. Mike Everett

    Mike Everett Maine Canoeist

    I paddled into Allagash Lake last weekend and took the opportunity to check out the three routes into the lake.

    Previously I wrote (in #14) that the carry trail from Round Pond to the south end of Allagash Lake is 2 1/3 miles, which is correct. However, one can drive most of the way in; the gate is 0.8 miles from the lake. There is a small parking area at the gate. The trail is used by the rangers for vehicle access, so a wheeled cart can be used all the way into the lake.

    This year, we put-in at Johnson Pond in high water, well above average flows. This was an easy passage, but in low water a lot of wading and dragging would be necessary along this route. The pond seems an inexhaustible mudhole and the narrow little stream twists tightly through a patch of alders, which have been trimmed in most spots. The going is easy from the mouth of Johnson Pond Brook to the lake.

    Currently (ca. June 3, 2011) the road past Johnson Pond into the Allagash Stream put-in is flooded, as it often is when beavers are active and water levels are high. (When water levels drop, the road is often passable despite nearby beaver dams.) The put-in is next to the road, and even when water levels are low enough to require a bit of wading, the channels are obvious and the stream bed is firm. The put-in on the stream above the lake is, in my opinion, the route of least effort in all water levels, when the road is passable.
  8. shelldrake

    shelldrake LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Thanks for the intel Mike.

  9. MGC

    MGC Scrapmaker

    This thread has been (appropriately) quiet for a while.
    I thought I'd add a few Mud Pond pics for the uninitiated to enjoy.
    My son learned that my MP Carry stories were not the least bit exaggerated and that Thoreau was not too bright for getting lost there!
    With a nice heavy rain the night before we carried, it was at optimal juiciness.:D

    Attached Files:

  10. Treewater

    Treewater Wooden Canoes are in the Blood

    I am reading this thread and looking at the map. I would like to take a trip to North Maine about May 1st. I have been several times to the Boundary Waters of Minnesota and the interior of Ontario. I like Ontario because you have more options to camp outside of established campsites. You can also gather firewood more liberally. So how is Maine? I don't mind a mile portage or even more if the remoteness is worth the journey. Anyone able to advise me on what to expect or where best to go?
  11. MGC

    MGC Scrapmaker

    May 1st can be early. I am attaching a link to the ice out dates from previous years. You need to check the ice conditions this year to figure out if it's going to be early or late this year. There are "Mainers" that frequent this site that can probably provide details.

    I have also attached the rules related to campsites and fires for you to consider. There are ample camp sites and all within reasonable distances. There should never be a need to stray from designated sites.

    You will need to register at one of the entry gates to camp:

    Each party intending to camp overnight at an Allagash Wilderness Waterway campsite must register at the first opportunity at a North Maine Woods control station, an AWW Ranger Station, or with an AWW ranger.
    3.2. CAMPING:
    A. The Bureau shall charge a reasonable fee for overnight camping.
    B. Camping is prohibited except at authorized campsites. Authorized campsites are identified by signs and indicated in the Bureau’s Waterway brochure. Campsites consist of one or more individual cells each including a picnic table and a fireplace. 3.5. OPEN FIRES
    A. Open fires are allowed only in authorized fireplaces on authorized campsites.
    B. No person shall build fireplaces in addition to those provided by the Bureau.

    How long a trip are you trying to plan? For "the full jammy" you can start in Greenville and paddle to Fort Kent.
  12. Treewater

    Treewater Wooden Canoes are in the Blood

    thanks for the links. that give me a place to start. I'm looking for a trip where I spend a few days getting "remote," no people, then set up base camp and spend a week enjoying the solitude and camp cooking. I like learning the different trees and their uses, which inevitably invovles cutting a few.
  13. Fitz

    Fitz Wooden Canoes are in the Blood

    As MGC said, May 1 might be a bit early. I think they got decent snow this year to insulate the ice and that might keep it around a bit.

    If you want to trek aways to a base, you might work your way into Allagash Lake and spend time there. I doubt you would see many people early in May, especially during the week. A ranger may check on you.

    There are lots of options for a nice trip.

  14. Mike Everett

    Mike Everett Maine Canoeist

    I agree that May 1 is quite early.

    There's a fair probability that all the lakes in the Allagash watershed will still be frozen.
  15. kayamedic

    kayamedic Kim Gass

    I think not. Chesuncook opens about ten days after my lake in Southern Maine does. And my lake has candled already. Its just a matter of days before its open. I take Chesuncook to represent Allagash as its not far.

    Chesuncook House has a webcam. Watch for the color of the ice surface to change to dark blue grey. Ice out will be shortly after.

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