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Downeast Lakes, August

Discussion in 'Places to Paddle' started by paddler123, Dec 20, 2013.

  1. paddler123

    paddler123 Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes

    This is a little late, but in August my brother and I did a four day trip in the Downeast Lakes region of Maine. We are both children of Darrow Camp, located in this area on West Grand Lake. Darrow unfortunately closed after the summer of 2012, but the one upside to this sad event was that we had the chance to buy some of their equipment. We ended up with one canoe - a 17' Headwaters Prospector, two wannigans, some pots, fire irons, a tent, and some other sundries. This canoe was one of Darrow's long trip workhorses, having traveled all over Quebec and Labrador. We decided to inaugurate our "new" trip outfit with a short trip a little closer to home with a traditional Darrow route.
    We started on Sysladobsis, camping on Big Island on the south end. The reflector oven in the picture below belonged to my great-grandfather, in which we baked a loaf of bread for our lunch the next day.
    IMG_4097.jpg IMG_4100.jpg
    The next morning, we paddled to Big Sand Beach and took the 1.5 mile portage into Fourth Machias Lake.
    After a five-minute paddle on Fourth Machias, we came to Fourth Lake Stream. There was a good amount of water in the stream, so after a carry around an old dam right at the beginning we were able to run all of the rapids in the stream. Unfortunately, our hoped-for moose did not materialize in the calm marshy sections of the stream. We were on Third Machias by lunchtime, and camped on an island just before the narrows.
    When we arrived at the beginning of the Getchels the next morning, we were greeted by a wall of marsh with no clear path.
    Fortunately (and once again helped by high water), the rest of the Getchels were not nearly as bad as the beginning looked. We had about 4 or 5 carries around beaver dams and other obstacles, but most of it was paddle-able. From the outlet of the Getchels we continued north across Wabassus and into Pocumcus, eating lunch on the point on the northeast shore at a favorite Darrow campsite. From there we paddled out into West Grand, camping on Marks Island for the night.
    The next day, we continued into Junior Bay, up Junior Stream, and into Junior and then Scraggly Lakes. When we got to Scraggly, we spent our afternoon climbing Penobscot Bald Mountain, which offers a wonderful view of the area from its top. We camped on the east shore of Scraggly.
    On our last day, we paddled back across Junior, up Bottle Stream, and into Bottle, from where we took the half-mile portage back into Sysladobsis to end our trip. Neither of us had taken this portage since we were eleven years old, so it was a lot shorter and easier than we remembered.
  2. Dan Miller

    Dan Miller cranky canoeist Staff Member

    I love the photo of you (or your brother) surveying the marsh!
  3. Andre Cloutier

    Andre Cloutier Firestarter. Wicked Firestarter.

    Fire irons and a reflector oven, awesome! Great pictures.
  4. Grandlaker

    Grandlaker Builder & Restorer

    As a guide from Grand Lake Stream Darrow's will be missed by us all. 56 years lost to the fact that kids can't unplug long enough to enjoy gods great earth. Thanks for the story
  5. Fitz

    Fitz Wooden Canoes are in the Blood

    Paddler123: Thank you for your trip report. It is a beautiful area. I for one would like to know more about Darrow and their traditional routes in the region. Might make a nice Journal article if you could expand on your trip, Darrow history and exploits.

  6. MGC

    MGC Scrapmaker

    If you are serious about that I can connect you with a friend that was the foundation president in the last years. She knows all of the routes and Darrow history. PM me.

    My understanding is that the place is about an island HQ for WCHA?
  7. Fitz

    Fitz Wooden Canoes are in the Blood


    I was kinda, sorta, hoping to "volunteer" paddler123 to write the article since he was a former camper there and had the great trip report complete with photos. :eek:
  8. robin

    robin LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Nice trip, I didn't think the water levels in Fourth Lake Stream would be high enough in August, lucky you to hit it just right.

    Did the wind factor into your trip?

    I too would like to know more about Darrow Camp.
  9. Grandlaker

    Grandlaker Builder & Restorer

    Robin This was the wettest summer i can remember the water level went up rather than down here. I whore out 3 sets of rain gear.
  10. OP

    paddler123 Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes

    I would be happy to write an article or otherwise share my experiences - let me know whom to contact or what to do.
    My name is Sam Goldberg - I live in Florida and go to college in Boston.
  11. Dan Miller

    Dan Miller cranky canoeist Staff Member

    Hi Sam,

    You can contact the editor of Wooden Canoe by email at

    Dan Miller
    WCHA Webmaster

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