After a six-hour drive – which included a pit stop at LL Bean and Hannaford for supplies – we made it to Johnson’s Allagash Lodge for the very last expedition for my National Geographic Young Explorers grant.
The lodge is a collection of log buildings on the edge of Narrow Pond, which eventually drains into Allagash Lake. The cabins sit on a small hill, and from our porch I could peer through the trees and make out the reflection of the water. Bob Johnson, the owner, gave us a quick tour, saying proudly that, “This is a one-man operation!”
Johnson built all the cabins himself, and to this day likes to make improvements. He usually has only one or two groups at a time, though while we were there another canoeing couple arrived. His beautiful dog, Nilla, is a constant companion, and accompanied us as we looked around.
We arrived just before 7 p.m., so after Johnson showed us around, we quickly unpacked the fishing equipment together before hitting the pond. Johnson had pointed out a spring that flushed cool water, creating a congregation of brook trout.
The water was perfectly calm, the same hues as the pastel-colored clouds as they sailed over the dark outline of a nearby ridge. The surface was broken by thousands of tiny circles as minnows hit the top of the water. From the forest behind me I heard the trill of territorial red squirrels, as well as the gorgeous singing of a Winter Wren. A few frog croaks rounded out the summer symphony.
Of course, it wasn’t completely peaceful. The mosquitoes buzzed like miniature helicopters, zipping near my face and hair. Every so often a logging truck would rumble past on the dirt road above, leaving a billowing cloud of dust in its wake. It had been an incredibly dry summer, and the dust showed it.
Still, these annoyances didn’t take away from my excitement upon returning to the Maine North Woods.
—by Erika Zambello