Day two dawned wet. We could no longer access the weather report without internet or phone, but there was no mistaking the dense, low-hanging clouds.
Though Bob Johnson rarely has canoers, the other couple and us were ready to paddle the Allagash Wilderness Waterway by 8 in the morning. Johnson led all of us down a series of dirt roads – the last quite rough – until we reached Allagash Stream.
With a splash and a wave we pushed off, all prepared to paddle our hearts out down the stream, across Allagash Lake, and to our campsite below Allagash Falls.
Unfortunately, our canoe scraped against the bottom a few dozen yards down. Maine has had a long, dry summer, and the stream was much lower than usual. After a few more false starts, we gave up, jumping out of the boat and riparian hiking down the waterway. Luckily, the bottom was sandy or pebbly, the water shallow, and despite the pouring rain I loved it! I couldn’t help laughing as Brian lined the canoe down the stream; he held a rope to the stern of the boat, and it floated along – exactly like a dog on a leash!
The stream was lined with shrubs and bushes, their branches leaning out over the water in many places, followed by deep pine woods beyond. We spooked a moose, its giant form galloping away from us.
Eventually, the water deepened and we hopped back in the canoe once more. The landscape ahead of us suddenly opened, and the blue Allagash Lake, with green mountains beyond, shimmered in the humid summer morning heat.
I’ve been to many lakes in Maine, but Allagash Lake made me beam. The shoreline was sandy, its pale gold contrasting with the emerald of the forest, the birch stands obvious with their white trunks. Two giant rocks jutted out of the water, and Brian and I ate our lunch overlooking the other islands and the mountains in the distance. The sky had suddenly cleared, sun streaming through the gaps in the quickly receding cloud cover.
As proof that the Maine woods deities were smiling on us, Brian caught a huge brook trout!
—by Erika Zambello