The paddle across the lake was easy, but the next rocky section of Allagash Stream was tough. Paint marks on particularly large rocks illustrated that many canoes had scraped along the bottom before us, and we even spotted two lost paddles caught in downed tree limbs and along the shore.
We were too heavy, and now the riparian walking became difficult, the current swifter. Brian jumped out with his wading boots, holding on to the canoe’s rope as I did my best to float and prevent us from hitting the biggest boulders and tree roots. We felt huge relief when we could both paddle once more, and celebrated when we found Allagash Falls at exactly 3 p.m.
The camping options at Allagash Falls looked phenomenal. There were three different locations, one overlooking the top of the falls, and two farther below. Grassy clearings were perfect for tents, and picnic tables allowed us to easily organize the gear. After portaging our canoe around the falls, we set up camp.
We have rarely had an afternoon and evening in one place, and to say we enjoyed it would be an understatement. We fished, swam, and took plenty of time to fill up our tummies. I watched the Red-breasted Nuthatches scuttle down the pine trunks to check us out, ultimately deciding we were boring before returning to foraging in the canopy.
For canoe trips, it is very helpful to have a “road crew” to shepherd the car from input to output spots. For the summer trip, this role was first fulfilled by my dad, a registered Maine fishing guide and angling author. He found a fishing trail that led to the campsite from a dirt road about a mile away, and he even joined us for an hour!
The sunset quickly became my favorite part of the day. Ahead of the falls lay a small pond, and the pink and golds of the sky reflected like a mirror. I took photos and videos, the falls in the foreground, the sky glowing in the background.
Sometimes I like to sum up nature moments in one word. That night, it was “serene.”
—by Erika Zambello