Reality Sets In


Three weeks ago it all came crashing down.

My vague ideas of an itinerary for the Kittery to  Fort Kent trip had been floating around in my head for months.  It was like canoeing through a pleasant early-morning fog with no real plan or purpose other than being back at camp for breakfast.

l would start in Kittery on July 28 and I would make it to Fort Kent by Labor Day. The romance of the idea captured my mind — the details almost bored me. Choosing a route was kind of fun, but why get all bogged down in the minutia of exactly where I would be on a given date.

“Flexibility,” I kept telling myself, “that’s the secret to a successful trip.”

Then three weeks ago I called the Baxter State Park headquarters, almost on a whim, to check on the availability of campsites. I had a four or five day window of time that I inquired about and I was interested in a lean-to as opposed to a tent site.  But … you know…whatever.

“There is exactly one lean-to still available at Katahdin Stream for the night of August 21,” said the patient reservation clerk.

And with those words the trip details began to take on the cold-chiseled, carved-in-stone character of a military assault plan. If I was going to be at Katahdin Stream on the 21st … then I needed to hike the mountain the next morning and be at Roaring Brook for the next night, and then Russell Pond, and then South Branch ….. and so on.

All the nice green lines on the digital images and the margin notes scribbled on the paper maps began to take on a deeper meaning.   It all started to look like this:

7/28/12 Start at Fort Foster on Gerrish Island in Kittery

7/28 – 7/30 Row the Old Town north on the Maine Island Trail

7/31 Bike from the coast to Hiram on west side of Sebago Lake.

8/1 -8/2 pole and paddle upstream on the Saco to Fryeburg

8/4 Bike Rt. 113 thru Evan’s Notch to Gilead

8/5 – 8/6 Paddle the Androscoggin to Rumford Point and bike to South Arm on Richardson Lake

8/7 -8/11 Paddle the Northern Forest Canoe Trail (bike the portage to Stratton) to Grand Falls on Dead River

8/12 -8/17 Mountain bike from the Dead River east to Borestone Mountain in Elliotsvlle then north thru the AMC lands and the Nahmakanta Public Lands Unit to Nahmakanta Camps on the AT

8/19 – 8/21 Hike the AT to Katahdin Stream Campground

8/22 – 8/25 Hike north thru Baxter to Webster Lake

8/26 – Canoe thru Webster Lake, carry up to Telos Lake , canoe to Chamberlain Lake

8/27 to 9/2 Canoe Allagash River to Allagash Village

9/3 Labor Day — canoe St. John River to Fort Kent

What could possibly go wrong?

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About jimandrews

Jim Andrews is an attorney, Registered Maine Guide, writer, husband, dad and sixth-generation Mainer who grew up in the hills of Oxford County and now lives in Farmington. He is a monthly columnist for the The Maine Sportsman magazine where he focuses on muscle-powered travel in the outdoors and specific applications to fishing and hunting in Maine. Late in the fall of 2010 Jim suffered a mid-life crisis and decided that the cure would be a self-propelled trip from Kittery to Fort Kent in the summer of 2012. The preparation, planning and execution of that trip will be covered here -- as well as his own ongoing attempts to reintroduce physical effort back into the increasingly-motorized world of fishing and hunting in Maine. Find Self-propelled on Facebook: