The Saco River above Hiram is every bit as alive as the Atlantic Ocean. I can feel the thrum of the slow, steady current under the keel of the canoe. It’s very much alive but the difference is that I don’t feel like the Saco is trying to kill me.
We fueled ourselves with chocolate milk and whoopie pies as needed – and arrived in Hiram at a little past 3:00 pm.
The route was a nice mix of rolling hills and flat traveling – more serious grades and hotter weather as we approached Limington and the short steep hills that guard the upper Saco.
The new panniers work very well on my old LL Bean hybrid bike. It’s awkward to mount and dismount but the load is very secure.
An upriver breeze helped make good time against the current. I met one kayaker and one fisherman in a small motorboat. Two young couples were camped on a sandbar a few miles upstream.
They remarked that I was the first person that they had seen in two days. We congratulated each other on choosing to paddle mid-week to avoid the party crowds the Saco is known for.
I also saw a deer, an owl, a beaver and lots of ducks as the sun lowered west of the river. It feels like coming home after being on the coast in high season.
I found a high bar of fine white sand about five miles above Hiram – upstream of Burbank Pond. The mosquitoes become fierce after the breeze settled down. So after a swim, I had supper in the tent. The deep sand will make a nice bed.
I find myself camped at Walker Falls tonight – only a few miles below the Rt. 302 bridge in Fryeburg. That means in 24 hours I paddled, rowed and poled more than 20 miles upstream from Hiram. I am pushing myself for no logical reason. The schedule is set,
the campsites are booked. There is no sense in rushing to stand still.
But I reached East Brownfield before noon today — and the scheduled stop there seemed silly. The river got much shallower and quicker above the Route 160 bridge. So I spent the rest of the day poling the canoe.
I even considered not stopping here and continuing on to Route 302. Why? What am I trying to prove to myself?
I am camped at the former AMC campground at Walker’s Falls. “Falls” may be too grand a name — it’s really just a short riffle at an old granite bridge abutments. I was able to line the canoe up through with no problems.
Tired shoulders and a confused mind. I need hydration, hot food and sleep.