Self-Propelled Journal: July 31 – August 1

July 31

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.

I arrived in Hiram with my son Ben after a long, hot bike ride from Ferry Beach.  We got a late start after a tire problem and the subsequent repair held us up.

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.

Lots of heavy trucks on these roads, but the pavement is good and a narrow bike lane is available at most times.

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.

After meeting Andy Robinson with my gear change in Hiram, he transported Ben and the bikes back to Farmington.  I loaded the canoe and started upstream at about 5:30 pm.

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.


August 1

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,

Welcome Sign at Walker Falls

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.

This entry was posted in Kittery to Fort Kent, Maine Rivers, Maine Roads by jimandrews. Bookmark the permalink.

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: