Our very first Guided canoe trip started on the afternoon of June 10th. We had folks showing up at the school as early as about 4pm, and coming in until about 2am of the 11th (one late arrival from NY). We would have a group of 8 folks, including myself, my instructor Dan Moore and 6 guests. We met the night before to make sure we were well rested for our 5 hour trip to Maine the next morning. This would be a 4 day guided canoe trip, and I was excited!
We started off the evening with the filling out of forms (standard practice), and then moved into some brief instruction in the classroom. Dan covered a lot on the anatomy of the canoe, different paddling techniques and strokes, how to read the river and the likes. We always give our guests the formal classroom instruction so when we finally get to the water, everyone is on the same page and there are no surprises.
After the 5 hour trip to Vanceboro, ME….we met up with the outfitter to get our canoes, paddles and vests. There would be four boats, each running tandem. As I recall, it was a perfect early afternoon, with the sun glistening off of the water that was passing us by ever so swiftly in the river. What a gorgeous area, with Canada just on the other side of the river from us!
So being New England, and more specifically, Maine…..we were on the water about 10-15 minutes when a storm rolled in. It came in from the distance and we could see the clouds, hear the thunder rumbling and even a couple of flashes were noted. Because we had to make time to reach our first camp before dark, I decided we would continue paddling along close to the shoreline in case we needed to leave the water. Within the next 20-30 minutes or so, I believe we were all soaked from the downpour. The sun immediately came back out as it was just a passing thunderstorm, so spirits were still high and we dried out relatively quick as we continued toward our first camp. While paddling we went over the paddling techniques and most of the other information from the previous day, so that the guests could see what that looked like in real time. We hit several sections of rips on this day, but nothing too serious.
Finally we arrive at camp, pull all of the canoes out of the water, start unpacking and going over camp. The first line of business was to gather enough firewood for cooking dinner as well as for the night. Everyone pitched in and worked as a team. Its always good to see that. Once the firewood gathering was complete, the guests were able to set up their tents, while I started preparing dinner. As the guests finished setting their camps, they helped get a tripod built, complete with a galley pole for suspending our pots from.
After dinner we all hung around and shared in some Woodsman Time. This is always one of my favorite times at any of our classes. We share stories, laughs and talk about things to come the next day….much like the stories you read about in the O’l wilderness books. The difference here, is we are living it and telling the stories.
The next day, after a delightful breakfast, we started back on the water. So load the boats back up and get to paddling. We seen a couple of Bald Eagles if I recall. They are prevalent along this trip and such a beautiful sight to see. Flying effortlessly from the tree tops and at times swooping down to get a closer look at us. There is an abundance of wildlife in Maine, and even when you cant see them, they usually leave something behind to let you know they are sharing the forest with you.
During the trip we often would throw a line in and try our luck. There were several fish caught during the four days, some by regular rod and reel and others by way of the fly rod.
Setting up camps and taking them down become effortless to a degree, and act more as a way of woods life. The tasks that make it daunting for a lot of folks in the wilderness become easier and appreciated when you live it.
The other times during the day, and at night, become more enjoyable as you spend the time out. Friendships are begun or strengthened. Teamwork is a byproduct of what we all know has to be accomplished to enjoy natures beauties and our time there. There is not much better than a pristine waterway to paddle on after a good meal and some labor packing your group and personal gear back up.
So there are many of good times out in the woods and on the water, but this usually doesn’t come without some mishaps. There are times when folks don’t communicate well, the river is just against you…..or simply put, things just happen. Here is an example of what can happen in some rapids if you are not giving them your undivided attention.
We hope you enjoyed this blog, and look forward to having you out with us on a trip in the future….be it a canoe trip or a snowshoe trip. Until then, please enjoy your time in the woods, on the water or otherwise. Safe travels friends.