Archives for posts with tag: canoe

DSC_2605

Canoeing the Wild with Friends
by Tony Mason.

As we stood on the rocks at the side of the Cascapedia in Quebec, we viewed two sharp drops in the rapids. Our guide, Dave Conley pointed them out.
“You can avoid them by staying to the left. If you get into that top one broadside you may never get out!”
“You mean we could die?” I said.
Everyone laughed, somewhat nervously.
After paddling down the river for two days we had heard the load sound of the upcoming rapids so Dave had recommended that we walk down to the bend in the river to scout the obstacles. Our group consisted of four friends from Amherst College classes of 1964 and 1965, plus the son and son in law of Bob Krughoff, and Michael, a friend of Dave’s who was a teacher at Lawrence School attended by both my children years back, and Vance who was Dave’s assistant. Bob had proposed the trip after receiving strong urging from his children. When he arrived he was disappointed that Dave had planned starting further down the Bonaventure River instead of starting at the top of the gorge.
“The river is as high as I have seen it” Dave warned when we first arrived at our campsite on the coast of the Gaspe. “ I have gone down this river 14 times and I know the risks.”
He then repeated about six times that the river was near record high due to recent rains.
Bob had not arrived at that point because he had to wait for his luggage which had not made the transfer at the airport. The rest of us readily agreed with Dave who projected a sense of competence and wisdom. We then learned after starting to paddle that Bob had mastered only the J-stroke. This was not particularly helpful when trying to “eddy out” on the riverbank. Consequently in the early going Bob’s boat would come in without turning, ramming another canoe or the shore. Luckily he had his son-in-law Denjar in the bow who quickly learned how to control the canoe so their performance improved.
However, when we reached the class 3 rapids with the heavy drops Bob nervously tried practicing other techniques. After scouting the river we walked back to our canoes and began descending the river one at a time. Dave started first, as usual standing in the canoe controlling the direction with a pole. He made it look easy. This somewhat lifted the confidence for the rest of us. Next went Vance, a recent college grad on the way to Ohio State in chemical engineering, who Dave had hired to help with the trip. Vance extremely skilled in the canoe, assisted with every aspect of the trip. Those of us remaining watched from up the river as he rounded the bend, passed the high waves without difficulty. Next came Larry Dewitt using his strong strokes and darting technique characteristic of his winning style on the soccer field at Amherst. He also was successful. Then it was Bob and Denjar. We watched as they disappeared around the bend but then there was a long delay before Dave gave the signal for the next canoe, We learned that Denjar made a heroic effort while Bob was doing some variation of his J- stroke as they hit a rock, spun around backwards and then tipped over. Alex Krughoff, Bob’s son, was in the bow as he and I guided the “Nimrod” safely down the passage. Alex had coined the name for our canoe. Both of us weighed over 200 lbs causing less freeboard and the momentum of an aircraft carrier. Michael, who had brought is own canoe and plenty of experience looked like a pro as he threaded his way. Then Chuck using his calm deli berate technique passed through the waves with a resolute expression on his face.
After that excitement we pulled over to the side of the river to have lunch. Dave and Vance set up the usual table covered with assortments of cold cuts, peanut butter, lettuce, tomatoes, and a choice of bread or a pita wrap, as well as watermelon, grapes and cookies.. As always we ate well. Dave had supplied two coolers and several sealed barrels which each produced magical items such as fresh wild salmon, choice steaks, and pork loin which he would cook on a large iron frying pan over the fire. With each day we would all marvel about all the meticulous preparations for the trip.
One night sitting around the campfire Dave remarked how the woods gave him a spiritual sense. He respected the wild life and enjoyed taking photographs with his fine camera with a telescopic lens. Larry had a similar camera at home which lead to long discussions between them about the pros and cons of camera equipment.
Michael and I never won a cribbage game. Having played with my parents, Dave had given me a refresher on the rules and then soundly defeated me in a game. Then a round of team contests ensued. Michael and I first lost to the Krughoffs¸ then to Dave and Vance who again proved his competence in all things. He also knew many obscure facts about canoeing and chemicals. By the end of the trip when ever some question arose we would say “ask Vance”.
After Bob and Denjar had flipped their canoe the rest of us felt quite smug, until the next day when Alex and I hit some large standing waves. With the first one we took on water, with the second more water leaving only a few inches of freeboard. Then we began to tip. We both yelled simultaneously “The Nimrod is going down!”. We were able to get near the shore before submerging, but since the current was strong I was starting to float downstream. Suddenly Vance’s canoe appeared along side us for the rescue.
On the lower part of the river we saw two eagles-one sitting just above the large nest high in the tree. We did not see a moose but one night I pitched my tent just a few feet from some old moose tracks in the sand. I was awakened during the night by a loud “crack” sound. I peeked out of the tent, could it be a moose? Then it happened a few times more. I surmised it must have been fish jumping but next morning Dave told me it was a beaver telling us to keep our distance. The next day we paddled down to our final take out point near the mouth of the river. During the trip we had shared the woods with the wildlife as well as sharing many stories with each other. For more information about river trips in Maine and Canada with Dave Conley visit Canoe the Wild.com

Advertisements

Trip Highlights from 2015. River trips including the Allagash canoe trip, St. Croix River, Cascapedia, NE Mistassibi river trip, Liard River Trip, Yukon Canada and Penobscot Rivers. also a few pictures from a moose photography outing and moose hunting wall tent base camps in the North Maine Woods. My 2016 schedule Maine canoe trips includes 3 day, 4 day and longer trips on Maine  and Canadian rivers. Most canoe trips are for the beginner, and no extreme workouts or conditioning required before you trip. An active life style including walking and stretching for a few weeks prior to the trip is helpful. Canoe trips are fully outfitted and guided. More information is available at Canoe the Wild.com

Allagash canoe trips are for all ages and for those with little or no experience. This trip was six days and five nights from just below Chase Stream Rips to Allagash Village. Swim, fish, view moose,eagles and loons, learn to handle a canoe, meet and make new friends and eat great meals cooked over the open fire. Discover why Maine is a top summer vacation destination and why the Allagash wilderness Waterway is the most famous river for canoe trips east of the Mississippi. Contact Maine Guide Dave Conley to discuss your next adventure and summer vacation plans during the 2016 summer season.

Four day Allagash canoe trip, 33 miles, three nights tenting out, great food, spotted lots of wildlife, and a great trip for those with little or no canoe camping experience. Canoe the Wild takes care of all the logistics, provides the meals and gear. You just show up at an agreed meeting time and location with your clothing and sleeping bag and we take care of the rest. Its not too early to start making plans for your Maine summer vacation 2016 on the Allagash and St. Croix River trip.  Contact Maine Guide Dave Conley to discuss your next Maine Tour and Adventure!

Coast Guard Buddies from the graduating Academy class of 1976 came to Maine for a long Memorial Day weekend Allagash Canoe trip with Canoe the Wild. Assisting was Josh of the East Grand High School Outdoor education program and Malcolm of Ashland.

Adventure Racing is a great way to get young people, teens and adults outside and learn new skills such as using a compass, mountian biking and paddling a canoe or kayak.  East Grand Outdoor Education Teens also have to opportunity to assist on Canoe the Wild canoe trips on Maine’s Allagash, St. Croix and Penobscot rivers and select rivers in Canada. Over 70 take part in the 10th annual East Grand Adventure Race and Baskahegan Stream canoe in Danforth Maine Saturday, May 9th. The 18+ mile course included a 1.4 mile compass run, 9 miles of mountain biking, 8 miles of paddling and several challenges along the way including log rolling, tomahawk throwing, two person cross cut saw, and a mud crawl. Winners of the High School boys division and overall winners were East Grand’s Philip Farley & Peter Apgar with a course time of 2:03:18 after calculating time off for completing challenges. East Grand’s Physical Education teacher Tammi Matula had several middle school students on her relay team doing the compass run and biking while Judy Crone and Rene Crone paddled. Other local winners include the father and son team of Eric and Thomas Gilman taking first place in the Jr/Sr division, Sam Plummer and Sarah Stoddard 1st place in the High School Mixed Division and Logan Crone and Andy VeNess in the men’s division. Orono High school had several teams in the race including several adult teams. The separate 34 mile Baskahegan Stream Canoe Race which started in Kossuth off of route 6 and ended in Bancroft north of Danforth was won by the four person team of Chip Loring, Terry Wescott, Ander Thebaud and Bob Hessler completing the race in 5:05:10. Many thanks to the 50+ volunteers who made this event possible and to SunEdison, Machias Savings Bank, Woodie Wheaton Land Trust and Ski Rack Sports for helping to sponsor this event. Full results and pictures are available on the school’s website by visiting http://www.eastgrandschool.org/adventure-race

 

Pictures are of my 2013 summer canoe trips including the Mountain River Trip in the NWT of Canada, teen whitewater outing on the Bonaventure River in Quebec, two family Allagash trips, one couples Allagash trip and a teen day tour on the St. Croix River. Visit my Youtube Channel and view these pictures with added video clips of spectacular scenery and whitewater!

LINK TO YOUTUBE:  http://www.youtube.com/dgconley?feature=mhee

Visit Maine this summer for some of the best  wilderness canoeing in North America. The St. Croix River is one of Maine’s finest canoe & kayak trips known for its moderate whitewater and can be paddled all summer long. Other Maine destinations known for their scenic and recreational value- as well as their wilderness and wildlife- include the Allagash and Penobscot Rivers. Trips can be day tours, weekend getaways or longer. Canoe trips are a great way to rest, relax, explore and spend quality time with friends and family. Swim, fishing, view wildlife, photography, cook over an open fire and learn a new skill. Laugh around the campfire, star gaze and listen to the sounds of loons. Back country canoeing and camping has a way of bringing the best out of everyone. Choose the northeast for your next family vacation or group outing on a canoe camping trip and discover Maine as a top destination for wilderness adventure.

Dave Conley has been paddling the rivers of Maine and Canada since 1985. Fully outfitted and guided canoe trips offered during the summer months include day, overnight, weekend or longer for the beginner to advanced.

Maine Guide and Outfitter: We take care of all pre-trip planning, packing of group gear, menu, shopping for food and packing meals. With years of experience and many outings on Maine and Canadian rivers, we’ve become quite efficient with the whole process including best place to start and end your trip, where to camp, what rapids to scout, river distances and time needed to travel, points of interest, camp setup & takedown, providing quick shelter, proper fire wood selection, hot & hardy meals cooked over an open fire, and the knowledge & experience of your canoe route so you can have a safe and enjoyable time.

Gear We Provide: All necessary camping equipment including river bags to keep your clothing dry, sleeping pads, durable Old Town canoes, type III life jackets, paddles, tents, group tarp, cooking & eating utensils, meals while on the river.

Contact: For more information or to reserve a trip, contact Dave Conley at 207-551-8729, Email dave@canoethewild.com, Web: http://www.canoethewild.com/index.html