Last summer, I kayaked in Honduras, Norway, and the Netherlands, but not anywhere on the Northern Forest Canoe Trail. Surprising indeed, since every other summer since moving to Maine in 2003, I have. I think I first heard about the trail in 2008, at the Lobster Stream boat launch, where Mom, Dad, and I met thru-paddler Paul Heintz. Paul was a cheerful guy, tall and bearded, with a canoe full of an impressive amount of gear.
In those early years, I paddled the NFCT many times, without knowing it. For sure, I was on Mooselookmeguntic, the Richardsons, the Allagash, Flagstaff, the West Branch of the Penobscot, Moosehead, and Chesuncook, all without benefit of NFCT’s great maps. This year, I promise to do better. In fact, I already have one NFCT sojourn in the books.
The Hartmans’ cabin was my home for one night during Paddle for Hope in 2011 and two during my 2015 thru-paddle. A week or two ago, I returned for a more relaxing visit. Paul and Janie have owned their place for almost fifty years and have a lifetime of natural discoveries to share with visitors. This year we hiked to Angel Falls, off nearby Bemis Road, not far from where the AT crosses the road.
All three of us were up early, ready to paddle the 6 miles to Upper Dam in the early morning calm. The storms in the night had been intense and right overhead, so we were glad to see sun.
As I paddled with a gentle wind at my back, awed by the flight of a calm and majestic bald eagle, across the water came the faint sound of singing from the girls’ yellow canoe.
“I bet they’re singing camp songs,” I thought, knowing Megan would have enjoyed them and their enthusiasm for my trip. They were athletic and comfortable with camp life…Becca plays field hockey like I did in college and Jess has been on many wilderness trips, including 30 days canoeing in the Boundary Waters.
At Upper Dam, I was pleased to find phone service and quickly called Paul and Janie Hartman. Instead of paddling to their cabin, could I please finish all of Mooselookmeguntic Lake and get picked up in Oquossuc? It was settled and off I paddled onto another idyllic lake on another idyllic day. I am so blessed to be on this trip! Although the wind did come up and I paddled deep into Wildwood Cove to stay safe.
As always, the details fell into place. A man pulling his boat pointed me to Cliff’s cabin, where Cliff was happy to store my boat overnight. Paul and Janie whisked me off for some Yellow Brick Road ice cream at The Gingerbread House and then home to their cabin for an evening of visiting.