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June 10

Ascending the Fish River


John MacGregor was a wealthy englishman who covered a thousand miles in a canoe of his own design, known as the Rob Roy. He traveled light, with ten pounds of gear. He relied on locals for every meal and a place to stay every night. His portages were the same: he would pay some local to haul it in a cart for him.
The current of the Fish River was awful strong. We could do it but it would have been like the Mattawamkeag last spring. Instead, we asked the manager, Lee Theriault if he knew any one who could take us. He did it himself and we did a "Rob-Roy" carry around the steepest section of the Fish, to the boat launch at Soldier Pond. Heck of a tailwind, quite an opposing current, and we headed upstream. We found a snug site under the cedars to camp. We pulled the boats up into the bushes and strung the campsite out along the shoreline, in small openings in the thicket. I made a half-hearted proposal to forego the fire tonight and enjoy the moonlight, to which JS replied: "Yeah, but fires are good." Or some such non-answer. There was no fight in me, so I let him kindle a nice cheery cedarwood fire. It felt like we were in a room, with all the twiggy brush lit up around us.