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June 22

East Branch Penobscot to Whetstone Falls

JS discovers plenty of water in the East Branch.


The next day, the water picked up enough that I didn't have to get out too often. Once again, Jumbo was on a mission to get the hell off the Seboeis. I felt reluctant. After all, once we hit the Penobscot, it would just be funneling back into civilization. After about ten of the sixteen remaining miles on the Seboeis, we stopped for some hot soup. I still had two instant soups left. I put one soup in my mug and held out my hand. As JS poured, he accidentally sloshed the boiling water onto my hand. I dropped the cup and ran to the river and stuck my hand in. I held it there for five or ten minutes and he gave me most of his soup. He was all afire to go, so I let him paddle on ahead as I finished my soup.

The rain was gone and the day was slowly becoming hot and muggy. I soon noticed a distinct change from a spruce dominated forest to gracious overhanging red maples everywhere. Felt very southern all of a sudden. I was in no hurry to move along, so I stopped to take a bath. The water was pretty warm now and it was actually pretty refreshing to go for a swim. I came close to getting a leach, I looked down to see a little one inching across my foot.

I paddled out onto the East Branch Penobscot into a wealth of water. Wide and deep, but little current. I came to the first maintained campsite, to find Jerry and Lisa camped there. They had seen JS a while ago, so I moved on to catch up. I caught up and we were both happy to have enough water to dip a paddle into.

There was some tailwind, so we decided to set sail. As soon as we did, the wind got flukey and we ended up fighting the sails, hauling in, letting out, tacking, jibing, everything but moving forward. The worst part was that I had my hands full of sail, and inside of 200 yards I saw a black bear run out of the water and into the woods, then two moose in a logan with an osprey circling overhead. A photo of the moose and osprey would have been real neat.

We kept looking for the campsites that were shown on the Delorme Atlas, especially the Wassataquiok Stream one. We found out later that the campsite was against a stiff upstream current a few hundred yards. We saw another campsite with symbol on the left bank, in a dirt lot by the dirt road, next door to a house. I said "No way" to that one. I'd rather paddle all night than stay in that spot. As the possible sites dwindled, we found ourselves heading for Whetstone Falls, where there was a site. I didn't relish camping by the road. But when we got there, we found a site with picnic table on the right, at the head of the "falls", nice and secluded.

Looking upriver from Whetstone Falls.

That was where JS discovered the leach on his foot. While we were unpacking, I heard a loud "Oh, Gross!" and a yelp of pain. He had taken off his sandal and there was a huge leach right under the strap, sucking away. He pried the thing off with a knife, which he immediately regretted. Bled all over the place. Coulda been worse - coulda been me!

I was spent. It was a thirty mile day, starting with that miserable dry run on the Seboeis. We trudged back and forth up the sandy beach, draining more energy from me as we unpacked. Then it was firewood time, clothesline time, tent set-up, and on and on. I was so happy when Jumbo offered to cook supper. We were down to the pain-to-cook stuff like the pesto pizza. Good old JS went to task on that, I started the dough, I think, but he did all the cooking. We ate that in about one gulp and he went on to make biscuits, with garlic and parmesan cheese in them. Oh, they were delicious too. By the time he was done, it was dark out and I was a useless lump sitting by the fire.