|"Day 24 and still grinning!"|
At this point, we figured we could still make the coast if we had good wind. We'd shoot for Lincoln, then Ruth Jewell's island to camp. One last public campground in Veazie, then out to the coast. Soon after we put in, a headwind began to build. Shit. We passed the West Branch almost right away, and thus entered the broad Penobscot River. The headwind wasn't that bad and we made good time down the eight miles of deadwater to the Mattaseunk Dam.
We were, however, waylaid by this old olive green power boat. As we approached the dam, it motored full speed down the other side, made a big arc and headed for us. I thought maybe it was an official boat, except that the loud tunes thumping away didn't fit the picture. Turned out to be Todd and Todd, or "TNT" as they affectionately refer to themselves.
Todd was pretty proud of his boat, a vintage thing, looked like it came out of a war movie or something. Being a motorhead, he had squeezed every available horse out of the motor. We rafted up with them, and they offered us a couple of Buds. Seems beer isn't the only thing that flows free around here. Todd lost his license for "driving under the influence" and so commutes to work in his boat (Makes ya feel safe, knowing that). He said he practically lives in it too, his wife prefers it that way. And so Todd and Todd cruise the Medway waters of the Penobscot, fishing and drinking and checking out the through paddlers.
Poor Todd seemed to get the worst of it all the time. Living up to their nickname, he got in trouble once for being along with two chiefs of police who were fishing with dynamite. The idea is you drop a charge in the water and either stun or kill all the fish, then go fetch them with a net. According to Todd, one of the chiefs blew his hand off and Todd got blamed for it, being a bad influence or something. I said "Maybe it was your sunglasses". He was wearing a pair of little mirrored ovals. He grinned. Perhaps the name TNT is a good one. At any rate, we determined it was best to get the hell out before we exploded or got run over or something. We said goodbye and thanks for the beers. They took off, chased by a monstrous wake.
Maybe it was the hot sun, or maybe I was getting dehydrated, but it was certainly my turn to act like an idiot. TNT's parting words were that we ought to just paddle right up to the dam and lift over the right end. Well I believed them and headed over there to investigate. Meanwhile, Jumbo had checked out the huge "Portage Trail" sign and found a nice cartroad to use. I still don't know why I was so insistent on making my own trail, but the dense, untracked brush finally convinced me that it might be possible that some one else could be right once in a while. So we backtracked to the real portage and followed an easy path to the bottom of the Mattaseunk Dam. JS must think of times like this when he rolls his eyes and talks about having to put up with Hal.
Our loads were the heaviest they'd been, because we carried our own water ever since Medway. Local reports of mercury in fish and dioxin from the paper mills were enough for us not to trust filtered water.
I was surprised how pretty and pleasant the Penobscot is along this section. Below the dam the current picked up and we floated through riffles to Winn. We camped at Five Island Rapids. In amongst the islands, we found a great little site. We didn't have a fire, just ate good freeze-dried food and crashed. The all-time favorite freeze-dried food was the Beef (flavored) Stroganoff for four. We rehydrated unspiced venison jerky and added it to the dinner. The all-time worst was the chicken fajitas. I still have a package of it, neither of us could stand to eat it.