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June 27

Take-out: Hampden on the Penobscot

"JS navigates the wilds of Old Town, Maine"


We portaged down the road to a put-in behind the Eddington Salmon Club and continued through wide, shallow riffles. In Bangor, they had removed the dam about five years earlier. My guidebook, about thirty years old, didn't have this info. We were pleasantly surprised and made it to Hampden about 10 AM. We could have gone further, but probably not the extra 20 miles to Sandy Point.

The shoreline was dominated by docks and piers. Working men would stop their labors to stand up and ask where we came from. They waved and grinned, seeming satisfied to have witnessed a grand adventure.

It was odd, pulling out at the ramp. Seemed like there ought to be trumpets blaring or something. Instead, there was a marina full of distrustful yachtsmen who couldn't care less. Locals on lunch break sat at the picnic tables studiously ignoring us and staring at their lunches. We walked a couple of miles to a store and bought some prepackaged sandwiches and went back to wait for our ride.

Sounds like a dismal ending, but my grin just would not fade. Trip of a lifetime, worth every instant. All my gear worked great, every challenge overcome. And I did get a chance to explore a whole new territory: that of human nature. I never bothered to go there, all my trips were always designed to avoid anything human. Somehow, putting myself at the mercy of strangers put me in good company with a lot of very interesting folks. I'd do it again tomorrow if I had the chance.

Matt Hopkinson

The "Grand Finale"


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