|Catamaran Rig for the Lake Crossing|
It's 4 AM and I sit before the percolating coffee pot and look out across Lake Pohenegamook. Frost covers our boats, rigged in tandem for sailing the ten miles down the lake.
As I got up, I heard the call of an American Bittern in the adjacent swamp. Sort of a combination of a plunk and hitting wooden sticks together. I think I drove him off with all the ruckus of getting up. Later I watched a muskrat swim by the sandy beach, 10 feet off, then get out and run up into the poplars.
Yesterday, the upper St. Francis River brought us a mile or so of Class II rapids. At least that's my guess, as nothing is rated up here. There were a couple of real nice drops. After stopping for a photo op, I got complacent and didn't see a small rock that thwarted my about-face. That screwed me up and I broached on a rock, dipping my gunwale and dropping my paddle. I recovered and even found my paddle ten minutes downstream, but it was a real anxiety attack watching first the water pouring in, then the wood paddle disappear under water and then go out of sight around the bend while I extricated myself. Regardless, that whole stretch was a blast.
When the river entered the swamplands again, it was a long struggle with tight meanders and occasional heavy gusts of wind. The wind seemed to be coming from all directions but it was really us going all ways in those meanders. Now and again we could see the tree-covered ridges that parallel the valley. The hardwoods were still in their spring colors, punctuated with the dark spruce points. No sign of the logging seen on the previous day.
Eventually the river became wide, deep and sluggish. We knew we were approaching the lake. It was early afternoon with a strong, gusty wind when we hit the sandbar that gave us our first view of the lake. In the foreground was a motor boat, and a PWC was going by further out. Knowing the lake had a well-populated south end gave us some fodder for discussion. We talked about going back upstream and look for a camp, but really no one wants to cover the same ground two more times with tired muscles.
We entered the lake, went around the point on the left, and discovered Plage des Rosiers, a perfect little beach-front campsite waiting for us. Well, not quite perfect. Soon after we got there, a mess of folks arrived on ATV's and spent the next couple of hours hanging around and putting up and down the beach.
We ignored them while we assembled our boats into a catamaran for tomorrow's sail. They seemed quite put out that we occupied this little patch of sand at the far end of the beach. After they left, it was a tranquil little spot again. We rigged the catamaran together with three cross bars and set up all the sailing gear. After dark we paddled around on the now-calm lake. Handled pretty good, turned well.
As I watch the frost melt off the boats and gear, I sip my coffee and think it's gonna be an interesting day. Well, I hear Doug rummaging around in his tent so I better get another pot of swill going.