Peter Macfarlane's 2018 Solo East-West Through-Paddle of the Northern Forest Canoe Trail
in a Cedar-Strip Canoe by Otter Creek Smallcraft

NFCT's Map of Overall Route Peter & Sylva completing the NFCT

Day 14

25.4 miles

Sunday 27th May

Rte 16/Rte 110A, Androscoggin River - Groveton


Day 14 route on Google Earth imagery

Today proved to be a delightful day of paddling: downstream, fun, scenic, fair weather, and not long. But back to the beginning. I woke soon after 6:00 am. Ray and Hildy were already up and about, being early risers. After a leisurely breakfast, Ray drove me back to the Route 16 / Route 110A junction, dropped me, and went off to do some trail maintenance chores while I started to carry. I felt strong after a relaxing day yesterday and a good night's rest, even going uphill, and the carry passed quickly, the 4.2 miles going by in less than 1 hour 20 minutes. That was partly thanks to Ray. Just as I was reaching the end of a 20-minute bout and my shoulders were ready for a rest, he appeared round a bend and told me that there was only 0.3 mile to go. This information seemed to allow no possibility of a rest, so I soldiered on to meet him at Gord's Store.

After signing the register, I went into the store and greeted Janet, who was serving, by name, just as she had greeted me 5 years previously. After being initially nonplussed, she soon remembered me after a few prompts. I topped up my supply of jerky; my own creation in the re-supply I had just collected had gone mouldy, much to my disappointment – the first batch tasted very good and it was part of my daily ritual, eaten alongside a cup of hot chocolate in the evenings while dinner cooked.

Back on the water, the first part of the Upper Ammonoosuc River was shallow, but mostly there was enough water to float. I used my short-bladed paddle and made good progress without much effort. A few rips required navigation, but always there was enough depth in the channels. The valley is delightfully scenic, with silver maples arching over the river and frequent views of mountains. Sadly this was somewhat offset by the almost continuous noise from ATVs somewhere north of the river, as well as someone who seemed to delight in firing off 31 rounds of ammunition in quick succession. Methinks if you don't get the deer on the first shot, it's a bit late to try another 30, but who am I to comment?

Upper Ammonoosuc River

Rapids above Stark

Having started the day carrying at 8:15 am, I was approaching Stark around noon. The rapids above Stark Bridge required careful navigation, and this was going well until I landed myself in a region where there was no deep exit. The next region looked rather bony, so I took out on to the bank, carried maybe 150 yards along an old road, no doubt the former Route 110, and put back in for the remaining rapids to the bridge.

After a brief break at the bridge, I continued downstream to the Emerson Road bridge, where I sent a SPOT waypoint to advise Ray and Hildy of my progress. They had insisted on bringing me dinner that night at the Normandeau camp-site, and I have enormous difficulty turning down offers of food. I learned later that this SPOT never arrived, one of I think two in the whole trip, the other being from the end of Kennebago Road along the Dead River.

Stark Bridge

Eroding cemetery

The river from there to Groveton was shallow, mostly paddlable but with a few regions requiring a quick exit to wade on slippery cobbles. The carry around Red Dam was as awkward as I remembered, with steep take-out and put-in. The carries around the other two dams in Groveton were uneventful, and by 3:30 pm I found myself at a mosquito-infested Normandeau camp-site. It took time, but I finally found a pair of trees from which to hang my hammock, and then killed time and mosquitoes while awaiting Ray, Hildy and dinner. Having not received my earlier SPOT, they responded to the one I sent on arrival at camp, springing into action and making a bee-line for my location.

I sat feeding and killing mosquitoes until they arrived. Had they not been coming, I would probably have continued another 2-3 hours to reach the Samuel Benton camp-site on the Connecticut River. It couldn't be any buggier than here. But we had made arrangements, and it would be churlish to refuse an offer of dinner. They arrived in due course, and we enjoyed dinner together al fresco. Fresh, home-grown asparagus is probably as far from dried food as can be achieved.

Red Dam

Dinner on the Mosquito Coast

On their departure, I wandered across the road to a motel I had seen while waiting. A room was available, so I secured it. The evening was yet young, and all I had to look forward to in the camp-site was mosquitoes, so I treated myself to a little luxury. Then it was back across the road to take down my hammock and secure the canoe, before returning to a room with a bed and a shower. I promised myself a relaxed start in the morning, with only about 26 miles to cover, and that, although upstream, was mainly on the fairly sluggish Connecticut River.


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