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 19

25.2 miles

Friday 1st June

Canoe & Co, Glen Sutton - Enosburg Falls


Day 19 route on Google Earth imagery

My expectation that last night would be so muggy that neither sleeping bag nor under-quilt would be required proved unfounded. I had to add extra clothing, and sleep was hard to come by, so I was up by 5:00 am, unnecessarily early. Following breakfast and minimal packing I was on the water by 6:00 am, heading lazily towards the international border, which would not open until 8:00 am. The river was a mix of shallow riffles, all of which had been totally invisible last time I was here, buried under another six or more feet of water, and some deeper spots which allowed easy, relaxed paddling. Dark clouds abounded and, approaching the border, rain start sprinkling.

Channel right

Morning light

Soon the border bridge came into view, already having preparatory work done below, and around 7:30 am I pulled out at the US Customs Post. Nobody was there, as expected, and the road was closed by a barrier. I snacked and stretched, making myself at home on a table, probably all caught on CCTV. 8:00 am came and went, and still nobody was there. I began to wonder if I had been given misinformation, although a hand-written note pinned to the wall in one of the kiosks said that, if the public were asking, they should be told that the border would close on 4th June (the coming Monday). I resolved to wait until 8:05 am. If nobody turned up by then, I would resort to my original plan, which was to cross the border here anyway, continue downstream, and then get a ride from Richford to the nearest open border crossing, a few miles to the north, and register there. I had clearly done due diligence at this crossing.

At 8:02 a car pulled up and an agent stepped out and started to open everything while donning uniform. After a few minutes he was ready to process me, requiring only my Green Card (I could have left my passport at home all this time!), and we exchanged some pleasantries, chatting like real people in a manner that is so rare at large airports, my usual route in and out of the country.

I set out again, running numerous riffles, grounding occasionally, and alternating these with deeper, slower pools. At Richford I took out and made the carry to Davis Park, where I phoned Viveka to confirm a meeting time at Enosburg Falls, and Ray & Hildy to confirm successful repatriation. During this time it rained intensely, the hardest rain of the trip so far, and I was under shelter in the gazebo. It was tempting to wander across the road to Grey Gables and do the “drowned rat” thing on the door-step, just for a laugh, but no-one would be at home until later.

East Berkshire gauge

Sampsonville Dam

I moved on in the rain, more gentle now. At East Berkshire I took a photo looking a long way up at the river gauge, the same one that I had planted my bow against last time to take a photo as evidence of the high river level. Sampsonville Dam and ledges were the biggest challenge. I carried just a few yards around the old dam, and then put back in to run the rest of the rapids. Only one remaining part persuaded me to exit the canoe and wade a short section, and that was because of the power of the water in the channel; it might have been fine to run, but speed control would have been minimal, so collision with any occult rock would have been highly undesirable.

Below there the river was more placid, and I actually had to work to make progress, finally pulling up at Lawyer's Landing in Enosburg Falls at 2:00 pm. I took out by the sign and ended up clearly on someone's property where the grass had been recently mown. A little scouting soon showed that the official take-out was a few yards downstream of the sign, and would have been less muddy with some very nice stone steps. I carried across the road to a green space and sat in the sun – it had been hot for a couple of hours now – to wait for Viveka. Here I would be visible. I also registered at the sign-in box and scouted the put-in for my return to the river on Sunday.

Sampsonville rapids

Enosburg Falls

When Viveka arrived I directed her down the hill to the put-in, then re-donned my boots to make the carry there, allowing resumption to be straight into the river, rather than starting with a short carry. We loaded up and then made the short drive to Richford to be greeted by Deb at Grey Gables B&B. I was disappointed to see a “For Sale” sign outside, a recent development as she and Tim look to the future beyond life at Grey Gables. This place has become a trail institution, so it's sad that this may come to an end. Of course, it's also possible that the tradition of excellent hospitality here may continue. Such is my hope.

Following a shower, the evening saw a trip to Montgomery Center for a meal at The Inn, followed by my body clock collapsing at about 9:00 pm, as had become routine. Breakfast tomorrow would be at 8:00 am, so there was time for some serious sleeping.


Website design & Photography © Peter Macfarlane

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