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 21

27.1 miles

Sunday 3rd June

Enosburg Falls - Swanton


Day 21 route on Google Earth imagery

I was up by about 6:30 am, shifting my body clock back towards paddling hours. There followed a long and luxurious breakfast, so I topped up with calories and protein. A little before 9:00 am Viveka and I took our leave and headed once more for Enosburg Falls, arriving there around 11:00 am. I sent a SPOT waypoint to announce my return to the trail, launched my canoe below the falls, loaded my pack, now re-supplied with food to last to the end, and set off downstream for the closing eight days of this trip. I was ahead of schedule, and growing ever more confident that a successful conclusion lay in my future. Meanwhile Viveka went off to lodge our instruments temporarily at Grey Gables while she enjoyed a bicycle ride along the Missisquoi Valley Rail Trail. We had tentative plans to meet at Sheldon Junction for an ice cream, provided the timing worked out.

Launch at Enosburg Falls

Missisquoi River

It was another beautiful day as I negotiated the riffles below the falls and found the the high-water take-out to St Albans Road, where five years ago I had paddled almost to the road; now there was a 6-foot bank to scale. Farther downstream I came to the Abbey Rapids. Despite the low water, there were navigable channels. It was technical, but I achieved a clean run except for two minor scrapes when I found myself in a region with no deep exit.

Abbey Rapids …

… now descended

A little farther down I met Peter and Grant, through-paddlers heading upstream. We stopped and chatted for a while, during which my phone announced a text from Viveka, no doubt to say that she was waiting for me at our rendezvous. Sure enough, as I moved on again and rounded the bend, there she was, waiting on the bridge. A few minutes later I pulled up and we enjoyed an ice cream together. By 2:00 pm I was once more heading downstream, making good speed in the deeper water and slower progress in the shallower riffles.

At Sheldon Springs Dam I took the longer portage, merely to investigate it; I had previously scouted and used the path on river left, but this path on river right was reputed to be easier, especially if using wheels. If there's a next time, I'll go back to river left – it's considerably shorter and no more difficult when carrying. The rapids below the put-in required some focussed navigation, as well as some hasty exits when the navigation was less than perfect or when there was no good route opening up. At East Highgate I remained in the river, declining the regular portage. Once again, careful navigation and some lining down the steeper drops brought me successfully through this region.

East Highgate Ledges …

… successfully run

The run-in to Highgate Dam was slack water and felt like hard work after having help from the current for so many miles. Whilst this had been my target, with an intention to stay at the NFCT camp-site, the carry revealed what I suspected: it would be extremely buggy – mosquitoes were already swarming me, even before I stopped moving. For the second time in this trip I opted to forego an evening with mosquitoes and to head for indoor accommodation, quite consistent with my stated intentions before starting. I continued, now paddling strongly, downstream towards Swanton, covering the 6.6 miles to the dam in 1.5 hours. I registered at the sign-in box, sent a SPOT waypoint, and set off carrying to the motel. It would have been shorter to carry from the Route 7 bridge east of town, but my intention was to reduce tomorrow's mileage as much as possible. The weather was promising to be wet and windy as I headed out on to Lake Champlain, giving me a sense of déjà-vu.

Highgate Falls Dam

Swanton Dam

There was a room available, although I still remain perplexed by how this motel can charge so much more than others I have visited for no better service and amenities, well over twice as expensive as Jackman, despite a 10% discount for NFCT members. Still, a shower was very welcome, as was a night away from mosquitoes, even if my neighbours carried on loud conversation just outside for quite some time. Viveka's advice for tomorrow was to stay put in Swanton – the weather was going to be by far the worst of the trip so far. Would I listen?


Website design & Photography © Peter Macfarlane

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