Monday, April 10, 2017

Remembering Trips to Maine's Allagash Wilderness Waterway

Maine’s Allagash Wilderness Waterway (AWW) is often described as the prime jewel of Maine’s wilderness paradises. I have had the privilege of spending three different weeks, paddling and camping in this unique wilderness area.  Each of the three trips generally covered the same 100 or so-miles of the AWW watershed.

Each trip was planned and guided by Master Maine Guide, Linwood ”The Loon”. Of special significance to me, is that each trip included my son, Timothy. Good friends, John K, Joe R, and Harry, went on two of the trips. Dundee, Paul, Eric, Lennie C, Pat, Rick, Lennie #2, and Jim did one trip.

I composed this montage using pictures from the three trips. My initial goal was to create a 20” x 16” canvas to share AWW highlights in a manner all trip participants could relate to each trip.

I wanted each person on a trip to be in the canvas, and each picture had to generate a unique AWW memory.
The pictures
In the center is a map of the Allagash Wilderness Waterway in northern Maine bordering Canada.  One of the exceptional themes about the Allagash is it flows northeast.

  1.  Linwood and Betty (upper left).  Betty did not go on the trips, BUT, without her behind-the scenes work beginning months before the actual trip, and then the after-trip cleaning and repacking of equipment, these trips could not have happened.  Think of the time it takes to prepare food for a weeklong trip for six to eight people.  Examples of the meals were lobster, steak, breakfast choices, “How do you want your eggs prepared?”, and campfire charcoal stuffed Cornish hen in a can with peas, potatoes and onions – one can for each of us!
  2. Truly we experienced five-star meals. Packing seven days of three meals a day – in coolers (upper right) named for the rivers Linwood and Betty have paddled.  And the coolers contained no ice!)
  3.  Chase Rapids (below Linwood and Betty) is five miles of class 2 rapids. This picture shows us transferring our gear from our canoes to a ranger van at the head of the rapids.  We paddled through the rapids without fear of losing our gear.
  4. Tim and Steve paddling over Long Lake Dam.  Think of the portage time we saved!
  5. Bottom Left – the 2001 crew after a week in the Allagash Wilderness Waterway
  6.  A selfie as the 2001 crew enjoy morning coffee at Round Pond. We are looking at two moose across the Pond.
  7. A mother and her calf viewed on our 2009 trip.  We stopped counting moose at 25!
  8.  Bottom center. Our 2001 trip experienced a canoe rescue in the middle of Eagle Lake.  Fortunately, “The Loon” in a prior trip had us practice canoe rescues – and within 5 minutes after this trip’s spill, our trip continued, losing only a six pack of diet soda.
  9.   “The three cousins” at the top of 40-foot Allagash Falls.
  10.  Bottom Right.  Two rusted locomotives from 1900 used for transferring logs from one lake to another to the Penobscot River paper mills.
  11. Paul and Dundee experience spruce gum.  All first-timers on our trips must experience spruce gum – as chewed by local Abenaki Indians.
  12. Crew poses with canoes for the Father-son 2009 trip (plus driver friends to take us to the put-in and then drive onto the town of Allagash to leave trucks for us to drive back at end of trip).
  13. Middle right.  The 1998 crew before Leaving the Allagash Wilderness Waterway.
  14. The eagles were always plentiful.  A joy to experience our national bird.
  15. The steak (plus one hotdog for Dundee)
  16. Folgers Black Silk coffee.  Steve always had one cup of chocolate for breakfast. The rest of the crew would have one or two cups of coffee. The morning routine was to have breakfast with coffee, stow our gear and pack the canoes, and after checking the campsite was without trash (leave it better than we found it), and the fire was out and watered down, we put-in our canoes and away we paddle.  Well, on this trip, after the coffee pot was empty, we made second pot for all.  Our put-in for a long-day of paddling was getting delayed because of Folger's Black Silk!
    On the third morning, Steve began to wonder why everyone was having a third cup of coffee.  So, Steve decided to skip his chocolate and instead have a cup of coffee – and he had one cup – then a 2nd cup, and then a 3rd cup.  The Folger’s Black Silk was delicious.  On all our outdoor trips since, Folger’s Black Silk is a MUST.

For more Allagash videos and stories by OutdoorSteve:
  • The Ballad of the Allagash Wilderness Waterway
    This  Allagash Wilderness Waterway Ballad video was prepared from participants’ memorable moments of expeditions guided by Registered Master Maine Guide Linwood Parsons and his wife Betty.
·    Reflections on the Allagash by Timothy Priest. Tim has been on many wilderness paddling trips guided by Master Maine Guide Linwood “The Loon” Parsons and his wife Betty “The Chickadee”. Tim shares his reflections of Linwood and Betty and his seven Maine North Woods trips.
·    The Allagash Wilderness Waterway: A Father-Son PaddleTen of us just returned from paddling the Allagash Wilderness Waterway (AWW) in northern Maine. The 100 or so miles of the AWW is composed of streams, rivers, and lakes. This was a father-son trip with four dads and five sons. Linwood "Loon" Parsons ( was our guide. Loon’s knowledge of the history and special sites around the Allagash meant many side trips and unique Allagash lore.

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