We drove along the pitch black road already dark from the night sky, canopied by tall trees. We knew we were really in the woods when “High Hit Area” signs with the symbol for deer lined the road. It was one Canoe 52 adventure after the next in early July 2016. After returning from our trip to Pittsfield, MA it was time to reload the car for canoeing in Rangeley, Maine.
My brother Chris works for the fabulous outdoor retailer LL Bean. The Bean has an employee only campground in Maine that we were lucky enough to take advantage of for the weekend of July 6th – 8th. With the Old Town Canoe (our favorite LL Bean purchase EVER!) strapped to the roof rack we made our way north after finishing up work for the day on Friday. First stop…the Harpoon Brewery of course! We grabbed a couple of pints and snacks before making the final push to Maine.
The entire drive was only a little over five hours. With my horrible night driving and the threat of moose and deer, we creeped along for the final hour or so, but arrived in time for some late night fireside fun. My brother and our friend Mike had already settled into the amazing three bedroom cabin we would inhabit for the weekend.
Paddling Lake Rangeley
Our plan was to wake up in the morning and hit the lake right after breakfast. With Bloody Mary’s in hand we were ready to go. Tony and I put our canoe in right outside of our cabin, Chris and Mike used solo kayaks provided by LL Bean. We may have been there on the second weekend of July, but leave it to New England, the temperature of the air was in the low 60s. Flannel required! A storm was also brewing in the distance. The lake was super choppy, which can be dangerous if you are not navigating properly. Kayaks and canoes can easily tip if you don’t position yourself to cut into the waves. Taking a wave on the side of the boat will leave you soaked or possibly worse off than I’d like to imagine.
I’m a huge fan of choppy paddling. It gets my adrenaline pumping, you have to think on the spot and communicate effectively with your paddling partner. There’s a lot of talking (sometimes yelling) when Tony and I are navigating waves and windy conditions. From the bow (front) of the canoe you really feel the difference from calm seas. You’re bobbing up and down; sometimes slamming the water after a big wave comes through. You’re also bound to get a little more wet than usual if the waves break over the tip of the canoe.
We circled around the first large island and made our way back to shore. The clouds were getting thicker and sprinkles were beginning to collect on my glasses. We finished the weekend with some s’mores around the fire; well the non-pescatarians did at least, and card games during the rainstorm.
We waited for some fun wildlife sightings like the ones people listed in the cabin guest book, but no luck. The most incredible part of the trip was sitting around the campfire in the darkness of night and hearing the call of the loon out on the lake. It’s almost haunting, but it removes you from the stress that’s constantly buzzing around in your head and sucks you into being present with everything that surrounds you outside. It’s hard to explain, but it makes the night seem limitless.
The salt ponds of Southern Rhode Island.