It was a funny spring weather-wise. At the end of the first week in May there was already very low water in all the rivers of northern Maine. We had just enough water to paddle the St. John River. By the time we had covered the 113 miles from Baker Lake to Dickey, the water had dropped significantly. I’ve never seen Big Rapids, the last few miles of the trip, so low. There was a whole ledge at the Big Black Rapids that I’ve never seen before since it’s always been covered by a foot of water. As you can imagine, the low water made things more challenging.
Then there were the headwinds. We had great weather for the trip, but there was a headwind that sometimes blew me back up the river. On one day it was so strong that I couldn’t descend a rapid. The wind kept me stationary. My solution was to kneel in the bow of the boat and paddle downstream. I was paddling an 18 foot boat solo, so it must have looked quite odd to see me descending a rapid in such a manner. I’ve never had to do it before, and hopefully never will again.
But somehow we found enough water to have several great trips. The low water just meant our second trip was a poling, not a paddling trip. We changed our location and went on the headwater streams of the upper Aroostook River. The day we put in the water was really low, but overnight rains gave us just enough water to navigate with a pole.
We finished the trip and the course with a burger at the Masardis Trading Post. If you’re ever passing through Masardis, stop in for a bite. Great food and great people.