Tonight I find myself stealth-camped on the northern border of Maine, on an island in the St. John River.
This will mark my final evening on the Northern Forest Canoe Trail. I will spend it feasting on the final items in my food bag, soaking up my last riverside sunset and reminiscing about the amazing lengths I have gone to get to this point.
Tomorrow I will set out for Fort Kent. Only 16.5 miles lie between me and my final destination, and my excitement is hardly containable.
My final week on the trail brought me through one of Maine’s most spectacular gems, the Allagash Wilderness Waterway. Here I enjoyed abundant sunshine and a magnificent palette of peak fall colors.
Solitude was the name of the game throughout the Allagash, interrupted only by the occasional moose and one unbelievable instance of trail magic. After setting up camp at Round Pond one evening, I was kidnapped by the kind folks at Jalbert’s Sporting Camp (one of two historic sporting camps still in operation there), who saw to it that I would eat well that evening.
They brought me to the 1940s camp and fixed me a massive steak dinner with all the fixings. They listened to the tales of my travels and shared many of their own. The following morning for breakfast, I was treated to another unbelievable spread, a treat that I had become quite unaccustomed to during my two-month stint of dry oatmeal. I was shown unbelievable compassion and friendship in a place where I thought I would find only inner reflection and isolation.
Water levels along the Allagash River were low but adequate, reducing my lining efforts to a minimum. After a messy and mucky portage over the infamous Mud Pond Carry and a lively and heart-racing run of the Chase Rapids, I enjoyed a laid-back pace throughout the rest of the Allagash.
The St. John River, the final body of water on the Northern Forest Canoe Trail, greeted me with adequate water levels and many playful Class I riffles, which I enjoyed immensely. Nothing could phase me during these days, and the fact that I am actually going to finish this ever-changing obstacle course seems almost unbelievable. I will sleep easy tonight, knowing that my journey is finally coming to an end and that my first shower in over 52 days is right around the river bend.
Editor’s note: Collin Blunk, a contributor to MaineToday Magazine, set out on the Northern Forest Canoe Trail in August and has been documenting his trip with dispatches from the wilderness. The 740-mile trail starts in New York’s Adirondack Mountains, passes through northern New England and Canada and ends in Fort Kent. After 52 days on the trail, he completed the trip on Oct. 6.