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Collin Blunk

Collin Blunk lives for adventure. He spends every possible free moment in the great outdoors; paddling on the ocean, hiking trails, climbing mountains and spending as many nights under the stars as he can. Collin is a writer for TheWildOutsiders.com where he has dedicated his life to the pursuit of the outdoors. Moving region to region, he tackles every worthy excursion he can find and documents them for readers. As an authority on outdoor equipment and outfitting, Collin is the man to know when it comes to adventure in your region. Visit www.thewildoutsiders.com to see his experience tackling the New England Adventure Bucket List.

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Posted: October 19, 2016

Northern Forest Canoe Trail, Week 6: A wet start and a weather delay on the way to the West Branch

Written by: Collin Blunk
Beautiful evening on Moosehead Lake. Photo by Collin Blunk

Beautiful evening on Moosehead Lake.
Photo by Collin Blunk

Week 6 of my Northern Forest Canoe Trail through-paddle presented many highlights, as well as a couple of devastating obstacles.

Having successfully made my way through Spencer Stream, I thought I was in the clear. That is until I found the hole that Spencer’s rocks had presumably gnawed into the hull of my boat.

While dragging my kayak over a beaver dam on Fish Pond, I noticed that it was feeling unmanageably heavy. To my displeasure I discovered my bulkhead was flooded and my gear swamped.

I worked quickly, pulling everything out, spreading the items across the beaver dam to drain and dry. Luckily, the only casualties were foodstuffs, but now I was stuck in the middle of nowhere on a beaver dam with a broken boat.

My stress level was high. I did the only thing I could: grabbed my roll of duct tape and began meticulously patching the hole. Unsure of the effectiveness of this remedy, I took great care going forward with my tail end. Disaster avoided for now, I carefully continued onward.

Morning haze on the Moose River. Photo by Collin Blunk

Morning haze on the Moose River.
Photo by Collin Blunk

The next move was a required logging road portage to the Moose River. Here, I found pleasantly adequate water levels, lovely intermittent ponds and lakes and eventually some light whitewater before making my way to Moosehead Lake.

I was welcomed to Moosehead by the demanding cliffs of Mount Kineo and uncomfortably high winds. After a resupply in Rockwood, I was able to make an evening crossing to the Kineo peninsula. The next morning, I was up at the crack of dawn greeted by a bright pink sky.

I made the short hike up to the top of Mount Kineo before taking off for the day. When I reached the top, I could see the enormous, unsheltered expanse of water I would need to cross for my journey. It was already rampant with whitecaps. I should have known: “Red sky at night, sailors delight; red sky at morning, sailors take warning.”

The crossing wasn’t going to happen, so I succumbed to my second zero-progress day of the trip.

Stormy weather on the Brassua Lakes. Photo by Collin Blunk

Stormy weather on the Brassua Lakes.
Photo by Collin Blunk

This stroke of poor weather continued into the following day, when I attempted to push through the unrelenting winds but was stopped in my soaked tracks, ultimately losing progress. I would be forced to spend two days pinned down on Kineo until the weather cleared up on the third day.

I was able to continue my journey across an eerily calm expanse. It was an unreal experience, gliding through the vastly open and exposed mileage of the now-sleeping giant. I was all too familiar with the potential energy and chaos that could be raised from its depths and was happy to finally be in the clear as I reached the take-out point.

I portaged over the historically significant Northeast Carry at the northern end to the West Branch Penobscot. That is where I find myself tonight. A bit delayed but happy to be making progress again. Life is challenging but always full of adventure on the Northern Forest Canoe Trail.

canoe-trail-mapEditor’s note: Collin Blunk, a contributor to MaineToday Magazine, is on a month-long solo kayak trip on the Northern Forest Canoe Trail. The 740-mile trail starts in New York’s Adirondack Mountains, passes through northern New England and Canada and ends in Fort Kent. These are his dispatches from the wilderness.

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