Monday, September 13, 2010

Alamoosook Lake

Basics: Take Hatchery Road off Route 1 and 3 in East Orland, follow signs to Craig Brook Fisheries. Fair amount of parking, changing rooms, pit toilets, picnic tables by the beach. Flush toilets in Visitor’s Center.
As you pull into Craig Brook Hatchery, the first thing you notice is this grand sculpture.

Salmon have always been important in Maine. In the 1850’s 25,000 salmon a year were harvested from the Penobscot, but soon after the numbers began dropping. By 1871, the drop was significant enough that three states; Maine, Massachusetts and Connecticut, built the first salmon hatchery at Craig Brook. Unfortunately releasing a few fish, or even hundreds of thousands, couldn’t mitigate the effects of pollution, dams and over fishing. By 1947 no commercial fishing was allowed on the Penobscot and from 1957 to 1970 no salmon was taken by rod and reel. The Clean Water Act brought some recovery and by 1982 close to a 1,000 salmon were migrating up the river. But there the numbers stalled. This year, only 1,200 salmon were counted in the Penobscot; despite the efforts of the Hatchery which released 7.5 million salmon into seven Maine rivers. Maybe once more dams are removed and better fish ladders installed things will improve. In the meantime, here’s a reminder that there are many jobs that seem futile, but all you can do is keep trying and hope that eventually things will turn around.
We learned a lot about salmon in the free Visitor’s Center, which is open most days from 8AM to 4PM. There are posters, interactive displays, a film, young salmon in a simulated brook, and larger fish in tanks.

The Atlantic Salmon Museum, out back was not open, it was a small building with mostly a display of fishing gear.
The grounds of Craig Brook Fishery are what makes the location ideal for visits; nature trails, a pond and a lake to swim in, picnic areas, both near the parking and set off in secluded locations by the lake shore. It would be a great place to spend a hot summer day, paddling, swimming, relaxing.
We were just visiting for the afternoon though, touring the Visitor’s Center and paddling. Alamoosook Lake is lined with granite. Huge boulders decorate the shores and islands and small sharp pieces line the shores. Quartz can scratch glass, plastic boats stand no chance against it.

Not a good location to drive your kayak up onto shore. We launched by carrying the boats out to deeper water and getting in there.
We paddled out to Loon Island, where a tree was just starting to turn.
A cottage is hidden in this view, the owners request no trespassing. We wended our way through the other islands on the north side. Great Pond Mountain is in the background.

Then under this bridge, which I guess can take a car’s weight, and up Dead River.
The water level was too low to allow us access to Moosehorn stream.

It was a cool day, but eventually the sun peaked out, and this turtle climbed up to take advantage of the warmth. I don’t know how she got up on that branch.

When we made it back to Alamoosook the wind was blowing and there was some slight chop. It’s nice that it is finally cool enough that we can paddle without overheating.

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