Friday, May 20, 2011

Paddle to the Sea

Paddle to the Sea by Holling C. Holling was one of my husband’s favorite books growing up. It tells the story of a small carved Indian in a canoe who makes his way through the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean.

Our journey would be smaller than that, tracing the Penobscot from the head of the tide to Penobscot Bay. Like many trips, it was envisioned on a dreary winter day as a great activity for early spring, four quick day trips leading down the river. Unfortunately as spring wore on it became more and more obvious that we weren’t going to get four days in a row to paddle, instead, we spread the trips out. So, if in our photos you see the leaves get bigger and greener (and eventually turn crimson), it’s not due to the increasing salinity, but rather because it is getting later and later in the season.

Trip 1: Penobscot Salmon Club to our landing in Hampden. 8-9 miles High 11AM, launch 11:30, finish 1:15

The Penobscot Salmon Club allows hand carried boats to be launched there, just below Treats Falls. An alternative launch site, if that location is closed or the water levels unsafe, is beside the Sea Dog in Bangor. There is an outhouse on site and plenty of parking.

We launched on a gray day with a brisk wind from the north. Mark and I had both worn extra clothes in the car, thinking we would shed them before paddling but the chill wind changed our minds. The icy water raced by my feet as I readied my boat to launch from the small beach. I’d been paddling without waterproof shoes for weeks by our house, but this swift moving water reminded me how cold the river remained.

Treats Falls, and Bangor waterworks are shown below. Be sure also to check out the photos in Caution

In no time we were off, racing by the amalgamation of buildings which is Eastern Maine Medical Center. There is an old section
And newer sections

Meanwhile in the river, stealth buoys poked above the water before bowing again to the unceasing force of the currents.
We rode by the railroad bridge, whose center abutment had an iron bar to protect it.
Meanwhile, at the mouth of the Kenduskeag a train crossed a different bridge.
Nearby Public Works was wrestling the Bangor docks into place.
South of the 395 bridge were some of the many young cormorants who will spend breeding season in the Penobscot River, out of the way of the older birds.
Along the shore lay the remnants of some old industries

Nearly hidden (in that photo) is a newer industry, Cianbro.  Across the river in Hampden, Hughes Brothers always reminds me of a model railroad set
With the recent rains, all the streams were running high, so the river was bounded by waterfalls.
Not that the extra water always led to pretty results, the Penobscot is bordered by unstable bluffs of rock and clay. Many trees were passed were leaning far over, and soon would tumble.
Once we passed into Hampden/Orrington, most of the houses were built further back from the river, allowing more natural views.
It was a great ride, when you look at the time recall, much of trip I was taking pictures, so the wind and current gave us a real boost. If you don’t happen to have a house in Orrington or Hampden other locations to pull out are the Hampden Boat Launch (about 4 miles down) or the Orrington Boat Launch (about 11 miles down)(links)

The Penobscot River Keepers  also do a Paddle to the Sea type events every spring, sharing different sections of the river with students hoping to connect them to the rich heritage the river holds.

1 comment:

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