Monday, July 12, 2010

Around Orson Island

We launched from the Old Town Boat Launch, located on Fourth Street by the Elks. Lots of Parking, but no facilities. There is a nice public restroom in downtown Old Town, on North Main Street right by Riverfront Park playground. It’s heated in the fall and cooled in the summer. But it is not always open as early as we like or as late in the season as we like. Stillwater Avenue, running from the highway has a variety of fast food restaurant as well as a Hannaford, all with restrooms.

We went counter clockwise around Orson, a hard mile and a half against the current and the rest downstream. There is a squeeze point to be wary of though, about a mile up, just after the beach on Indian Island. After a heavy rain storm or in the spring the water can rush through there at 3 to 4 knots. One of our friends is so nervous about the squeeze point that she only does the circumnavigation clockwise. Even then it would be best to let the weaker paddlers ride down through the squeeze first, because you might not make it back to help them.

Generally this area is rich in eagle sightings, but not on this hot morning.

Rounding the west side of Orson, we went by Socks Island. All the islands in the Penobscot River are a part of the Penobscot Indian Nation and all request no trespassing.
Right before the Twin Islands there are two picnic tables on the mainland. These are part of the Cutler Family Land which was donated to Old Town for use as a park.

We paddled between the Twins, in the delightful cool shade. Overhead a family of four Kingfishers darted back and forth noisily, making sure we planned no harm.

At the end of the Twins we were greeted with a display of water lilies.

Then it was back to the steep banks of the side, where many animals, mostly beaver live.
The water was crystal clear today. At one point we passed over a huge crop of fresh water clams, a treasure trove for any raccoon.

Where Route 116 crosses over Birch Stream is an unofficial launch point and potential resting area. Several cars were parked there and a boat was launching. We saw five or six fishing boats, leading us to believe Monday is fishing day on the Penobscot.

The supports for the old Veazie Narrow Gauge railroad remain on the river, and in a few cases provide the foundations for houses.

These trunks bear witness to winter struggles.

This tree refuses to give up.

DeWitt Field is home to many float planes.

I often think of the Orson trip as a good location for fall foliage and eagle spotting. Evening trips in the summer are good opportunities to spot beaver. But our trip today reminded me that even without those attractions, Orson Island is a scenic adventure.
Old Town is justifiably proud of its waterfront and has arrangements with several guides to introduce visitors to the area.

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