Would you rather have bugs or rain?

Ahhh, the eternal question on the minds of all people recreating in New England at this time of year:  “Well, would you rather have mosquitos or rain?”.  I found myself asking the question out-loud to my friend Nate Podsiadlo as we made our way from Attean Pond to Rockwood Landing from May 25th to May 30th.  The purpose of our trip had many layers, scouting future projects along the trail and assessing signage and campsite conditions were tied for first.

Nate Podsiadlo-Paddler extraordinare
Nate Podsiadlo-Paddler extraordinaire

In the course of 4days I had the opportunity to cover all of NFCT Map #10.  For me, 70 miles in 4 days can only be achieved with the help of modern advances like the airplane.


Steve Coleman, a lead forester/land manager with LandVest, took me up in this plane to do a site visit at the dam at the southern end of Spencer Lake.  The dam was constructed after our map was published and we are currently working to create a managed portage route around.  It sure was interesting getting a “birds-eye” perspective of such an interesting, and for most part wild, piece of the trail.  I felt very fortunate to be exposed to Steve’s knowledge of the area.  It was easily tell that with the thought he put into scouting portage trails and his knowledge of the history and the lumber of the area,  he is a good land manager.  Much thanks and appreciation to all the landowners out there that make this trail possible!

I have been really antsy to explore this section of the trail because we have had some reports from through paddlers about confusion on the portages from Fish Pond to the Moose River and the Demo.  I can assure you that our Stewardship Crew will be working to make the portages more obvious this season, for more information about these sections you can see our “Trail Updates” page on the NFCT website.

I basically stepped from the plane into a canoe as I met up w/ Nate at Attean Landing.  Myself and Nate attended Unity College together and there hasn’t been a time paddling with Nate that I haven’t learned something about paddling, poling, back-country cooking, or life in general.

Once we left the Sally Beach campsite on  Attean it rained for the next few days.  Our “bugs vs. rain” debate ended with the realization that it was easier to dress for rain.  We were both relatively comfortable if you disregard the constant head wind and occasional white cap crossing Long Pond.  We stayed at a campsite on the north shore of the Lower Narrows.  It made for a nice reprieve from the rain.

Looking back on Long Pond
Looking back on Long Pond

The next day we got to the Demo Bridge where we eddied out to assess the situation.  The painted rock gauge was telling us the river might be a little boney as it was about zero.

Painted Rock Guage
Painted Rock Gauge

As we were scouting the Class 3-4 rapids just below the dam, a pickup truck pulled up.  An older gentleman got out and began using sign language to communicate with us.  He made pretend he was paddling in a canoe and then motioned that he was cutting his throat which we interpreted to mean that he did not suggest running the rapids.  We took his dramatic advise and lined our way through the rapids and small falls.

Demo Bridge Rapids
Demo Bridge Rapids

We scouted the Demo Road Portage to determine where the confusion was coming into play.  The route description on Map 10 is accurate.  I believe people may want to leave the portage early because it is a long portage and there are a couple of on the ground features like grown in logging roads and small or seasonal streams that are not shown on the map that could entice portage go-ers to turn too soon.  At the time of our trip there was still a trail marker where you make the turnoff of Demo Road, so for those making the portage: stay the course and have faith, the turn should be marked.  Our stewardship crew will be working to make this turn even more obvious this season, please keep the feedback coming!

The rest of the Moose was a blast!  We would paddle fast water, eddy out, scout what was ahead, and make our way again.  The Brassuas were filled with head winds and we battled our way to the recently installed Brassua Island campsite.  What a unique place.  A small island with a picnic table, sign in box, fire ring, privy-box and tent site.  We saw remnants that the last guests left behind.  It wasn’t litter, but a goose nest right under the sign-in box.  If anyone has the opportunity I would suggest visiting.

Goose Nest
Goose Nest

The next day we portaged around Brassua Dam and made our way through fishermen on the Moose River and on to the Rockwood Landing.

What portaging in the rain looks like, notice the lack of flying bugs
What portaging in the rain looks like, notice the lack of flying bugs

So, in retrospect a big “Thanks!” goes out to Steve and Nate for seeing me through Map 10 and sharing so much information.

Next post:  The Stewardship Crew (They’re out there)…………….