Monday, August 1, 2011

Blessings abound

Great news to share this Monday morning, thanks to the gifted and energetic young people in my life. The silent auction finished up around noon on Saturday, bringing in a whopping total of $700. The top bids were $100 each for Jane Tedrow's colorful batik quilt and $100 for a night's stay and gourmet breakfast at the Inn at Round Pond. Thanks continue to go Skidompha Library and its giving staff for hosting the auction, to Megan for her leadership, and to all the willing donors and bidders.

Last night during the concert intermission, Kathy Malatesta surprised me with a very special and meaningful gift...a quilted wall hanging of the Paddle for Hope logo, which I plan to display with some of my favorite photographs from this summer.  I don't know when I have gotten so excited over a surprise...surely a gift that I will treasure for many years.

Last evening's concert was fabulous, featuring a broad mix of classical and original compositions, on the organ, piano, and marimba, as well as much entertainment from Timm Gormley and Mitch Boucher in introducing their selections.  It turns out that Mitch is the son of friend Deb Boucher, who has worked with the Sunday School at the Edgecomb Church...a fun connection.  My concert favorites were both composed by our musicians: Spring Meditation by Timm and Ocean Prelude by Mitch.  As I sat listening, my mind filled with memories from the trip...fog rising in the early morning, the deep green vividness of the firs against a pure blue sky, a snowshoe hare reaching up to nibble some leaves, totally relaxed in our presence.  An evening of joy and especially so when we added up the donations and realized that we were 559 dollars closer to our goal. Bill Bausch has shared some photos, as my camera has still not recovered from its swim in Chase Rapids on the Allagash.

Honored to be with two very generous friends, Timm Gormley on the left and Mitch Boucher on the right.  This concert was their idea, a surprise for me when I arrived home, and yet another example of trail magic, as Appalachian Trail hikers have named all of the unsolicited help that kindly people provide along the trail.

Timm in action on the marimba, which we learned has been played for thousands of years, often for background music in religious settings.  Among other offerings, Timm played a violin sonata for us on this instrument that shares the same overtones as the violin, viola, and cello. 

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Big fundraising weekend

Tomorrow evening, July 31, Timm Gormley (left) and Mitch Boucher (right) are giving an evening of their time and considerable musical talent to Paddle for Hope.  Their benefit concert will be held at our church, Second Congregational UCC in Newcastle, beginning at 7 p.m.  Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and admission is by donation; checks should be made out directly to "MCCP" with "Paddle for Hope" in the memo line.

Timm has been a friend for a long have seen him here in the blog as the artist for the PFH logo and also as the author of the note I found in the Hurricane Island journal on Flagstaff Lake.  Mitch is the latest in a large group of people who I have met through this effort and who have given generously of themselves to help children with cancer.

Here's some more information on what is in store tomorrow evening (from Mal Gormley's press release).  The concert will feature music from all periods, as well as original compositions for xylophone, piano, and organ.  Timm Gormley of Damariscotta has played the marimba/xylophone since his early childhood.  He has received musical recognition at regional and state honors festivals and currently studies with Portland composer/teacher Brad Ciechomski.  Mitch Boucher of Edgecomb is newer to the musical scene, learning to play the organ and piano in just the last few years, largely on his own.  Now a student of noted pianist Sean Flemming, Mitch brings an insatiable passion and talent for his musical performances.

Megan's silent auction at Skidompha Library is in its final hours and the bidding on many of the items has been spirited.  When the library closes today at 1 p.m., we will tally up the results and start calling the lucky winners.  A special thanks to Jane Tedrow, who donated a very colorful batik quilt just prior to the auction start...the highest bid on the quilt was $100 when I visited the library yesterday.  The night at the Inn at Round Pond was also at $100, another very generous gift.  Well, off to Saturday errands... 

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Safely home

Home now for a day or two and busy with the many details that were put on hold during the journey, among them finding a new vehicle to drive and catching up on all the work responsibilities.  Thought I'd quickly share a few more favorite photos from among those that have been uploaded so far.  My camera (which took all of these) met a tragic end in Chase Rapids on the Allagash.  And it wasn't in MY pocket at that moment!  
Early morning merganser with large family of little ones

Our fundraising thermometer stands at $7,850 currently, and I have some contributions here and around town that I will be gathering up and sending in tomorrow.  Exciting news also that there are three more fundraisers to support Paddle for Hope, thanks to the Bremen Union Church and the amazing young people in my life.  My daughter Megan will be holding a silent auction at the Skidompha Library July 26-30, with lots to bid on (dining out, electric trimmer, mini golf, lodging, and much, much more).

Grasses on Umbazooksus Stream

My aunt, Sue Sefcik, celebrates the successful crossing of Moosehead Lake on a windy morning

The Bremen Union Church had a nice surprise for me when I got back to my computer and their weekly news.  They have been holding a bottle drive on our behalf, which is ongoing.   Returnable bottles and cans may be dropped off in a big barrel at the church.  (And I'm excited to see you all tonight at Bible study!!)
Dad and Taylor with the locomotives at the Eagle Lake tramway

Bumble bee on lupine
Here is a link to this week's Lincoln County News article, which we wrote in the truck on the way home Tuesday.  Thanks to LCN for extending their deadline for our late-breaking story.  The article has a photo of me at the kiosk marking the eastern end of the NFCT, a moment that was certainly full of gratitude and accomplishment.

The final(?) fundraiser will be an organ, piano, and marimba concert at our church, Second Congregational UCC in Newcastle, on Sunday, July 31 at 7 p.m.  This musical evening will feature Timm Gormley and Mitch Boucher, both talented young musicians and students at Lincoln Academy.  (Timm is a good friend and did the artwork for my logo.)  There is a heart-warming, overwhelming feeling to think of how many, many people have helped with Paddle for Hope, probably almost everyone I know and quite a few that I didn't know! 

And, speaking of meeting new people, we arrived in Fort Kent at the Northern Door Inn to find that Team Moxie had finished the entire NFCT on the same day as I did.  Check out their blog, Moxie's Great Adventures, to read more -  We spent a long time on Tuesday morning sharing stories and I even had my picture taken holding Moxie (their 4-pound Yorkshire Terrier and the first dog to complete the entire NFCT).  Those pictures are not available yet, but look for them sometime soon.  Justine and Tom had seen the note I left for them in the Hurricane Island journal on Flagstaff Lake and we had such fun meeting in person.  Well, off to another busy day, but more soon.

Rounded a curve on the Moose River coming into Long Pond, to see this darling baby with its mother

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The end is in sight

This is an update from me myself...first chance on a computer in 28 days.  Thanks to the amazing hospitality of Sue and Wade at Two Rivers Lunch in Allagash, where we are renting a cabin for the night, I have some time on a laptop.  Also, a shower, and a bed, and a kitchen to cook in, with running water and a stove...I could go on and on.  Enough to say that for now we are safely here, after many adventures and much beauty and we will be home on Tuesday, July 19.  Thanks go out to all who have been working to support Paddle for Hope and to all of the new friends I have made all across Maine.  Look for much, much more as I start writing in earnest in the days ahead, as well as sharing some of my favorite photos.  From the banks of the Allagash,  Laurie.  (Just have to add that I walked back to the cabin and Sue had delivered some warm brownies to our cabin.  People have been so friendly!)

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Wilderness beauty and companionship – Spencer Lake Dam to Jackman

My adventures on the Dead River have taken some of my confidence, for better or worse, and I have decided to alter my route… same mileage, but going around the upstream section. Rode to the top of Fish Pond to camp at the wonderful campsites there. I would have felt better if I had a reservation, although it was deserted.

                The following 17 – mile day took me down to the Spencer Lake dam and back, after sharing my breakfast time with a moose, the second of my trip. This dam has been rebuilt and is 20 feet high, requiring a scramble of a portage over high granite rock. These lakes are pristine and the epitome of Maine wilderness. The last few miles were a portage out of the Fish Pond campsites, across the Fish Pond bridge, and just past the POW campsite, which was full! Hid my boat well (wonder why?) and camped on a lovely woods road.

                There followed two fun days with a good balance of weather, adventure, food, and even a very satisfying shower. Portaged to Spencer Rips fairly easily, met my daughter Megan, who brought some wonderful stir fry, and tales of life in the real world. We camped at my favorite, Attean Falls, and completed the rest of the trip to the Jackman bridge without incident, leaving Megan at Attean landing. Our time together was all I wished for: great video of her running Attean Falls, a moose that she spotted, and no rain (no sun either!) And here I am camped at Moose River Campground about to venture in solitude again.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Danger and discoveries – Rangeley to Grand Falls

                As you will read, many of my camping nights have not found me exactly where planned. The Rangeley Logging Museum made for an easy start to Section 9, packing up nice and dry under the pavilion before an early-morning rolling portage to the Dead River. My wheels have performed superbly. The frame still looks new. It has solid tires, and the thin traffic often allows me to roll on the road for good stretches.
                The Dead River… what a challenge, made more uncomfortable by much rain. As you start, the river is calm. Saw a spotted fawn and spared some time for fishing – trout after trout on a grey Rooster Tail. There the easy ended. From a mile past Dallas Bridge, to about 3 or 4 miles before Kennebago Road Bridge, there were lots of shallow spots, some areas of strong current, and a number of rapids, which my boat handled fairly well. (On the Fansanger Falls portage, the beginning of Quill Brook Rd. was 0.4 to 0.5 miles along on Rt. 16, but there was no road sign.)

                Back on the river and about 5 miles before the Kennebago Bridge, after the rapids were behind me, I had begun to relax after so many times in and out of the boat. Rounding a curve to the left,  a wide sand bar, the current carried me into a large dead tree. Although I was safe, my boat flipped and was pinned under water and upside down against the tree. The afternoon was growing late and I had been trying to reach the bridge. Now I knew I would be grateful just to free the boat without having to use 911 on my Spot. I tried sawing on one of the branches, I pulled, I strained, and I certainly prayed one of the more desperate prayers of my life. Trying another angle, I heaved straight up into the force of the current and it began to give…. inch by inch until it was free.
                Taking stock, I was cold and numb and had lost my GPS (tied to the boat), Tevas, a water bottle, a sock and the foam in the bow of the boat had been torn loose. I camped right there on the sand, finally getting warm in my sleeping bag. The next morning, sore and battered, I finished that section, and began portaging to Stratton to avoid the rapids below.
                Mom and Dad were headed home that morning and I sent them a “help” message. They caught up with me halfway to Stratton. Leaving my boat for a couple of hours, we rode to the White Wolf Inn for lunch and to reserve me a room. Their helpfulness and hospitality abounded, especially after we found that the boat was GONE when my parents brought me back to where we had left it! After a 911 call, deputy report, and facing the fact that my trip was most likely through, the news came that two “helpful” fishermen had picked it up and called a game warden. After all that excitement,  my shower, dinner, bed, and sleeping-in in the morning were life savers. I will be eternally grateful to my parents for all of their help… Dad even loaned me his GPS.

                Well, this was supposed to be the short version of events, so here are the highlights of the rest of Section 9 to Grand Falls. Flagstaff Lake could be reached by a small stream behind the inn. My day and a half on the lake saw a return of the sun, a surprise message for me in the Hurricane Island journal (where I camped), watery foundations, and friendly couple, Carly and Charlene, who were staying at the Flagstaff hut.
                The takeout for the Long Falls portage (short carry, then good road) is very close to the dam, not the path you see first on the left. Put back in at Big Eddy campsite. Dead River is wide and calm after the tumult of Long Falls – heron, mergansers and a family of river otter squawking and popping up and down to look at me. Muscle spasms in my back were very painful by the time I camped at Philbrick Landing. The mosquitoes and black flies for the next several days were terrible!

                The beginning of the Grand Falls high water portage is before the island. The first 0.3 to 0.4 miles is a carry, which my tired body took slowly. After that, there are yellow signs on every road! The correct route is: trail, then left on a dirt road which is marked with a portage sign, right at first intersection in spite of signs, and continue to the river. Grand Falls was impressive; then came lunch, a swim and a relaxed wait at Spencer Stream parking lot for my loyal support team.

Monday, June 27, 2011

All that I dreamed it would be...

The Rangeley section (Map 8) of the NFCT certainly lived up to my expectations... 46 1/2 miles - 41 by water and 5 1/2 by land. For now, here are just a few highlights. More later, as I plan to post a daily journal when I get home. I started on the Magalloway River at the Umbagog Wildlife Refuge Headquarters. Crossing Umbagog Lake in a strong NW wind, my boat handled well, sliding over the waves and getting me to Cedar Stump, where I camped at the bottom of the Rapid River. It was rapid, with some serious rapids! I, however, was portaging upstream. My cart worked fine, with all but the first 1/2 mile wheelable. I had so been looking forward to Forest Lodge and arrived just in time for a wonderful home-cooked breakfast. Chuck Ward was fly-fishing there and gave me my first on-the-water donation.

The Richardson Lakes are connected by the Narrows, where I saw the first moose of the trip (a young one), and camped the second night. Then it was on to Mooselookmeguntic, where I enjoyed the hospitality of Paul and Janie Hartman, son Jeff and grandson Joshua, who rode in the the kayak on the Oquossic portage. Boy, did I love their hot outdoor shower with a view of the lake. Paul Hartman kept me company the next day all the way to Rangeley State Park, where Mom and Dad were waiting with the first resupply. Crossing the rest of Rangeley Lake was a combination challenge and a breeze. The weather, after several days of gorgeous sun, turned rainy the night before, but I made it into Rangeley and the end of Section 8, feeling blessed by the weather and good friends along the way.