07 September 2010


I began writing this while sitting at a table in our campsite at Churchill Dam, but didn't get very far. The sound of the Allagash water running through the dam was loud, but not overly so, and very steady. From where I was sitting I could see the dam and the museum on the east side of the river. The museum (once a storehouse)and another large, now-abandoned, building behind me (a boarding house in the day)are the only buildings remaining from a logging complex on this site known as Churchill Depot, a rather large and thriving community in the 1920s and 1930s.

In addition to the sound of the Allagash, a soft, slow rain made a wonderful noise on the tarp covering the table and fireplace. It was a sound completely different from what I would have been hearing had I been in the tent writing. It had been a busy day to that point with paddling in the morning, setting up camp after lunch and practice on the river before free time.

So, the practice. Colin and Alana presented an overview of how to read fast water, what to do in the case of a tipped canoe (and what they would be doing) and then had us put the canoes in the fast water on the downstream side of the dam. There we practiced ferrying (crossing moving water without losing ground), prys and draws (to turn the canoe quickly), eddying in and out of the current. Most important? Don't follow to closely, if in trouble blow the whistle attached to one's PFD, have fun. Yeah, right. The thought crossed my mind that we won't know how well we learned those techniques during our practice session until we're put to the test in the Chase Rapids tomorrow.

Needless to say, a nap called after all that. Then it was time to begin supper. That activity is well underway in the photograph below.

This is Alice helping with the prep work for our meal of Gado-gado, an Indonesian stirfry, featuring lots of fresh vegatables and a tantalizing peanut sauce. We finished the meal and finished cleanup before dark descended -- no headlamps necessary.

Seems as though practice in camp is paying off. I do hope the same holds true for our pre-rapid practice in the water earlier in the afternoon.

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