Mack’s CRPT Through-Journey
I write my journal each night when it is still fresh in my mind and emotions of the experience are still with me. Writing my journal is probably one of my least favorite things of a trip, but long after the trip is done and I review my poorly constructed notes, it takes me back to the moment. This was my journey.
Saturday May 29, 2021
Day 1 14.7 miles, 14.7 total
Met Brent at 9:00am at the Old Saybrook Point parking lot just above the mini golf coarse. We loaded the boat and gear and headed for the Canaan, VT access put in. Note: Had planned to start in Pittsburg but that 9 mile stretch the water was too low with exposed rocks. Started paddling at 3:30 pm and the water was very low in Canaan with hardly any current. I set camp just past Columbia bridge access on a small island after just 4 hours. I useded my new tent setup and I need to adjust my routine for something new. Took way longer than I like for setup but I’m going to try. Spaghetti for dinner, put 1/2 cup too much boiling water and it was soupy. Tomorrow will be better
Day 2 43.2 miles/57.9 total
Way colder than I packed for. By early am I’m fully clothed with my dry pants on and rain jacket in my sleeping bag. It was one of those nights sleeping so close to the river, everything gets dripping wet. Today I started at 7:am and enjoyed the class 1 rapids even with low water and exposed rocks. I was able to maneuver ok. Both Lyman falls and Wyoming Dam portage I was able to line my boat river left. It started raining early afternoon and it’s forecasting more rain tomorrow. Hope that give me some more current and cover those rocks. This section was even slower. My tent went up easier and I added my Big Sur footprint as an extra rain cover just in case. Hope I don’t get so cold I need my drypants and rainjacket again…. Their wet from the rain. Mac and cheese for dinner and I’m exhausted and out of shape.
Day 3 30 miles 87.9 total
Rained all night and even with the extra cover there was more water in the boat. Sleeping bag was the worst for getting wet, but I think I’ve got it figured out for night 3. Seems like néw gear and different routines always take extra time. Today’s paddle included two portages over large dams. The putin at Gilman Dam was 30 yards of sharp rocks and I’ve already lost tons of gel coat, so I managed to use a fallen tree the some loose limbs to roll my Kruger across the rocks without loosing too much paint. Water is still low and slow but the rain is helping. Not an enjoyable day paddling, with a mix in 8 hours rain and a sore out of shape body, I’m a mess. I put up the new sail but never got enough wind. After a mile or so I stowed it away. When I train at home paddling up stream, I make better time than on this river!About mid trip I met a couple shore camping and visited for a bit. They were celebrating their 50th anniversary by paddling 200 miles. They had already dumped 2 times and took 2 hour to portage Wyoming dam. I’m imagining after they get to those rocky portages they’ll be lucky to make year 51. Lol. Time for beef stew and a good night sleep.
Day 4 37 miles 125 total
Before noon I had portaged Comerford Dam, Mcindoe Dam and Ryegate Dam. The next portage is almost 60 miles. After Rygate the current picked up for a short while and then by the narrows it was just flat water. The sun came out and I’m starting to get things dried out. Finished paddling at 7:00, so pretty much 12 hours with 3 portages. Thank god for advil. Tent was good last night and tonight with lots of daylight, I was able to do some housekeeping and organizing. Overall a much better day. Beef Stroganoff for dinner.
Day 5 36 miles 161 total.
Ideal paddling conditions today. It would be nice to have the wind at my back , but I’m not complaining. Beautiful country with lots of bridges. With Vermont on river right and New Hampshire on river left, who owns the bridge, who pays to maintain it? By 10:30 I was pealing off layers and working on my tan. When passing through Hanover, I stopped at the Dartmouth paddling club and filled my water jug,,, do you think it will make me go faster. Shortly after another dam portage and then another and then UGH! I had enough and just set camp at the waterfall on the beach. Tonight is fettuccine Alfredo with chicken.
Day 6 35 miles 196 total
Started out with no current and it pretty much stayed that way all day. The head wind picked enough to have some whitecaps but I know it could be much worse. Tried shore relief and it seems like this river has no mercy. I had to dig deep to finish the last 10 miles to bellows falls portage. So tired I passed up the grocery to go downtown. When I got to the downtown turnoff the bridge was closed to downtown. Set camp around 7:00pm with radar showing rain by 9:00pm. It’s lasagna with meat sauce for dinner.
Day 7 43 miles 239 total
Woke this morning to alarms going off and a loudspeaker announcing they are about to release water from the dam. I casually prepared my oatmeal and hot chocolate then packed up to depart for some fun. I could see the river went up substantially but current was not detectable. Within 1/2 mile my GPS was clocking 10.5 mph and I was smoking down the river. Even after the surge ended I had 20 miles in by noon. Glassy water and no wind. What a difference. After the Gilmore dam portage I started to look for camping spots. Ended up at Munn’s Ferry Campground completed with a leanto. After settling in a couple showed up and said they had reserved it for the weekend. I started to move everything and Dave said stay where you are, we will move in after you leave in the morning. What kind people and he works as a ranger? and knows lots of same people I do at nfct. Small world. Time for Advil and chil Mac with beef.
Day 8 36 miles 275 total
Had a really hard time sleeping in the leanto…..miss my boat. Woke by 5 and put on the water for oatmeal and hot chocolate. Paddles in the water by 6:30 and it was nice and cool with heavy fog. Not breaking any records today and taking it easy. Forecasting 12 mph west wind so an early start helps. After 8 miles I reached the 2.8 mile turner falls carry. On the way to the take out, I met and paddled a short time with a local who had a nice Kevlar hornbeck canoe. Other than the takeout had no sign and the new app dumped me out at an impossible take out. I circled back until the edge of the park where I had a flat muddy take out, but at least no huge sharp rocks. Then it got hot, really hot. At the last street before the Putin I needed to find a fresh water source for my 5 Gal jug. A nice couple was out in their yard working and I got a chance to use their hose to fill my water jug. That water proved to be so valuable with the mid 90 heat wave.
At the Putin the were no signs but a local showed me a semi steep short hill down to the water. Then he said, if you go down the trail it leads to a flat sandy beach. I’ve said for years don’t get directions from locals! His path had trees down, washed out path and way too long. Never again. Then at the put in there were 3 directional choices to go. Even with looking at maps I took some wrong turns. Ugh! After getting back in the right direction , then came the motor boat and jet ski traffic. Way too much testosterone!! It’s Saturday night, holiday weekend and there must be 500 people on shore and in boats. So I joined them! Set camp took some Advil and it’s creamy macaroni & cheese.
Day 9 51 miles 327 total
After dinner I checked the weather and it was still in the 80s. My tent was a cooker and the long sandy beach was calling my name. Swimming never felt so good. Talked with Chris G and we discussed tide effect after Hartford. High tide was around 1:45 pm and good till 9pm So I started at 6:15 and other than another unmarked take out, I finished Holyoke 1,5 mile portage in 45 minutes. Note: at the take out you can turn right and follow a long narrow path, or go straight over the foot bridge right up to the paved road. Last official portage of the trip was enfield dam portage. Portaging even one more small one wasn’t appealing at all, so I slowly approached river left and saw the line to safely make it through. I glanced up to the opposite shore and saw a pair of emergency vehicles that had their lights going! Hope everyone is ok Just past the breached dam the water current pickes up and lots of gravel bars with only a sliver of an opening to get by. More technical than the dam in my opinion. Got I love my Kruger Sea Wind boat. I have great vision and it turns on a dime. Very handy running these ripples. Never once any issues reading the river. The fast water ended and then the heat and then the boat traffic. It’s mid 90s and I’m totally covered with protective coverings, even wearing gloves for protection. Must have drank 6 liters of water from the nice couples hose. Finally pulled over after 51 miles. Other than a muddy beach and my first mosquitos of the trip, I feel like I’m getting in shape. Tonight I repeat my favorite demners. chili Mac with beef
Day 10 39 miles, 365 total
When I finish paddle for the day, I send out a SPOT message (emergency notification device) that says I’m setting camp and it shows my GPS location. Shortly after I sent the message Tim Lewis sent a text and said I’m only 1 mile from where he lives and wanted to join me. I started at 6:30am and within minutes he was paddling up to meet me. Had a nice conversation and by 8:30 I was off to the finish. Making decent time until I hit the narrows where Tim warned me the incoming tide would be stronger to paddle against. It wouldn’t be until 2:pm before I noticed some change of tide going out but by now there are whitecap headwind that totally negate the current. In ten days, not once did the wind get behind me and help. My speed is down to a crawl, and somehow either I read it wrong or my app have me the wrong mileage last night. I now have an additional 18 miles or 39 today after 51 yesterday. 90 miles in 2 days, did I say headwind yet!! Buy now I’m praying (with lots of 4 letter words) for the wind to stop and sure enough the last 5 miles was better. I was glad my car was still there at the take out and it time to pack up and move on to my next adventure this weekend.
I started paddling in my 50s and when I retired at 59 I knew it was my passion. Now at 66 with over 13,000 miles I feel like I’m only getting started.
Coming from a career of setting goals then planning, preparing and training to accomplish that goal, it is a rewarding experience and I highly recommend it. If you are one of those “maybe someday people“ don’t procrastinate because life is just too short, set a goal… you can do it.
A life without a goal is like a ship without a rudder.
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Story submitted by Mack Truax. Paddled by canoe, May 29-June 7, 2021.