|Swans Falls on a the Saco|
I looked in the rear view mirror as I crossed over the Massachusetts line into New Hampshire, and saw the sun just beginning to rise. The traffic heading south was bumper-to-bumper, but fortunately I was heading north for a few days of paddling in Maine with my friend Jonathan.
Since I missed the Allegany camping trip with the RICKA Wilderness crew, I had hoped to squeeze in a few days of camping before winter set in. Jonathan, who recently retired, was more than happy to join me. Unfortunately, a forecast for cold and rainy nights convinced us that day-trips from Jonathan’s house in Wiscasset, Maine would be a more comfortable option. The plan was to start in Fryeburg for a trip on the Saco River, and then head east for a trip on the Sheepscot River in Wiscasset with its famous Reversing Falls.
with Jonathan in Conway to check out the Conway Rips (a small class II
rapid) before heading over to Fryeburg to run the shuttle. As we paid to leave
a car at the Swans Falls Camping Area, the attendant looked concerned and commented that
it “might be a little cold on the river today”.
“No problem” said Jonathan, “we have our drysuits”.
The Saco River arises from Saco Lake at Crawford Notch in the White Mountains and flows 136 miles generally southeast through New Hampshire and Maine before emptying into the Atlantic Ocean at Saco Bay. There are several exciting whitewater runs on the Saco as it tumbles down the White Mountains, but today we would be paddling the flatwater section below Fryeburg. This is an extremely popular run in the summer when hundreds converge on this section of the river for weekend camping and paddling trips.
What is now the "official" course of the Saco River was actually constructed as a canal in the 1800’s to make transportation on the river easier. The 6-mile long “Canal River” is 15-miles shorter than the “Old Course”, which still twists and turns to the north, reconnecting with the “Canal River” a few miles below Fiddlehead. I paddled a mile or so up the “Old Course” just to say I did while Jonathan did some fishing.
We awoke the next morning to frost and a temperature of 28˚. It was nice to be in a warm house rather than a cold tent. We had a leisurely breakfast waiting for the tide to come in before heading out to paddle the Sheepscot River from Sheepscot to Wiscasset. This section of the Sheepscot River couldn’t be more different than the section of the Saco that we had paddled the day before. While the Saco was a beautiful freshwater river, this section of the Sheepscot is a saltwater estuary – wide, windblown and subject to the tides.
A Bald Eagle followed us as we paddled back up the Sheepscot River. By the time we reached Sheepscot Village, the Reversing Falls was flowing. Surfing the waves would have been a little too much for our tandem canoe, but I’d like to come back with my whitewater boat sometime. It would be fun trip for a summer afternoon when the inevitable swim would be more enjoyable.
|Reversing Falls at low tide|
And by the way, with these trips in Maine, I've now paddled in all six New England states this year - first time I have done it!
|Reversing Falls with Jonathan's trusty Explorer|