Peter Macfarlane's 2023 Solo Paddle of a Circuit of the Androscoggin, Kennebec and Dead Rivers
in a Cedar-Strip Canoe by Otter Creek Smallcraft


Day 16

19.9 miles

Monday 5th June

Rangeley Lake State Park - Lower Richardson Lake


Day 16 route on Google Earth imagery

Only two things disturbed me through the night: the sound of continuous rain falling on the tent a little before dawn, and the sound, a little before midnight, of something apparently breaking rocks with its teeth. I never discovered what the latter was. At 5:00 am when I arose the rain had stopped, at least for now, and my paddling clothes, which I had lain on all night, were warm to put on, all except for the soggy boots. I packed while breakfast water was heating on the gas stove, listening to waves still being driven ashore by the wind, albeit not furiously.

When I pulled away from the State Park dock at 6:30 am, having left the tent cleaner than I found it, there was little wind, and the waves from the northeast were hitting me on the beam. I set a straight course to the northwest, aiming at the centre of Oquossoc Bay, Oquossoc being a little village between Rangeley and Mooselookmeguntic Lakes. The nearer I drew, the smaller the waves became, now being in the shelter of the north shore, and in a little over an hour I took out at the boat launch. The 1.5 mile carry along the road to the west revealed a rare sight: the flag at Haines Landing hung limply and Mooselookmeguntic Lake was flat. After following the east shore a little way, I set a course for Brandy Point, a long traverse of a wide part of the lake. The wind picked up a little, and the farther south I went the larger the waves became. Several lent themselves to surfing, and I enjoyed a number of short rides where I probably reached at least 6 mph.

Rangeley Lake under cloud

Mooselookmeguntic Lake with minimal wind, for now

Around Brandy Point I was once more sheltered, and remained so to Upper Dam. I took out at the boat dock, only finding later that the canoe take-out was 100 yards farther, in the corner. This carry is, however, not a long one, so an extra 100 yards was not onerous. A quick saunter downhill to Upper Richardson Lake revealed another shock: it too was flat, nothing like the heaving mass of waves that I have encountered on my three previous visits.

Approaching Upper Dam

Upper Richardson Lake, also calm

After a snack I set out at about 10:45 am. Light rain had begun to fall. I once more took advantage of the calm conditions to steer a course down the middle of the lake, aiming for the bend into the narrows. Despite my previous visits, the length of the narrows surprised me but, about two hours after leaving Upper Dam, I entered Lower Richardson Lake. In short order I rounded Jackson Point and pulled into a camp owned by Pete, a friend of Ray's. It was early, and I had been thinking about pushing on to Errol, but I was cold again, and the lure of a roof over my head was irresistible.

Approaching home for the night

Home for the night

I had stayed here with Ray, Hildy and Viveka in 2012, and then on both of the my NFCT through-paddles. This was my fourth visit. Now wind had wreaked havoc. A large pine tree had fallen across the path to the camp, and another had fallen close to the end of the little shack, its branches adorning the deck and almost blocking the door. But I managed to navigate a path, found the key in its thankfully reliable hiding place, and moved into the shack. Warm, dry clothing was the first requirement. Perversely, as I was changing, the clouds lifted; there was even some brief sunshine. This nearly tempted me to set out again, but with no guarantee of a roof – I had insufficient mobile signal to search for accommodation in Errol – I made the decision to stay put, and brewed some tea. My father had a maxim: if in doubt, have a cup of tea. His consumption of tea suggested that he spent a lot of time with a lack of certainty.

Once more I retired to the sleeping bag for warmth, and got up later to make a meal. My collection of birch bark and wood was sufficient to light the wood-stove, but the water content of the wood was too great to sustain the fire. The gas cylinder was running low, so I was glad to have at least pre-warmed the water on the wood-stove. Having arrived here around 1:00 pm, I had killed time, but it was still ridiculously early when I went to bed at 7:15 pm.


Website design & Photography © Peter Macfarlane

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