Tuesday, August 28, 2007

August 23, 2007

From Old Forge, NY. Waiting on locksmith.

A great friend, Spoonman, summed up his 2005 AT thru-hike by saying it was all about MANAGING DISCOMFORT. This discomfort can take on many forms for many people in many different endeavours. What Spoonman said resonated with and will stay with me until they throw dirt in my face.

Discomfort, setbacks, mistakes or hard times are as much a part of any long distance endeavour as they are in life. We all experience them. We all experience them. How we manage them is the only thing that differentiates us from the next fella that loses his wallet, his paddle, his hiking sticks or his job.

I appreciate the kind emails offerring encouragement and support while I splash along North during this padddle and soon trudging South for my hopeful conclusion of the AT thru-hike. The emails or voice mails, believe you me, seem to always come at a most crucial time. My only hope is that I can be as supportive, encouraging and understanding of others moving forward. Might this be THE most important lesson?

Along the Northern Forest Canoe trail I have had some setbacks, endured discomfort, overcome bad decisions both in the water and on the ground and hit emotional breakpoints. I am no different than anyone else who has attempted this trail or any other. But we perservere in the end and more importantly when we are in a pinch. Some of us finish, some do not. Some, regardless, get what we are looking for and others have only had their palate teased and will move on in search of another journey. I fall somewhere in between.

I am excited to soon be paddling the last 160 miles or so of the NFCT up in Northern Maine. With some help shuttling I might add some more miles. I also am excited about hitting the AT again and seeing all of its' splendor. Also, I am curious to see how my legs and lungs will fare after all the water time.

When this season is over and I head back West, to begin working and saving, I will not stop thinking and planning my next adventure. There is just too much beauty out there in the woods for me to just read about it in a magazine. Our life is pretty short and we all want to make the absolute most of it regardless of where that occurs.

Doing this paddle solo has really taught me about interdependance and while I am fortunate enough to possess a support net that ranges from sea to shining sea, I have proved to myself that I can survive, that I can work through a problem by assessing, planning and executing. Of course I can and do still whine from time to time. Perhaps, the whining puts us on notice that a change to a situation is imminent and most necessary?

I met John Aralia the other day while getting on a bus from Gorham, NH. We visited the whole time and wound up splitting a rental car. I arrived here last night, we camped and early this morning John headed back to NJ. He had just completed the IAT, SOBO and is already planning his next adventure which may be a hiking trip across Ireland. We are both cut from the same stock. We both have the same spirit and lust for adventure. He has hiked many long distance trails and had great stories. Our meeting was truly fortuitous.

One more note on fortuitous meeting... From Groveton, NH I recieved a ride from a guy to Gorham, NH where I hoped to hop a bus the follwing day to Old Forge, NY. We got to town and John dropped me off in front of THE BARN hostel. I saw Mr. Smoke (2004 AT) walking from the hostel to his truck. We had not seen each other since Trail Days. In a NY minute I was in his truck visiting with he, Mrs. Smoke and 2004 Socks. We had a bbq and visited that night, had ice cream, talked paddling and watched aconcert in the park. The next morning we got up, had breakfast, visited and Mr. Smoke drove me to the bus stop. What I did not know, is that they are avid paddlers and have had many experiences paddling in Maine. They gave me tips on the Allegash and shared their stories. Great people, great friends. I am the luckiest guy in the world. And now, if Paris Hilton would come paddle this last section with me, I'd be so close to complete.

Happy Trails,
Totally Different Subject

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Bear - The Morning After


Its 9:20am , I just woke up and am still in the sleeping bag. It got cold last night and if like the night before down in the 30's. I am with a 40 degree bag and a silky. With long johns, socks, stocking cap and down jacket on I still was cold. But no more bear encounters. Food bag still in tact besides the lousy hanging job.

This cold spell is making me nervous. If this change in temperatures remains then I wonder if there will be enough time to finish. Its late August and with 5.5 maps to go on the paddle and 800 miles left to hike I figure I’ll be at this into November. Hopefully, this is just a cold front and warmer temps will come back for awhile before fall sets in, in earnest.

There is an open air privy here and it will get used before I break camp.

More later today...

8-20-07...still. Ammonoosic River, close to red dam, which is being taken down. I will not have to portage around this one, just paddle through the open gates. 16 long, hard miles today.

On the water by 11am. Late. My neck is killing me. Took ibuprophen this morning. First time all paddle.

The river was shallow and meandering in the beginning and surprisingly pushy. Eventually it opened up but remained shallow. Scratchy paddling, lots of walking my canoe and many trees in river.

My good Sawyer bent paddle may have seen its last day. Too bad. I loved it. My backup paddle, well a backup and short.

I saw a lone loon this afternoon. She almost seemed tame as she let me get very close, within ten feet. Don’t get me wrong, it was a narrow part of the river and I pulled over but she would not move. I took pictures but they did not come out good. My camera needs some work, maybe a lens buffing and the guts air dusted or perhaps trashed. It was so cool being that close to that bird. Its like we bonded. Loons are much bigger than you would think. Their black and white color

Against the water makes them appear much smaller. She had red eyes and seemed to yawn several times, I knew exactly what she meant. No kidding, but at one point she stuck her leg back and out of the water. Unbelievable and I wonder why that. A treasurable moment to say the least.

Percy Peaks and Devils Slide stole the scenery award today.

Not much more to report. Not sure whether I will paddle North up Connecticut River, hitch a ride north to do Connecticut downstream or skip it and go back to Maine. Time is running out and my nightmares are about running out of weather on the Appalachian Trail.

Walked into Groveton, NH for dinner. Meatball sub, french fries, Coke and a couple innings of the Red Sox vs TB Rays.

Happy Trails,
Totally Different Subject

Bear Encounter

** Yesterday, in a trailjournal entry I said that I picked up the book, We Took to the Woods by Louis Richardson. This is wrong, her name is Louise Dickinson Rich. My apologies.

8-19-07. Sunday. By the fire alongside the Ammonoosic River, NH. Cordwell campsite...a first come, first served freebie. 24.3 miles today. 2 portages- 250 yds and 3.8 miles.

For breakfast this morning I had eggs, bacon, sausage, home fries, French toast, regular wheat toast and coffee all for under ten bucks. It was wonderful and just the nourishment I needed!

While I should not have, I took a zero yesterday because Todd and his staff at Northern Waters Canoe and Kayak, in Errol, NH, invited me to stay for their season end party. How could I say no? The guys were great and the evening’s menu consisted of Maine rock lobster, bbq ribs, corn on cob, bbq meatballs and blueberry pie. What a special treat!

We all hung out by the fire the night before after I only put in 10 miles due to a wrong turn on a 4 mile portage. The wrong turn cost me 6 hours. By the time I arrived at the dam and portaged around it I could only think of resupplying and a place to stay for the night. It was getting late and I got out to scout the rapids before taking the plunge. What I first observed where people camping along the river. Yes, I thought, so with no time wasted I went searching for the head honcho. He was Todd and once I introduced myself I learned that he knew of me. We shot the bull for several minutes and Todd welcomed me, invited me to hang out around the fire later and described where food, gear, ice cream and adult beverages could be found.

**I stopped typing so I could eat dinner- Mountain House chili mac. Once finished, the fire almost gone and no more firewood, I began preparing for bedtime.

As I was making sure the fire was under control I noticed eyes, two of them. So I stood up and shined the headlamp in that direction because maybe they weren't really there.

But they were and not 15 feet away, in some brush at the perimeter of this campsite and just 10 feet from my tent stood a bear! The bear was not fully grown and so immediately I scanned for another bear. None were to be found. Ol' scary bear did seem bigger than a cub, perhaps a year or two but I could not say precisely.

What am I going to do in this situation? No gun, no rocks, no knife except for a Swiss Army pocket knife. So I picked up my wooden paddle and banged it against the nearest tree. The bear was unmoved by this gesture. He seemed timid or curious, perhaps a wee bit scared but maybe I am just hoping so. I looked around and the only rocks were lining the firepit. They would have burned my hand severely had I had to pick one up. So I stepped towards the bear, partly out of curiosity but mainly to scare him off. This did not. He then stepped towards me and this afforded me a better look at his size. I was thinking jeez, what an inconvenient time to see the first bear of this paddle. I knew he could outrun, out climb, out swim and probably out paddle me. So loudly I said Leave! Again and even louder I shouted, Leave me alone! He was looking at my cook pot and then it occurred to me...the food. Was he just curious of my presence, was he hungry or not really and just wanted a ! Free dinner? I do not know. He turned and walked back into the woods.

I started using the courtesy woodpile I assembled for the next camper to stoke the fire. Then I went to hang a bear bag, which has been the first of this paddle. Making sure all smellable items were away I then began gathering more wood to keep the fire going.

While searching for wood, I decided that perhaps I might need a weapon. I fashioned a spear by duct taping a tent stake to the end of the paddle. Like this will help in a fight but at least it is something.

This year while hiking the Appalachian Trail I saw a bear in camp close to morning and was able to chase him off. In that case, daylight was an hour away. Now I have about eight hours.

While looking for wood I saw bear dung behind my tent along with urine and wondered had he been watching me eat dinner? There are strange noises coming from the direction of my food bag.

**Back again and it is going on 11pm. I'd love to be asleep now but how could I? Every noise might be that bear or another one or hell, a whole crew.

I've got my spear handy, logs that could be used like bats outside the tent, extra tent stakes handy, Swiss Army knife opened and within reaching distance and denatured alcohol and lighter ready to use in a pinch. This is probably all overkill but it all gives me some comfort.

It really seemed like the bear was curious. It never appeared to be on either the offensive or defensive. But the whole encounter spooked me like no other time a bear came into my view. I sure hope they go somewhere else. There is plenty of food out there for them so why would they want all the msg and preservatives in my rations?

Totally different subject but the 19 miles of the Androscoggin River I paddled today was really fun. The rapids by the camp were CL II+ and roaring. I put in this morning where I took out and picked the wet line, just left of center. Per Todd the wet line is the one where you are most likely to get wet. After watching folks kayak and canoe that set yesterday made me excited for some more white water.

It feels like I got a lesson by listening to all the guides talk about the rivers and their experiences. Most of the guides were veterans of North Waters.

There were a lot of folks there that had, like me, happened upon the place, fell in love with the paddling and befriended Todd and the gang. They come back year after year for the paddling and the fellowship. At night by the campfire, they would play music and it was really good. These folks have played together for years and compliment each other’s style effectively. They even sang tunes, “Back to the Bar Room” and “Sing Me Back Home,” by Merle Haggard!

If you would like to take a lesson, use their guide services or camp you should definitely give them a call. Once I track down the number and address I will note in an entry.

Tomorrow, I will hopefully wrap up the Ammonoosic River and make it some way up the Connecticut River for another 20+ mile day. Leaving the balance of the Connecticut River to N. Stratford, NH where I will try to find ride back to Rangeley, ME. From there its NOBO and mostly downstream to Ft. Kent, ME, baby.
Happy Trails,
Totally Different Subject

August 16, 2007

Ed. note - TDS has been using the terrific email device Pocketmail, so he transmits journals via cellphone every few days. So in case you're wondering why this entry is from 8/22 but dated 8/16, he writes these while he's on the trail, but we ususally get them in big batches. -rg


From somewhere alongside the 3.2 mile portage from lower Richardson Lake, ME to Lake Umbagog, ME. 18.5 miles today.

Its pouring now, the lightning and thunder are in full tilt and rain is pooling at the perimeter of my rain fly. It started around 5:45pm and that is when I made my camp. No, I am not at a designated pay-for tent site on privately owned land. Thank God, I did not make it to Lake Umbagog, NH today, for their tent sites require a 3 day advance reservation.

Oh well such is life.

Mount Washington, NH in the White Mountains was visible today. It would have been awesome to be up there with clear skies and no rain. In fact, today I saw more of Mt. Washington then when I hiked over back in 2005. Again, the views were spectacular today.

Yesterday I noticed 4 loons hanging out in the lake. Maybe they were hunting food as a group because one of them was always on guard duty while the others submerged their heads or dived. It would have been great to have gotten closer. Today a lone loon lifted itself from the water, stretched and flapped its wings. How graceful and to see those wings spanned.

Also today I observed a seagull following right behind a loon. Almost like the seagull was trying to pick a fight. Pretty funny. Ol' loony kept diving and breaching and the seagull just kept following, never getting more than 10 ft behind.

Dinner is cooking now. Stove is going in the vestibule and rain keeps splattering into the stove and putting it out. Haha. 3 times I started the stove before I figured out what was happening.The water on Lake Mooselookmeguntic, ME was smooth and very accepting of my paddle. Made very good time. Amazing how drastic changes in the surface can be and how quickly. Just a 250 yard portage around upper dam into upper Richardson Lake and the surface conditions were choppy, with at least 2 ft waves. Nothing like Lake Mooselookmeguntic just minutes earlier.Wind against me for the rest of the day. But occasionally the wind would abate.

Tough paddling but I still made it through and in pretty good time.

The rain rinsed my keen water sandals. Next time I’ll rub a little dr. bronner's hemp soap in so they get washed.

A lot of my gear smells mildewy lately. Gosh, I hope it’s the gear and not me. It’s been awhile since I saw a shower.

Teriyaki noodles with veggies tonight for dinner. Another tasty dish by Liptons/ knorrs. Add bread and water.

Added duct tape and another "back-up" paddle before hitting the water.

The red squirrels around here do not have bushy tails.

Yes I am carrying dr. bronners soap. However, I have only used it while in towns.

To NH tomorrow by way of Lake Umbagog and down the Androskoggin river.

The AT is not too far from where I paddled today and when I was in Rangeley, me yesterday there were no hikers.

Time for dinner.
Happy Trails,
Totally Different Subject

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Paddling On

In Errol, NH.

344 miles paddled
386 miles to go
One month on water
8 zero days
13 more days to paddle in August and 5-10 more in September for a grand total of 18-23 days.

No matter where I am at I will attempt to be on Katahdin no later than Septmbr 15 and head SOBO back to NJ/PA border at DWG.

Please feel free to stop by http://www.trailjournals.com/bivinat07and I recently posted a thread to http://www.whiteblaze.net/.

Hope all is well. Things are well here and despite some setbacks and tough portaging, windy conditions and tons of motor boats. I am really enjoying this part of the woods. However, I really can not wait to get back on the Appalachian Trail for a grande finish to something I started several years ago.

I had to buy another headlamp today. Urgh! That makes two lost this year.

lots of loons, I have seen several moose and great views of Mt Washington the other day.

Take care and hope all is well.

My cell phone is dead and I will not replace until NFCT portion is over. Email is best form of communication.

You can also reach me at: jbivin2@pocketmail.com. I can retrieve and send emails through a payphone. Thus, this may be the best way as some towns may not have internet. Please cc: my jbivin2@gmail.com addy.

Love, TDS or Jason Bivin

Friday, August 17, 2007

Rangeley, Maine

8-15-07. from lake mooselookmeguntic, tenting at stony batter point, aprox 14.5 miles down from the putin at rangeley lake.

approx 310 miles, 430 left.

I got a ride from Richford, VT to Rangeley, ME so that I canoe downstream. Dale and Doug brought me this morning. We left Davis Park around 8:30am, ran some quick errands and were off for a road trip through VT, NH and ME.

We saw two moose today. The first was gigantic bull. He was walking back into the woods but turned and looked at us. he still had small and velvetty horns. man, he was large. the second a cow. it took us four hours and by arrival the rain had let up.

thanks guys! and they were off. a few minutes into prep I realized my pack was still in their trunk. oh sh1t I thought to myself. of all things to forget. immediately, 7i began to run from lakside park to main street in hopes i could catch them before driving off.

**totally different subject but did you hear Ron "Jaws" Jaworsky say "....matriculate the ball down the field..." on Monday Night Football (Den v SF preseason)? I did and I still cant believe my ears.

Dale and Dave were getting lunch when I found them. How fortunate that they had not already left town!

finally on the water at 3:45pm. Water had some waves and wind against me as i paddled West through Rangeley Lake. Bald Mountain, at 2443 feet, was my guide as i paddled west. nice campsite at stony batter point.

Happy Trails,
Totally Different Subject

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

August 14, 2007

Ed. Note -- due to popular demand, the poll has been re-opened. Friday is the last day, so as they say in Chicago, vote early and vote often!

from richford, vt. attempting to secure ride from here to Rangley, ME so I can do that section do1wnstream.

the morning of 8-12-07 I awoke to the sound of bacon frying and eggs cracking. Bill and Jean were making breakfast. remember, they offered me a piece of their rv site at Prouty Beach, the Southern part of Lake Memphremagog, because all the tent sites were taken. Bill, Jean and I had a nice breakfast and visit. Bill grew up right across the lake from where they were camping. we said our goodbyes and I paddled off.

Lake Memphremagog was huge and much bigger than I expected. The water was nice and cool and fairly calm. Wind out of the South but shifted and picked up as the day passed. There were TONS of motorboaters, ski-doo'ers and sailboaters on the water today, Sunday. many folks were also out in canoes and kayaks.

I crossed over to the Western shore first thing. The views In all directions were breathtaking. Mountains surrounded the lake and ridgelines in the distance were visible.
It was hot and I went through what seemed a ton of water. Sunblock slathering was how I spent rest breaks.

At the Canadian border, I phoned to report my entrance. Nobody was at Customs. They were nice and mentioned that only a few people ever enter here in a canoe.
Once across the border the lake shore homes decreased significantly in numbers.
I saw one loon today but was not able to get a great view and a picture might not have captured his likeness. I say "his" but it may have been "her".

The further North I paddled the rougher the water got, but hey if I can paddle across Lake Champlain...

Perkins Landing, Canada was where I stopped to wash my canoe, recieve a permit, filled waterb bottles and began the 5.7 mile Grand Portage to pick up the North branch of the Missisiquoi River. What work this was. The portage was over roads, not rocky tricky trails. It took 3 hrs and 40 minutes and I took 4 breaks. I might have relented and accepted a ride had one been offered but in the end I am proud that I survived.

I camped just after getting back on the river.

It stormed that evening. I got up, grabbed the rainfly and staked it down. The lightning, thunder and rain kept up for sometime. It was still storming when I fell back asleep but had stopped by morning.

With the sun out and a breeze I packed up wet and began the day hoping to make the 23 miles into Richford, VT.

Happy Trails,
Totally Different Subject

August 13, 2007


Richford, VT. Maps 1-5 completed and but for 18 miles on the Nulhegan River Map 6 is complete.

This day was a nice, swift ride downstream on the Missisiquoi River.

I stopped in the town of Mansonville for breakfast, coffee and water. What a great place for paddlers to stop. They had everything we need plus the folks were so nice and friendly.
I had a western omelet, add ham, homefries, toast and marmalade and coffee. DE-licious!
From here the river was nice and shortly I arrived at the Missisiquoi confluence. Smooth, quick water from here. An occasional island afforded me the chance to pick the side that might be deeper and faster.

A few rapids this day but the water levels were low. The last couple miles into Richford made for some scratchy paddling.

I stopped and reported back into the United States of America, at the village of East Richford, VT. The Border Patrol folks were nice and my check-in did not last long.
I got back to Richford about sunset, talked to some kids in the park who were riding bikes, put more clothes on and headed for dinner and a beer at the Ricochet Bar and Grille. Blackened Chicken strips and fries. Um, mum!

Today I met Carol and Jo at Vermont Peak Properties while looking for a ride to Rangley, ME so I can do the section downstream, from East to West or SOBO. Carol and I visited about the Appalachian Trail and NFCT.

I met Amber and Jill at the Richford House of Pizza, where they serve breakfast. They are helping with finding a ride and are also great folks.

For me to finish both trails and with time running out I have decided to attempt all remaining sections of the paddle downstream. This will require help with shuttling and such. If I can finish the paddle by September 10, get to Baxter State Park by September 15, I might have a chance to get through Maine and New Hampshire before the weather turns cold, wet and snowy. If I have to snowshoe through Vermont, well, I have the snowshoes. But I will be praying to Mother Nature for favorable weather and a mild Fall and early Winter!

What a journey this has been! I am so fortunate. It was nice to visit with HUNGUS who is taking some time off the AT to be with a friend. Good hearing from NOT YET and PACE HI POCKET and GREEN BEAN. And Thank You BRICKLAYER for the Prince song.

Happy Trails,
Totally Different Subject

August 11, 2007


from lake memphremagog, just 3.5 miles South of Canada border by water. tenting @ Prouty Beach. Town of Newport, VT.

18 miles and change today. a great day considering a paddle and my filson hat went missing. in todays last set of rapids, coming out of clyde pond, I bit the dust and hard. my canoe got beat up too. that royal-x material is the real deal!

all rapids before, I nailed. the water was fierce and the river was moving fast. water levels up.
paddling downstream on clyde river, North of Salem Lake I met some tough, rough water but stuck everything. at one point I could see a ledge coming up but did not have time or momentum to change my course so I leaned back like I was the man from snowy river, braced and paddled through it. half my canoe was airborn and I glanced back and saw that the drop was about 4 feet. man, talk about an exhilerating ride. I was yee hawing as loud as possible.
the highlight of my day was making it through the meandering boggy clyde river...with no wrong turns.

tomorrow I have about 10 miles of paddling up lake memphremagog and then a 5.3 mile portage to the North branch of the Missisiquoi. so some forty miles back to Richford, VT, downstream.

tonight I camp at Pouty beach on the lake and am right by the waters edge.
a women helped me find a replacement hat at the general store and said the hosts will find me, at Pouty beach for registration. if they dont then would this be considered stealth camping? if they stop by then I will pay the fee, if there is one. surely there is.

@@NEWSFLASH...the hosts stopped by right as I was zipping up. 22 dollars to tent but no sites were left. a nice couple Bill and Jean let me camp at their rv site.

this morning I was thinking of the stealth camping deal on this NFCT and I have not camped at a designated campsite or shelter more than 3 times this whole trip. mainly because once through the adironbacks camping is few and far between and I can not plan my days around this fact. this trail definitely needs more camping opps. how do we go about making this happen?
i am not complaining BUT gear manufacturers ought to refrain from using the words WATERPROOF or WATERTIGHT to sell their gear. when you dump your canoe or it rains all day, everything gets wet.

with over 4300 miles hiked and 300 miles paddling in the last 3 yrs I know of only 2 products that have stood up to test. Outdoor Research dry bags and a product called Dry Pak. if you think I am wrong, then prove me wrong by sending me your products. I will put them to the test.
3 portages today, .25, .25 and 1 mile.

I can not wait to see moose and hear the call of the loon. I wonder if the loon was ever considered as our national bird? A red squirell, from atop a downed tree in the river, watched me watch him today. I tried to talk to him but he never replied.

resupplied today at the local grocery store. hummus, fresh bread and some groovy asian dishes. granola bars, tobacco, and darn it I forgot olive oil.

my 2002 Playboy (Girls of the Big XII issue) got soaked along with a pound of venison. trash now.

the lake is beautiful at night and the sunset showed off some brilliant reds and purples. now, I am watching a real fireworks show. is it Canadian Independence day??

Today I sang songs Waiting For The Sun, Your Lost Little Girl and Moonlight Drive, by The Doors. Would love some black leather pants for Christmas in August!

Happy Trails,
Totally Different Subject

August 10, 2007


13 miles NORTH of Island Pond, VT, by water. Headed Downstream on Clyde River back to Richford, VT.

It feels good to be back on the water. It also feels good to know where I am. This time, I made the correct turn down the very narrow right channel after the tubes. The river did open up and the paddle through the bog was neat!

I canoed right past a blue heron and was so close that the bird could have turned and lunged at me. I would have gotten pecked to death, eh. It was cool to see the birds eyes.
I left Island Pond around 2pm and made great time, about 2.5 mph which feels much better than 1mph or less.

The four nights I spent in Island Pond were relaxing and I slept alot. The town folk were friendly and made me feel at home. Clyde River Hotel was homebase during the longgggg zero days. Ethel made great coffee each morning and was always a great resource. I enjoyed hearing about the river from Danny, the owner of the hotel.

A big Thank You to Mary Jo and Gang at the Bank. They helped me out in a time of great need.
Dinner is almost finished and I am looking forward to making some miles in the near future.
The nights are noticeably cooler, which make for great sleeps. In the not so distant future I will need to switch out sleeping bags and go with ye ol Western Mountaineering 20 degree. The water is also much cooler than a week ago. I wonder if this is because of the rain or if its just where the water is?

Thanks Pace, Green Bean and Hi Pockets for sifting through boxes to find my Birth Cert and ID.
Thanks Jenn, at NFCT, for your words of encouragement at a time I needed them most!
Tomorrow I am hoping to make it into Canada which will be a 20 plus mile day. I'm gonna need a bunch of 20 milers to make it.

One more thing...Go John Daly!! Hopefully you will go all the way this weekend and win your 2nd PGA Championship. If he does, he will have won both on Oklahoma soil.

Thank you Dick Wolfe, TNT and USA for daily mini marathons of Law & Order.

I just learned that a great friend is joining the Army National Guard. Congrats and Best wishes. My thoughts and prayers will be with you and your family.

Happy Trails,
Totally Different Subject

Friday, August 10, 2007

Tanned, rested, ready


What a week! I am completely rested and ready to move forward with the paddle. Yee haw!

From here, I will head back Downstream on the Clyde River, with Richford, VT in my sights.

Directionally, this would be considered a flip flop. To go Northbound, I would have continued paddling Upstream on the Missisiquoi River from Richford, VT, to East Richford, VT (Border town) into Canada. Grand Portage a 5.3 mile portage into Lake Memphremagogg, down the Lake back into the USA to the town of Newport. Then continue Upstream on the Clyde River to where I am at now, Island Pond, VT.

For the sake of time I am choosing to flip this section, 79 miles, so that I can paddle Downstream.

Once I have made it back to Richford, VT I will try to negotiate a ride back to Island Pond, VT where I would continue North, paddling Downstream, for the moment, on the Nulhegan River. If this river is still low, I will skip the section and try to get a ride to North Stratford, NH where I can paddle Downstream on the Conneticut River, which is a bigger water way than the Clyde River or Nulhegan. From North Stratford, NH I have approximately 20 miles Downstream on the Conneticut River to the Amanoosic River where I begin paddling Upsteam again to the Androscoggin River, also upstream to Umbagog Lake, ME.

My fingers are crossed that I can make good time, and make it down the Clyde River without wrong turns or directional challenges!

I will continue paddling until around the first of September. And I have come to terms with the possibility of running out of time and not completing the entire NFCT. But I have not given up and am ready to really push the envelope. It is very important that I finish a thru hike of the Appalachian Trail this year, all 2174 miles, my way as I came up 100 miles short in 2005.

Temperatures are getting cooler at night.

I look forward to seeing again my friends on the AT. Thanks PADDY-O for your help! Thanks ROB, CARLYNN, PACE, GREEN BEAN, HI POCKETS, CROSS STITCH, BRICKLAYER, SPOONMAN, PHOENIX RISING, MOM AND DAD for all your support.
So I will be looking for folks that might be able to help with shuttling in Maine in the coming future.

Please note that I have added Pictures to the trailjournal. Please feel free to leave a comment. Thanks Rob, the blog looks AWESOME!

One more note, for future NOBO NFCT paddlers, Island Pond, VT is a great place to layover a day or two. You can get affordable lodging at Clyde River Hotel and there are many eateries and resupply opportunities within a short walk from the hotel. Plus, the Clyde River is next door.

Thanks Danny and Ethel!

Happy Trails and Be Well.
Totally Different Subject aka Jason Bivin

Thursday, August 9, 2007

New Photos

1. Portage Sign on the NFCT
2. St Regis's Canoe Outfitters, Sarnac Lake, NY
3. Map Room at St Regis's
4. From the Sarnac River
5. Adopt-a-Natural Resource -- NFCT
6. TDS solo canoed through these rapids
7. Hero's Welcome, North Hero, VT
8. Missiquoi Wildlife Refuge
9. More Missiquoi River
10-12 Former roadie for Lynyrd Skynyd

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Sentimental Reasons, part deux

I wish I could go back in time, grab TDS by the shoulders and say "Don't climb up that tree!!! Stay out of the bog!!!" - rg

good day. 8-1-07. Enosburg falls, VT. 200 miles. Tenting at lawyers landing, the put-in following a short portage around the dam.

Today I saw the first bald eagle of this trip...up close. There was no mistaking this one for, lets say, an osprey. The eagle flew right over head and I got such a great view I could see his eyes. Wow. This was about 6pm, a mile south of Enosburg falls, VT.

What a tough day! My toughest so far. Started the day off carrying my canoe upstream instead of trying to paddle through rapids. What makes this so tough is your footing. Sometimes you see your next step, other times you don't. In both cases I just tried to land each footing and to do so require that I be flexible. I was fortunate to have only landed some cuts and scrapes. You also are constantly scouting the best route, which is always the easiest. Sometimes only my ankles were submerged and other times I could be chest deep.

The water was shallow enough that I spent most of my day carrying, or towing upstream as this section of the river is rocky and even a section not considered Cl II or more was unpaddleable. Is unpaddleable a word? This was exhausting work... but much better than portaging.

I did paddle through some tough currents and could just feel my muscles building. During these times I gave it all I had and more often than not I managed forward progress.

I wonder how I smell? And if so, is the smell similar to that of the river. Because this section of the missiquoi smells so foul that I was smoking cigarettes every half hour to keep from gagging. There are a lot of cattle and hog farms around the river. I know all too well what they smell like.

Hot today. I was slathering on the sunblock to keep the evil uva and uvb sunrays away.

No haircut or shave for me since March of this year. However, I do get in a shower every now and again. I have not done laundry on the paddle and am wondering if people notice????

There was a general store and ice creamery around Sheldon Junction. Just after a bridge. The folks filled my water jugs up for me. I had a PowerAde and strawberry milkshake. This made me think of Bryan Adams song Heaven.

I met a guy named David today from Bennington, VT. He was several days from concluding a 200+ section from ME to Plattsburg, NY. We visited for what seemed an hour. It was nice to see another solo paddler. We talked gear and systems. Pace are you reading...systems. We exchanged trail tips and updates, talked about portages, etc. David will paddle back home, down to Burlington after reaching plattsburg.

I got into town, portaged then found a convenient store where I purchased PowerAde, Water, Chips, Beer, and Roast beef sandwich. Walked back to lawyers landing ate dinner then set up camp.

Tomorrow I hope to upload some recent pics to the website, hit the grocery store and post office all after breakfast and coffee, of course.

Happy Trails,
Totally Different Subject

...for Sentimental Reasons

Here's what TDS wrote just a few days before he stared into the abyss. -rg

good day. saturday, 8-4-07.
10:05am. from Richford, VT. 7 miles South of the Canadian border, by water.
Not much progress over the last two days. Only 15 miles or so. Last night I tented in Davis Park, basically in the town limits of Richford. I was not planning on staying here but the weather prevented me from Canada.

A pretty good storm came down yesterday morning around 7:30am. Rain, thunder, lightning and wind made motivation to break camp difficult. So I spent the next couple hours inside my tent, dry. The storm let up and I hit the water.Only 8.5 miles yesterday and I carried the canoe upstream every bit as much as I paddled. While this is tiring work, it is part of the experience. And I am observing many characteristics of the river. It was about 10am when I started.

Around noon I decided to pull over since the thunder was only 1 second behind the incredible lightning strikes. So I got the canoe up on shore, turned her over and got underneath with all my gear. It seemed like the storm might last awhile so I added clothes for warmth and dryness...rainpants and jacket.The storm came and hit hard. Hail the size of a pea came down. The winds picked up to the point where I thought a tornado might touch down and blow all the water out of the river.

The brunt of the storm lasted an hour and the rain did not let up until 6pm. after a couple hours, soaked, I got back in the water. About half a mile from here the lightning, thunder and rain commenced. I started busting it to get to this park to try and wait it out before heading to Canada. By the time I got here, unloaded the canoe and made it to the park pavilion with gear it was around 5:30pm.

So I called it a day and headed into town in search of food and water.While walking up Main street I noticed a coin-op laundry-mat and a sign that read BAR and GRILLE. So I stopped in. pork loin sandwich with gravy fries, several beers and a good time. The Ricochet Bar had a band playing and the guys told me about the river. This was just what I needed after a day like that. Breakfast, laundry, grocery stop and I are almost ready to push off. Gear is drying, the sun is out and Canada is in my sights.Rain and potential for thunderstorms forecasted for Monday through Wednesday. Be well.

Happy Trails,
Totally Different Subject

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Survivor: Vermont

I am having some logistic problems currently... so far approx 250-75 miles paddled.

Made it to Enosburg falls, VT., Which had been upstream since Plattsburgh, NY (the mouth of the Saranac River into Lake Champlain). Once in Enosburg the heat began to wear on me. So the next day, Thursday 8/3, I waited until 4pm to begin paddling. Only made it 7 miles. Next day, waited out hella t-storm, 3 times. Lightning, hail, high winds. Only did 8 miles into Richford, VT. Tired, weary and on edge I stayed there that night. Next day, left again upstream on the Missisiquoi. Took an hour to barely make it half mile. It took everything I had to move forward and as exhausted as I was in just an hour I did not see the likelihood that I could continue another 80 miles upstream like that.

Just so you know, the paddle has got me in the best shape I have been in since working as a guide back in 95. Little jay would definitely have his hands full with me know. My point- I ain’t no weakling. So I turned around, paddled back downstream to Richford. ps. this took less than 5 mins.

Called paddy-o. He happened to be in Rutland, VT and came up Sunday to pick me up and drove me down to Island Pond, VT so that I could paddle these 80 miles upstream through Canada.

I had 5 awesome miles paddling through this floodplain bog through a river that was about 15 ft wide at the most. Most of the time the width was less than 10 ft. Water levels low and after paddling through a set of culverts the river closed in on me. In a bog, a flat bog. So I was having to get out of the canoe and hoist it with gear over beaver dams and blowdowns every 15 feet or so. let me tell you this is hard exhausting work trying to pull nearly 100 pounds up and over while having virtually no footing because you are sunk in moose muck to your knees. This creates a suction so it’s like doing leg lifts with weights pulling out of the muck. As I paddled and pulled further downstream on this winding river the river narrowed even more.

I was bushwhacking over clumps of vegetation trying to figure out what my next move would be each time. It started to get dark and I had no idea where I was at. So I decided to start looking for a place to camp when I realized that my bag which contained passport, wallet, headlamp, tobacco and notebook was missing. earlier, once I knew that there was a possibility that either a) I was no longer on the river, or b) the low water levels made this river nothing but a bog, I pulled over, grabbed my map case and bag to go up high on a hill to view the terrain I got stuck thigh deep in the muck.

So I threw that stuff back in the canoe. By the time I got unstuck I paddled over to the other shore. Found a tree. Climbed it and noted the pond that was on the map...which made me think I was where I should have been. Instead of climbing down I fell like 15 ft. Thank God the ground was soft because I landed straightlegged. Went back across and portaged backpack and thwart bag up a hill that was more than 45 degrees and there was no trail. So bushwhacking through this dense forest with keen water sandals, shorts, well, I was black from the moosemuck, blue from the bruising that had began in earnest and red from all the blood. Got camp set up, went to sleep. No fire, no dinner, no cigarettes, no cope.

Next morning woke up sore and worried about insidious infection from bog. Covered cuts in alcohol sanitizer and Neosporin and headed out to find wallet/ passport bag. No luck. After 15 mins of scrambling through brush, through muck, etc, I decided the wisest course would be to abandon the search and find my way out. So I went back to where I camped, walked the ridgeline until I found a road and marked my way back to the canoe. Carried canoe through that brush up that hill which was me kneeling, pulling the canoe with all strength, having to wedge myself behind trees for leverage. Finally on top and no energy left I began the portage along the same ridgeline until I found the road.

Once on the road and my bearings straight against the map I had a 2 mile road walk back to island pond. Was able to talk bankers into allowing dad to wire money without photo id. Found a hotel that was cheap enough.

Now I have to decide whether to continue on the paddle. Either way from here, island pond, I have tiny boggy river 40 miles both directions. This is the toughest part of the trail per Jenn at NFCT who I have been in constant communication with since the beginning. Once in Maine, it’s mostly all downstream and through many lakes. But just getting there which is just 200 miles away is gonna be tough and tedious and timely as the water levels are so low and this water way goes through bog.

I have several more days to consider whether I continue with paddle and either 1) continue from here, or 2) flip forward to a better stretch or to get back on the at and at least finish that. Obviously, the latter would break me as I really want this paddle. This is the toughest thing I have ever attempted. And out here I am by myself. Nobody coming up behind with my hat that I left at the last trailhead, no town to get to for rest when needed. And the kicker is that this is what I wanted and I CAN do it. Being in survival type situations like I have several times, lost in these bogs, are not too bad as I can stay composed. But you lose your cigs and have to go without because of no money is probably been the toughest thing of all. My cell phone reception is touch and go.

Take care and best of luck.

Jason aka tds

Friday, August 3, 2007

Enosburg Falls

good day and how are you?

8-3-07, 7am. 7 miles North of Enosburg Falls, VT. approx 16 miles South of Canadian border, by water.

Yesterday I waited out the heat, this morning I'm waiting out the rain.

The heat was oppressive yesterday. you could feel it coming on early in the morning. So I goofed off in town. I had breakfast at the local diner. they made wonderful sausage gravy and biscuits. A grocery store was on the edge of town, so I did some resupply. It was nice to be in the grocery store with all the air conditioning. A short stop at the library gave me the chance to catch up on internet stuff. I stopped by the Flying Disk for a cup of americano and met the owner Ben. we visited for an hour. He also sells records, cds and video game stuff.

On the other side of the dam (at end of portage) is Lawyers Landing, a privately owned public canoe access provided by the Lawyer family. A great place to stop for the evening.
right now it is thundering and lightning. oh yea, and raining something fierce. My tent is blowing around like the stakes don't mean a thing. The thunder and lightning are loud and close. The show started about the time I woke up. Executive decision- put up rain fly and wait it out. hopefully it wont storm all day because I'd love to be in Canada tonight, and the 16 miles will take some time.

My thoughts and prayers go out to the people and their families involved in the tragic bridge collapse in Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN.

One final thought- my Thermarest Prolite IV has a leaky valve stem. I wake up every couple of hours to reinflate. haha.

ok, one more thought, what in the world is going on with my favorite Four Horsewomen- Paris, Nicole, Britney and Lyndsey? they just need to do something that builds toughness and character, like a long distance hike or paddle. if your a publicist or agent for one of the gals and you are reading, I would be happy to offer my guiding services.

thats all folks!

Happy Trails,
Totally Different Subject

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Missiquoi River

7-31-07 and i hate where i am going to camp. but i did not want to paddle upstream Cl II rapids or portage around them this evening.

so i am South of the East Highgate ledges on the Missiquoi river. Enosburg Falls is approximately 16 miles North by water. there i will resupply and mail another map home. once there i will be approximately 200 miles into this 740 mile paddle.

this evening a beaver walked down out of the grass down the bank and stopped. he stopped in his tracks and looked at me with that, uh oh, I just got caught look. without much more regard he walked into the river and started to swim off. perhaps, i made to much of a stir because he slapped his flat tail against the surface and headed under. i'm not sure but maybe this alerted his friend because as soon as that tail hit the water another came tearing through the grass and to the water like lightning. both were huge and were the biggest i have ever seen. i bet they were as big as my dog Lake.

around noontime i hit the town of Swanton, VT. another nice surprise! Swanton House of Pizza made one of the best meatball sub i have had. they sliced the meatballs so you could eat without spilling meatballs. haha. i still got a ton of marinara sauce in my beard. picked up some sunblock at the local pharmacy, some tobacco at the mini mart and filled water bottles. Swanton has a nice little park and some local kids took my picture next to the stone canoe sculpture. all in all i spent three hours there.

it was hot and humid today. i definitely sweat out some weight. towards 5pm it sprinkled a bit. enough that two rainbows appeared.

two portages today- 150 yards and half mile. more tomorrow.

today i tried to sing some Jimmy Buffet. this scared off many a blue heron.

while checking out a spot for a campsite my canoe slowly began to creep away from the shore. apparently, my securing of the canoe severely lacked because when I came back the canoe had drifted about 30 feet from shore. without thinking i jumped in the water, swam to the canoe and brought her back to shore. soaking wet not 30 minutes before the end of the day. bath time.

the Missiquoi river could use a cleanup project. especially, near the town of Swanton. trash is everywhere. the water smells horrid. i picked up trash in that park but could have spent a week there picking up broken beer bottles. its too bad because the kids hang out there in the park. no bare feet...unless you are carrying a suture kit.

there needs to be a hostel or two along this canoe paddle and more camping opps. since the Adirondacks I have stealth camped every night. which is fine occasionally.
macaroni and cheese, pringles chips, venison jerky and water for dinner.

Happy Trails,
Totally Different Subject