Enchanted Stream - to Dead River


Enchanted Stream, Maine, US

Disclaimer

to Dead River

Usual Difficulty V (for normal flows)


River Description

Posted 5/6/03 by Phil Urban on the MVP message board

This is meant as a little celebration/appreciation of a great day on the water.

We got some rain last week, in Maine, which set us up perfectly for some creeking this past weekend. Did the usual calling around and ended up with a party of six of us that have paddled together in different formulations for the last six years or so. I hadn't paddled with a couple of the guys for several years. We met up in the Forks at 8:45 AM and I live 3 hours from there so you can do the math. I didn't get enough sleep. The Forks is a cool town. Its an historic place set at the confluence of the Dead and the Kennebec. Benedict Arnold labored up the Dead with his troops and long boats on his way to Canada but these daze its a rafting/paddling Mecca. I always see old friends there that are in the same state of eager anticipation as me. Local folks that feel like old friends are still running shuttles and taking yer buck for that last cup of coffee before you hit the river. Its a cool place.

We set up a fairly complicated shuttle system (at least it seemed complicated with 6 guys contributing to the plan) I happily stepped out of that process. The plan was to catch two creeks with the second dumping into the Dead River that was running at a big 7000 cfs spring release. Somehow I had not paddled either of these creeks so I was going to catch two PFDs (personal first descents) in one day, as were two of the other guys. It was 60 degrees, the sun was shining, we had a great group, two new creeks were waiting; it was the very definition of a superb day about to unfold.

We loaded up the boats on the two vehicles waiting for us, grabbed some food, played with the happy Lab "puppy", and threw stones at Tom as he tried to take a dump entirely too close to us. 20 minutes later we were at the putin for the appropriately named Enchanted Stream. This is the second stream you cross on the way into the Dead. I can't remember which bridge abutment the gauge is on but it was reading about minus 2 inches. Another low/medium? but I wouldn't want to do this one with much less water cuz so much of it is boulder garden and we played pinball even at that level. This is another beauty with mostly just a channelised wandering stream. It really just gorges up in one stretch but it is worth it. Its a perfect 2nd creek in a day run. There is a 100 yard " slidey" entrance rapid that's not too hard but had some washed out bridge parts that complicated things. The eddy at the bottom was a little tricky and if you missed it you were slipping backwards over a 6? footer that looked trashy and had a log in it that could have ruined yer day. Three of the guys walked it. We scouted the four drops below all at once. The first two had to be run together and the third and fourth could be broken out. Again, three of the "young bucks" walked but Mike and Trevin were good to go and after looking at it for a while I realized that I could see it *and* I could feel it. I'm usually one of the more cautious paddlers in any group and its unusual for me to run stuff when those guys are walking. The first two drops required being precise and things were gonna happen fast. Bad hammerings were waiting if you really screwed up and there was a log that could snag you just a foot off the line between the two drops. These were 8 or 10'? tall maybe. I sat in the eddy for that moment of calling up absolute focus and peeled out feeling good. I ran both drops clean and felt like I had just taken a step in my boating that I'd been waiting for, for a couple of years. I felt *good*. The next two drops were pretty straight forward and the other guys joined us for them. We were immediately in an easy shallow boulder garden and after having one of my best creeking days ever and running the hardest drops of the day cleanly I let down some, I proceeded to run that thing out of control. :-) I got caught on the shallow side for a couple hundred feet or so and I'd have been better off hiking than paddling. Scrape, broach, run slot backwards, broach, spin forward, scrape etc. We had a couple of miles of fun bebop that required a lot of attention and then we were at the confluence with the Dead.

After a break that included some recreational enhancement we were out in the middle of 7,000 cfs of waves and holes. We had about 4 miles of this and my Micro 240 suddenly went from being nimble and fun to slooow and corky. I really had to use waves and diagonals etc to move around on the river. By this time we were all spent and I knew that some of those holes were gonna seriously kick my ass if I blundered into one. A long swim in that big water for an old guy like me as tired as I was would not have been a good thing. I played ducky behind one of my buds that knew the river well at that level.

So, after 16? miles of paddling on three different rivers it was the end of a long day. I love the feeling of teamwork and accomplishment that can come from creeking. I even love the feeling of deep fatigue when it doesn't include injury and in this case my arms felt like noodles but I hadn't hurt myself. Tom and I passed on the beers at Marshalls afterwards and headed home. I got in at 11 PM and was so tired and jazzed I couldn't sleep. It's a few days later now and I'm still stoked. I've been hoping to just hold the line with my skills since I don't get out as much as I once did, and I am getting a bit older, but now I feel like time in my boat has translated to better skills and more confidence. Damn, I love boating.

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2003-05-07 07:08:39

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