It has become something of a tradition to receive a letter from the co-leaders of Expedition Camp, Pine Island’s six-week program for fifteen-year-old boys, sent back with the driver who meets them a week into the Allagash Wilderness canoe trip to resupply them. Below are excerpts from this year’s letter from Expedition Camp directors Ben Schachner and Sumner Ford. These excerpts are also included in the Pine Needle.
July 6, 2013
Five days into our trip we’ve covered about forty miles by canoe and on foot. Yesterday, hefting the canoes onto our shoulders, we portaged the roughly three-mile dirt road and grass trail from our Round Pond North campsite to the put-in on Allagash Lake. Jay, the park ranger at the put-in, who bears a striking resemblance to Gimley from Lord of the Rings without the double-sided war axe and battle helmet, asked us in passing how the grays and blues were doing; turns out he had read the Down East article and he mentioned that his wife had a long list of questions for us about the War Game…
…We spent the rest of yesterday afternoon and evening lounging on a large section of sun-baked glacially scarred rock jutting out into Round Pond. The rest was much needed. Half the portage was on an open dirt road with no shade and plenty of horse flies and mosquitos. The day before that we began our paddle, battling a strong headwind in Black Pond up to the mouth of Caucomogomoc Stream and ended the day walking, hauling, and pushing the boats up the Horserace in waist-high water. Our second day on the water was a twenty-five mile push to Canvas Dam, which included a healthy headwind on Chesuncook Lake and on the Penobscot Corridor. The boys have maintained an unwavering determination through the trip though, and spirits are high. They’ve assumed their daily roles and responsibilities with gusto and they’ve become more cohesive as a group already. We have enjoyed our daily debriefs, and the boys are open to suggestions and seem eager to learn, and amongst them all runs a strain of excitement and curiosity about what lies around the next bend in the river and what each new day will bring…
…Hope all is well back on the island. We all miss PIC and the island life, but we’re steadily fall into a comfortable routine on the rivers and lakes of the north Maine woods…See you in a week and a half!
Akka Lakka! Ben and Sumner