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Published: November 24th 2007
Saturday, September 29th, 2007. Darrin awoke to clear skies and mist over the water. Thanks to two days of steady rain, water levels were now ideal for paddling, having gone from 300 to 1,300 cubic feet per second in just 48 hours! Darrin set out onto Round Pond, running some small rips while blanketed by a patch of isolated fog. (“Rips” is a Northeastern word for mild whitewater.) He paddled beside shores illuminated by fall foliage, ended up in calm water, and then looked up to see a bull moose swimming across the river.
The moose at first swam straight toward Darrin, and then turned and headed into the woods. Next Darrin rounded a corner to see another bull moose swim across the River. A quarter mile later, two moose cows and a calf were grazing in the river. He passed them, came around a corner, and saw another moose standing in the water ahead of him. The moose were simply everywhere - Darrin saw a grand total of 24 in three days.
Most experienced wilderness trippers would be satisfied to see 24 moose in a lifetime of expeditions. Rutting time and copious rain both bring moose into the
open, but in Maine, moose are somewhat easier to see than in other regions. They have no predators in Maine, mostly because there are no wolves. While bear and coyotes will occasionally take down a moose, only the very old or sick are vulnerable. In Maine, there isn’t anything moose have learned to fear.
Darrin continued down the River, beyond the moose mania. He stopped at the Mischerd Farm Ranger Station, where he officially checked out of the Allagash Wilderness. From there, he continued down the last stretch of the Allagash to his last portage on the NFCT, the Allagash Falls Portage. There he met Trevor, a Ranger whose picture is on the official NFCT map. Darrin learned that Trevor had grown up in the Allagash Village area, and that Trevor drove a logging truck during the winter.
Darrin set camp at Allagash Falls. After erecting his tent, he took lots of pictures of the Falls, and then met his camp companion for the evening. “Kinky-tail” the chipmunk had a crooked tail and was a strict landlord who controlled the camp’s animal population. Whenever another rodent entered camp, say, a red squirrel, or another chipmunk, Kinky-tail wasted no
time asserting his authority. All other rodents were promptly and aggressively scolded and chased away. Darrin, by contrast, was a welcome guest, for Kinky-tail sat reverently at Darrin’s feet, politely nibbling each crumb that Darrin dropped. After dinner, Kinky-tail retreated into the shadows, and Darrin headed for bed and fell asleep to the roaring of the Falls.
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