Penobscot East & West Branch and “Ktaadn” Trips with NEOC based on Thoreau’s excursions in Maine as written about in “The Maine Woods”
In the spirit of Henry David Thoreau’s book – “The Maine Woods” which celebrates its 150 year anniversary this year in 2014, the New England Outdoor Center in Millinocket is offering guided trips retracing parts of Thoreau’s three separate journeys into the heart of the Maine woods. One to three day trips are currently offered and longer trips and custom trips can be scheduled on request. These trips will run from June 14th to October 5th 2014. Read below for the 5 different trips we are offering this summer. These trips will journey through the East and West branch of the Penobscot River, The Katahdin Woods and Waters, the Debsconeag Wilderness and Baxter State Park. 5 different Trips are offered:
- Trip 1: is a day trip based on Thoreau’s 1846, you will enjoy canoeing with a guide along the West branch of the Penobscot River and have a side hike to The Ice Caves in the Debsconeag Wilderness.
- Trip 2: is a is a day trip based on Thoreau’s 1846, canoeing with a guide along the West branch into Ambejejus lake and enjoy a side visit to the Amebjejus Boom House from the River Driver Logging Days.
- Trip 3: is 2 days – based on Thoreau’s 1846 trip to the region: Day 1 you canoe the Penobscot West Branch into Ambejejus Lake and visit the Boom house and Day 2 you hike Katahdin up either the Hunt Trail or Via Chimney Pond.
- Trip 4: is a guided overnight trip lasting 2 days – and involves canoeing the East Branch of the Penobscot along the trail Thoreau took in 1857 traveling through the Katahdin Woods and Waters.
- Trip 5: is a guided overnight trip lasting 3 days with 2 nights of camping along the East Branch, Hiking Deasey Mountain, canoeing, fishing and swimming along the route Thoreau took in 1857 through what is now known as The Katahdin Woods and Waters.
- Custom Trips: Do you have an ideal trip in mind, would you enjoy a fireside conversation with the Cultural and Historic Preservation Specialist of the Penobscot Nation, James Francis. We can work with you and make a trip that is memorable, unique and customized specifically for you and your group. Day Trips and Overnight Trips are what we do really well, menus can also be tailored to suit your preferences. Please call us at 800-766-7238 with questions or to book your trip.
THOREAU DAY TRIPS WITH NEOC
TRIP 1: Enjoy a paddling day trip based on Thoreau’s 1846 September trip to The Maine Woods: This journey will Put-in at Nevers Corner on the West Branch of the Penobscot River, guests will paddle the Penobscot River into the Debsconeag Dead water to a take out at either Little or Big Omaha Beach and enjoy a Riverside lunch along the West Branch provided by the River Drivers restaurant. This trip includes a portage, the Debsconeag Falls carry – named the “Oak Hall” carry by Thoreau. The native name for the falls and the lower dead water is “Katepsconegan“which can be translated as “carrying place” from which the present name, Debsconeag, is taken. The day trip also includes a short hike from 1st Debsconeag Lake to “The Ice Caves.” The Trip is guided by a registered Maine Guide. Canoe equipment and gear are provided by NEOC and canoe instruction can be provided also at the start of the trip if necessary. Cost $99/per Person, 4 person minimum.
“The forenoon was a serene and placid on this wild stream in the woods, as we are apt to imagine that Sunday in summer usually is in Massachusetts. We were occasionally startled by the scream of a bald eagle, sailing over the stream in front of our bateau; or fish hawks, on whom he levies his contributions” Henry David Thoreau
TRIP 2: Enjoy a paddling day trip & a visit to the Boom House, this trip is based on Thoreau’s 1846 September trip to The Maine Woods. Paddle the scenic West Branch of the Penobscot River putting in at Little or Big Omaha Beach into the Debsconeag Deadwater and paddling through Passamagamet Lake and into Ambajejus Lake. Visit the Ambajejus Boom House which was used by River Drivers during the logging operations in the early 1900s. Today, it is a National Historic Register Property and a museum. Lakeside Lunch is provided by the River Driver’s Restaurant on Ambajejus Lake. This trip is guided by a registered Maine Guide and canoe equipment and gear are provided by NEOC. Canoe instruction can be provided also at the start of the trip if necessary. Cost $99/per person, 4 person minimum.
“Ambejijis, this quiet Sunday morning struck me as the most beautiful lake we had seen. It is said to be one of the deepest. We had the fairest view of Joe Merry, Double Top and Ktaadn, from its surface. The summit of the latter had a singularly flat, table land appearance, like a short highway, where a demigod might be let down to take a turn or two in an afternoon, to settle his dinner… Our breakfast consisted of tea, with hard bread and pork and fried salmon, which we ate with forks neatly whittled from Adler-twigs, which grew there, off strips of Birch-bark for plates.”
OVERNIGHT GUIDED THOREAU TRIPS WITH NEOC – SUMMER 2014
TRIP 3: Based on Thoreau’s Trip to the Millinocket Region and “Ktaadn” in September of 1846: One Day Paddle on the West Branch of the Penobscot River, stay overnight at NEOC, and the second day guests will hike Katahdin via either the Hunt trail or via Chimney Pond (as the Abol Trail is closed for Summer 2014). Cost $198 per person per day, 4 person minimum. Lodging can be booked separately at NEOC.
Day 1: Paddle the West Branch with a registered Maine Guide putting in at Little or Big Omaha Beach into the Debsconeag Dead water, paddling through Passamagamet Lake and into Ambajejus Lake. Enroute, guests will visit the Ambajejus Boom house which was used by river drivers during the logging process in the early 1900s, today it is a National Historic Register Property and a museum. Guests will stay overnight in a luxury cabin at NEOC. This is what Thoreau had to say about Ambajejus Lake:
“Ambejijis, this quiet Sunday morning struck me as the most beautiful lake we had seen. It is said to be one of the deepest. We had the fairest view of Joe Merry, Double Top and Ktaadn, from its surface. The summit of the latter had a singularly flat, table land appearance, like a short highway, where a demigod might be let down to take a turn or two in an afternoon, to settle his dinner.”
Day 2: Climb Katahdin via Abol trail with a Guide – this route is the same general ascent that Thoreau attempted in his 1846 trip. Leave from Abol Campground in Baxter State Park and hike towards the summit of Katahdin. This guided hike could take from 7 to 11 hours depending on your ability to negotiate terrain. Lunch and snacks will be provided by the award winning River Driver’s Restaurant and no doubt will be more delicious that the food enjoyed by Thoreau in 1846.
“In the morning after whetting our appetite on some raw pork, a wafer of hard bread and a dipper of condensed cloud or waterspout…I climbed alone over huge rocks, loosely poised, a mile or more, still edging toward the clouds; for though the day was clear elsewhere, the summit was concealed by mist. The mountain seemed a vast aggregation of loose rocks, as if sometime it had rained rocks, and they lay as they fell on the mountain sides…They were the raw materials of a planet dropped from an unseen quarry, which the vast chemistry of nature would anon work up, or work down, into the smiling and verdant plants and valleys of earth. This was an undone extremity of the globe; as in Lignite, we see coal in the process of formation…The tops of mountains are among the unfinished parts of the globe, whither it is a slight insult to the Gods to climb and pry into their secrets and try their effect on our humanity. Only daring and insolent men, perchance go there. Simple races as savages do not climb mountains – their tops are sacred and mysterious tracts never visited by them.”
TRIP 4: Retrace part of Henry David Thoreau’s journey from July 30th to August 1st 1857 on the East Branch of the Penobscot River through the Katahdin Woods & Waters. This trip includes two Days Paddling with One Night camping on the East Branch of the Penobscot River with a registered Maine guide. Canoe & camping equipment and food for guests is included for this trip. Cost is $399 per person, four person minimum.
Figure 3: Photo Credit Dennis Welsh – KWWP
Day 1: Put-in: The put in is at the historic Bowlin Camps on the East branch of the Penobscot and paddle to south of Lunksoos Camps (approximately 12 mile paddle). Camp at Big Sebois campsite which is North of Lunksoos just below the confluence of the Sebois and East Branch.
“It was an interesting spot, where the river began to make a great bend to the east, and the last of the particular moose-faced Nerlumskeechticook Mountains not far southwest of Grand Lake [Matagamon] rose dark in the northwest a short distance behind, displaying its gray precipitous southeast side…”
Day 2: Paddle the scenic East Branch from the Big Sebois Campsite to the take out take out at Grindstone Falls (17 mile paddle). Stop by the location of Thoreaus’ Tea Berry camp where the Wassataquoik enters the East Branch.
“I also heard the sound of bull-frogs from a swamp on the opposite side, thinking at first they were moose; a duck paddled swiftly by; and sitting in that dusky wilderness, under that dark mountain, by the bright river which was full of reflected light, still I heard the wood thrush sing, as if no other civilization could be attained…then at night the general stillness is more impressive than any sound, but occasionally you hear the note of an owl farther or nearer in the woods, and if near a lake, the semi human cry of the loons at their unearthly revels”
TRIP 5: Henry David Thoreau journeyed on the East Branch of the Penobscot River in July and August 1857. Retrace his step along the East Branch through The Katahdin Woods & Waters: 2 NIGHTS CAMPING, paddling, hiking, fishing and camping with a registered Maine Guide. Canoe, camping equipment and food for guests is included in this trip. Cost is $549 per person, four person minimum.
Day 1: 5pm Start: The put in is at the historic Bowlin Camps on the East branch of the Penobscot, paddle 2-3 miles, camp overnight at a campsite close to Little Spring Brook Mountain. At night enjoy a traditional campfire dinner with time in the evening and morning for fishing and swimming.
“…A red headed woodpecker flew across the river, and the Indian remarked that it was good to eat. As we glided swiftly down the inclined plane of the river a great cat-owl launched itself away from a stump on the bank, and flew heavily across the stream…soon afterward a white headed eagle sailed down the stream before us”
Day 2: Paddle to just below where the Sebois river converges with the East Branch, through Silver Maple Flood plains. Camp tonight is at the Big Sebois Campsite. Hike from the campsite to the old Telos Tote road which will lead you to the Deasey Mountain wardens trail enjoying fabulous views west over Katahdin and Baxter State Park, camp overnight at Big Sebois campsite or Wassataquoik Stream campsites both of which are close to “Hunt’s Farm” which Thoreau visited during his 1857 voyage on August 1st
“We had found that we had camped about a mile above Hunt’s which is on the east bank, and is the last house for those who ascent Ktaadn on this side”
Day 3: Morning – paddle to take out at Whetstone Falls (7 miles).
“Maples grew more and more numerous. It was lowering and rained a little during the forenoon, and, just as we had expected a wetting, we stopped early and dined on the east side of a small expansion of the river, just above what are property called Whetstone Falls about a dozen miles below Hunt’s. There were pretty fresh moose tracks by the water side. These were singular long ridges hereabouts, called “horsebacks” covered with ferns.”