Eastern Terminus: Fort Kent, Maine

30 06 2011

Two young men stand underneath a NFCT sign and talk about the limited chance that anyone would start in New York and come up to “nowhere” Maine. Enter the Rough Water Gypsies at 5pm, June 29, 2011. We beached in Fort Kent and showed these young men otherwise.
Our trip flowed smoothly from Jackman over to the Alligash and down to the Eastern Terminus. Thanks everyone for your continued patronage, it was a hard trip but it was definitely an experience that will be hard to digest and top the future!

More to come after some much deserved celebrations, 4th of July here we come.

Last post from on the trail?

23 06 2011

Well we’re in the last town with a grocery store today. We paddled 18 miles and did a 5 mile portage too – talk about getting ahead!
The plan is to reration and buy a new canoe yoke (Kim might have broken the last one by sitting on it) tomorrow morning. Including tomorrow we should have one full week of paddling lakes and rivers down-stream. Thanks everyone for your support, and in a week you can expect a concluding post, a ton of pictures we haven’t had time to post, and a page of tips for other paddlers.
Not over, but out-
The Rough Water Gypsies

Under Pressure: a post from a week ago

21 06 2011

Title: Under Pressure

Low pressure: big rains, the gang’s been wet for three days, at the mercy of the system. But we won’t wilt, nor will we wither away, we’re just gonna keep on working our way down the windin’ river.
Economic pressure: system’s gettin’ us down again. Spam prices on the rise, looking like they ain’t ever gon’t stop. However, if we were bettin’ men, we would invest in some of that dam hydroelectric power stock. Plenty o’ water coming down that river.
High pressure: we had to get down on our knees and do some lightning quick thinking. Lordy, some times we do our best work on our knees.
Peer pressure: sometimes in the group system someone’s got to get forced to do something. Makes people plain plum pooped for no reason, then they get into making each other run around and do crazy things. Tomorrow’s Wes’ day to wake up early and make coffee.
Sinus pressure: no sign of one yet, but if we do we know Frank’s Red hot’ll clear it right out.
Pressure drop: got nothing else.

Update: met Kim and Echo on flagstaff, all is well in the world! Good friends make the time fly…

In Maine and still kicken!

18 06 2011

Well now!  It’s been a while since our last post, but this one has to be short due to time constraints.

We toured through the rest of VT in about three days after Newport, and finished some difficult upstream battles with a nice cruise DOWN the Connecticut.  That left us in New Hampshire, and with two or three wet upstream days we struggled into Maine. The last week has definitely been one of the hardest pushes we have ever experienced as a group, and certainly personally as well.  Wet weather, upstream rapids and 1-14 hour days has left us drained, but finally on schedule to finish around July 1st.

We plan on making it to Flagstaff the day after tomorrow, and then to five-dollar, all you can eat, fish and chips meal in Portland on the Friday before the Fourth…   Everyone is doing well, and Wes’ foot looks pretty good (repeat MRSA???).  We have the drugs, the technology, and the will-power to drive on. Tied on a few beverages last night, and got some much-needed diner breakfast this morning.  We restocked six days of food here in Rangely, and now we need to make a quick four-mile portage to some more palatable waters (the Dead River).

We hope your summers are as smooth as ours has been, and your dinners are as paddle-able!



P.S. there are three steps to a canoe carry over two miles.

step 1. Take the heavy stuff first and focus on the difficulty of the carry, in order to be in the moment and make time move faster.

step 2. Speed walk back to the lighter gear, and pay close attention to seeing things from the opposite direction, or in better detail than before.

step 3. Take the last load, and know that with each step you never have to look at this exact surroundings ever again.  Dismiss it from your mind completely, leaving only step 2 in your memory.

Face time after Canada.

13 06 2011

The photo archive is herby current up to the 1/3 mark of the trip and has been entrusted to B-man for editing, annotating and posting, but he takes no responsibility for the accuracy of place names, events portrayed, spellings or current job descriptions.  The writer found the international paddlers after they camped in bucolic Gardner Park in Newport Vt, at the end of lake Memphremagog.  Shortly thereafter they chiefed a full load of BBQ as a pre dinner snack.    The poundage was advertised as enough for 12 wide bodies.  The Voyagers, proudly flying liberated SLU colors, were in wicked high spirits, fit and getting stronger and full of great stories about their adventures.   They have carefully provided photo documentation to attest to their wilderness skills as well as proper safety and medical measures taken to dampen parental apprehension to the contrary.  It is remarkable, when looking at the map, to realize how far they have come under their own power, old school – without wheels for the portages!

HUGE photo update!

13 06 2011




What gives Canada that zing?

9 06 2011

After some tough paddling and canoe dragging up the Missiquoi, the gang made it to Canada.  Seeing the flood damage and effects on Champlain was only matched upon the river, and small “nests” of flotsam hung from tree branches, at times over eight feet over our head.  Our environment is in constant flux, from floods to heat, and we were happy to realize our layover on Lake Champlain prevented us from contacting the worst of the flood levels on the river.

Our last night in the US, we were told that we couldn’t cross the boarder after five, and so we fought against the current to a spot just a mile or two from it.  We were struggling to keep walking (dragging the canoes over shallow swift water) when we encountered the Coons family, who graciously put us up in their back yard for the night.

There is something about being on an adventure, where meeting nice souls at the end of the day can turn a hard struggle into a rewarding challenge.  We fought on, into Canada and 89-degree temperatures the next day, and prepared for the Grand portage.  It was one of those days when one Budweiser knocks you out like a Southpaw with a mean hook.

We took our rest day by paddling two miles and then walking about 18 more with canoes and gear on our backs.  The mild 97 degree heat left us dazed and confused, and some guy named Paul, living at 148 Peabody road, gave us a ride in his tractor bucket to his house and a cold spicket.  Paul certainly earned himself a page in the “International Friend of Gypsies Everywhere” book, and we hope his first son gets into law-school, and his second finds happiness as an actuary.  Nevertheless, we finished the day and learned to bring more water with us next time.

A cool Liter finished the afternoon off right, and some Wes cooked pizza helped put the portage behind us.  Seeing the side of Canada that sits just atop Vermont was an experience of great difference and similarity.  Farms were abandoned as tourism was picking up in the area, and a certain sense of community seemed lost to the man who went for a swim as we ate.  It’s easy to feel distance from the Quebequois in all of the ways they live a different life, but much harder to talk of lost livelihood and socio-economic struggles that are a part of day-to-day life in all the communities we have passed.

Today brought us back into America, and after a quick Skype chat with boarder-patrol (they have telephone boxes with camera’s and screens), we met Evan’s dad Byron and had some phenomenal BBQ.  Canada is finished, and at 16 or 17 days the trip feels like it’s just beginning. The trip continues, and we have now reached the 1/3 mark.  With the struggles of the Saranac and Champlain behind us – the places most groups are forced to give-up – and the uphill battle of the Missiquoi finished, we look onwards to New Hampshire and Maine with increased ferocity and hunger.

Now we’re officially official!

9 06 2011

We want to thank everyone for checking our blog, and for the support. As of now we have 25 subscribers and over 2,600 views!
So, with great excitement, we are happy to forward the article from the Watertown Daily News about our trip. Hope you can all give it a read. (The Watertown news covers most of St. Lawrence county, and events around Canton and the University are often included.


The Famous Rough Water Gypsies!!!

7 06 2011

The guys trip will be featured in an article in the Watertown Daily Times tomorrow, June 7, don’t miss it!  If you are not in the North Country, you can catch it at http://www.watertowndailytimes.com

We thought we were tired until we saw the Missisquoi.

5 06 2011

With two good days behind us we have made it to Enosburg Falls, VT. Hope to be in Canada soon!
“Upstream is just as it sounds, not as fun as portaging.”