It's 7am and I'm going paddling for 8 days in the North Maine Woods on this frosty spring morning. I open my car door and step out into a muddy field where my paddling crew has camped for the night. I couldn't decide earlier this morning which shoes made the most sense to wear since the weather changes a lot during the day and I’m unclear about what conditions to expect from the stream. I know we are going to first be shuttled a two or three hour drive down a logging road to Ross Lake for the put in, but no one in my group has paddled Chemquasabamticook Stream before. We know we'll be paddling 27 miles of Class II water in the next two days, but there could be strainers in the stream since it's likely no one has paddled it in the 6 or so months since last fall.
Bean boots? Paddling booties? Will it eventually warm up enough to wear sandals? I focus in on the small decisions because there just isn’t room to worry about anything else at the moment. My thoughts don’t stray to politics. Or bills. Or getting the oil changed in my car. I simply just don’t have the bandwidth to worry about life back in society because I am about to head deep into the woods for an 8-day journey.
We will eventually make our way down Chemquasabamticook Stream into Long Lake and do the remaining 40 or so miles on the Allagash Wilderness Waterway. And I am excited (and yes, a bit nervous). And I know dinner over the open fire tonight is going to be especially delicious after 14 miles of unknown stream.