Canoeing the Moose River Loop | Bow Trip: Day 3, Part Two


Our Day 3 adventure on the Moose River Loop | Bow Trip continues!


Mosquito Rips (pictured above) will forever remain in our minds as a great idea gone terribly wrong.  We came upon the rips- a short, quick drop no longer than a full-size truck that seems innocent enough.  We pulled over and assessed the rapids, debating how to approach them.  Something told us that it would be wise to empty our gear out of the canoe and onto the nearby rocks before running the rips, and it’s a good thing we did.  We felt like we had a great plan of approach, backed up the canoe, and paddled full-force.  Unfortunately just as we started to descend the canoe slammed head-on into a hidden rock under the water.

Since the canoe was empty, Henry was propelled forward into the thwart, breaking it with his shin.  The force knocked us off balance, and we had to abandon the canoe.  Luckily we could stand up in the rapids, and Henry managed to get the canoe to shore.  While his shin was in pain, we still had a good laugh as we admired the rather good-sized dent that now donned the front of our canoe.  After a brief rest, we packed the canoe back up and continued onward, happy that the only witnesses to our failed attempt were Mother Nature, and of course, my cellphone video camera from shore.

Last known photo of my GoPro, lower right, for identification purposes.


Speaking of video cameras, I had my beloved GoPro mounted to the front of the canoe, and of course, recording throughout the entire Mosquito Rips ordeal.  It wasn’t until we were about a quarter of a mile down river that I noticed my GoPro was gone.  It had broken off from the mount at some point during our failed attempt at the rips.  I learned a valuable lesson that day- always have a float attached to your camera, because you never know what’s going to happen!  I was more sad that I lost irreplaceable footage than the GoPro.  So if you happen to find a GoPro somewhere near Mosquito Rips, it’s probably mine.  I’d be thrilled if you sent back the memory card.  Keep the GoPro as a “Thank You” gift!

No. 5 Bog section of the Moose River.
A moose on the shore of Moose River!


Henry and I continued on along the Moose River, our next destination being Spencer Rips.  The section of the river between Mosquito Rips and Spencer Rips runs through No. 5 Bog, a designated National Natural Landmark.  The bog is one of the largest peat bogs in Maine.  It features the largest stand of inland jack pine in the state and is home to an abundance of wildlife.  It was on our way through this section of the river that we came upon a cow moose at the shore.  I spied her first up ahead.  Henry was in the middle of telling me something about something, and I quickly silenced him with frantic, meaningless gestures.  Once I was able to get him to look at me in bewilderment, I pointed to her.

We ceased paddling, and I got out my camera.  She had heard Henry talking, although the wind direction confused her.  She first looked down river for the source of the noise.  Seeing nothing, she looked across the Moose River and tipped her nose to the air and sniffed.  It was then that she turned and looked at us.  We slowly continued to float her way and were lucky enough to get quite close before she turned and headed back into the safety of her home in No. 5 Bog.  It was a welcome experience after our canoe crash, bruising of Henry’s leg and GoPro loss!

Moose River calm. Notice the mountain off in the distance.
River speed is picking up before Spencer Rips.


We reached Spencer Rips around 1:30 p.m.  We did not run the rips.  Instead, we got out of the canoe and checked out the campsite on the left shore before the rips.  It is a beautiful campsite that offers a fabulous view of the rips below.  If you arrive early enough, you can watch other paddlers run the rips.  We knew that we had another portage coming up at Attean Falls, and, although it was only a short portage, we had never been there, and no longer had a thwart for Henry to carry the canoe.  We decided to stay overnight at the rips and continue on in the morning.

Spencer Rips, looking towards the campsite on river-right.


While we were setting up camp, the group of lost paddlers that finally found Holeb Falls showed up.  We watched from above as they all debated running the rips or portaging around them.  The rips are sandwiched between two large, rocky cliffs.  There is a small section of guarded water river right where you can portage through around the rips.  Several from the group did just that, and a few brave paddlers ran the rips without incident.  They continued on.  About an hour later, the kayak group that we had passed at the Attean Pond portage the previous day with the broken kayak cart showed up.  They decided to take the campsite across the Moose River from ours and started setting up camp.  After emptying out their kayaks, they all decided to give the rips a try as well.

Something about those rips easily casts doubt for a paddler.  It’s hard to say if you’re going to hit a rock under all that water!  Each of the four kayakers ran the rips just fine, and naturally, Henry had to give it a try.  I had had enough excitement for one day and decided to record from shore.  He too made the run without incident and wanted to run it again, but portaging a canoe with a broken thwart up a hill after a long day of paddling changed his mind quickly.  We had paddled and portaged 17.2 miles that day.

Thwart damage.


Our campsite was at the top of a high ledge just above the rips, and it was quite a task for Henry and me to haul the canoe up to our campsite after such a long day.  Without any (further) incident, we managed to drag it to our site and began to assess the thwart problem.

Henry didn’t have a spare thwart, so we began to brainstorm how to create a make-shift thwart to complete the final portage at Attean Falls.  We cut down a young tree, about 1.5-2″ in diameter, to use as a new thwart.  The bolts were removed from the old thwart, we measured up our new thwart, and Henry carved holes in the tree section where the bolts would line up.  Then end result was beautiful and would work well enough for the short portage coming up.  We now bring a spare thwart on all of our canoe adventures, just in case.

Wildcat tracks on the shore of Moose River, just below our campsite.
Setting up camp and preparing for repairs.


With our trailside repair complete, we felt ready for the next day.  Henry and I ate a hearty dinner after a delicious lunch, watched fellow paddlers enjoy their adventures, and explored the water, shore and woods that surrounded us.  We found large cat tracks on the shore below our campsite.  I attempted to fish, although I caught nothing, and we swam in the Moose River.  Our wet clothes dried on the rocky ledges.  Nature in all its glory had shared with us the full beauty, challenge and excitement of the Moose River region, and we enjoyed every moment.  It was a great day.

Trail-side thwart repair complete!

Day 4 of our Moose River Loop | Bow Trip adventure includes the kind of scenery photographers’ dreams are made of, and a beautiful finish to an exciting and worthwhile trip!  

Did you miss the boat?

Check out the beginning of the Moose River Loop & Bow Trip adventure series here: Canoeing the Moose River Loop | Bow Trip: Day 1
Canoeing the Moose River Loop | Bow Trip: Day 2
Canoeing the Moose River Loop | Bow Trip: Day 3, Part One

Continue the Adventure!

Read the final part of the Moose River Loop & Bow Trip adventure series here:
Canoeing the Moose River Loop | Bow Trip: Day 4

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