Allagash Wilderness Waterway (AWW) 1: Preparation & Getting There

Allagash River CFS:  872 and dropping
Time:  2:30 pm – 9:12 pm
Hours:  6.75
Miles:  206 (driving)

{It all started over a bonfire and some cold beers.}

I came across a recent adventure a friend of mine had on the Allagash Wilderness Waterway (AWW) to Henry one evening as we stood around the bonfire having a few cold beers.  I told him I have always wanted to paddle the Allagash.  Henry said “Let’s go!” and there it was. We began the long process of planning for our adventure that spring and planned to head out that August.

Allagash Wilderness Waterway (AWW)
Starting to gather some of the kitchen items we will need for the Allagash.  Notice the TWO lists on the table.  We had lists for our lists going!

{Making Preparations}

Allagash Wilderness Waterway (AWW)
Wrangler approves of the wannigan Henry built for the trip.  He also wants to test out the food to make sure it’s safe to eat.

Henry found it handy to use a wannigan to carry kitchen items when canoeing.  A wannigan is basically a wooden box that you carry with a tumpline when portaging.  We had debated insulating it and using it for cold items, but decided against it due to the amount of weight it would add.  We made very in-depth lists of every item that we needed to have with us and then went through those lists several times.  We decided to make a trial-run canoe trip to see how everything worked out.

{Trial Run on the Moose Loop | Bow Trip}

Moose River Bow Trip Jackman Maine.
View on the Moose River at daybreak.

Neither of us had ever been on the AWW before so we did a lot of research. Henry is a skilled canoeist, I was a novice. We canoed the Moose Loop | Bow Trip in Jackman as a test run the month before.  You can read about that adventure here! That trip wasn’t as smooth as I had planned (we dumped the canoe in a rapid and broke the thwart) but that didn’t stop us.  We were gearing up to go!

{Pakcing up and Ready to Go!}

Allagash Wilderness Waterway (AWW) Maine
More items getting packed up to go.
Allagash Wilderness Waterway (AWW) Maine
Dry bags- don’t go on a canoe or kayak trip without them!

We started packing our gear and preparing for the drive north. We ran through our lists several times to make sure we had everything we needed.  We checked off each item as it was packed.  As we loaded our gear into the truck we checked off the type of gear.  That’s the best way to make sure you don’t forget anything!

{Driving North.}

Since we both had to work on the day we planned to leave, we got off to a bit of a late start, but we had planned on that happening.  Our directions took us to Millinocket before reaching the dirt roads of the North Maine Woods.  We decided to stop in Millinocket for dinner and fuel.

Allagash Wilderness Waterway (AWW) Maine
Fueling up for the logging roads!
Allagash Wilderness Waterway (AWW) Maine
Millinocket is a gateway to recreation! We stopped at Angelo’s for dinner.
Allagash Wilderness Waterway (AWW) Maine
The crew at Angelo’s were awesome and fun people.
Allagash Wilderness Waterway (AWW) Maine
The atmosphere in Angelo’s is very cool and all about the outdoors!
Allagash Wilderness Waterway (AWW) Maine
Waiting on our burgers and fries, and getting excited to hit the water!
Allagash Wilderness Waterway (AWW) Maine
It’s hard for me to pass by one of these awesome general stores without stopping in, even if I don’t need anything! There are several in Maine, and you never know what they’re going to have inside!

{Welcome to the Golden Road.}

Allagash Wilderness Waterway (AWW) Maine
Sunset on the Golden Road.

After eating at Angelo’s and stopping at the Katahdin General Store we turned up the road and headed for the Golden Road, not far out of town.  We reached it at about sunset, and still had a long way to go to reach the cabin we would stay at for the night.  The road was a mix of pavement and dirt and has a reputation for flat tires.  We were lucky and didn’t get one on our way in.  You get some nice views of Mt. Katahdin, especially when you reach Abol Bridge.

Mt Katahdin
View of Mt. Katahdin on the drive into the Allagash Wilderness Waterway.

Mt. Katahdin.

Drive-by view of Katahdin from Abol Bridge. The view is incredible if you stop to check it out, especially on a clear day.

Allagash Wilderness Waterway (AWW) Maine
Telos Checkpoint.
Telos Checkpoint.
Information at the Telos Checkpoint.

We stopped into the Telos Checkpoint to pay the use fee for the road and for the Allagash Wilderness Waterway.  I love talking to the people who work at the checkpoints.  They have a lot of great information about the area, and sometimes they’ll even tell you funny stories of things that go on around there!

{Johnson’s Allagash Lodge!}

Our destination for the night was Johnson’s Allagash Lodge located on Narrow Pond, not far from where we planned to put in the following morning.  We reached the lodge just after 9 pm.  It was dark but owner Bob Johnson and his trusty four-legged companion Nilla didn’t seem to mind.  Bob is an incredible wood carver, a fishing guide, and seaplane pilot.  Bob carves Brook Trout out of wood using a chainsaw, and his incredible works of art can be seen at places like L.L. Bean and Orvis!  Bob calls Nilla his Head Guide and she goes everywhere with him, including in the plane.

Allagash Wilderness Waterway (AWW) Maine
This is one of Bob’s carvings he has in the lodge.
Allagash Wilderness Waterway (AWW) Maine
A view inside Moodys Maze cabin.

Bob put us up in the “Moodys Maze” cabin which was really spacious and comfortable.  The camps have no electricity, relying on propane-fueled lanterns for light.  The only running water is a clever setup Bob created that taps into the spring located on the property.  The water is cold and tastes great!

{Daybreak- Taking a look around.}

It was hard to sleep because I was so excited to begin our adventure.  Daybreak showed a whole different place compared to what we saw when we came into camp the night before.  I think Bob has the nicest outhouse in the whole state of Maine.  It was strange to use the facilities with no door, though!  I can’t remember if Bob had plans to add one or not!  The cabin was in a nice, remote setting and far enough away from other cabins so you have plenty of privacy.  A nice walking trail leads down to the pond where you can see his seaplane.

Allagash Wilderness Waterway (AWW) Maine
Johnson’s outhouse!
Allagash Wilderness Waterway (AWW) Maine
Our cabin.
Allagash Wilderness Waterway (AWW) Maine
View of the front of our cabin. Plenty of wood for those cold nights! Notice the carved sign!
Allagash Wilderness Waterway (AWW) Maine
Bob’s canoe.
Allagash Wilderness Waterway (AWW) Maine
Bob Johnson’s seaplane on the shore of Narrow Pond.
Allagash Wilderness Waterway (AWW) Maine
Looking back from the dock at the trail that leads to Narrow Pond.
Allagash Wilderness Waterway (AWW) Maine
Geared up and ready to go, Allagash Wilderness Waterway here we come!

{Off we Go!}

We packed up the truck, ate breakfast and headed to the lodge to meet with Bob.  He would be showing us the way to the put in location.  After, he would bring our truck to the location we had arranged with Allagash Guide Service to pick it up and drive it to our take-out location in Allagash.  We were excited and had no idea what was in store for us.


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