My oldest son turned 13 earlier this year and to celebrate I dragged him out into the remote wilderness of Maine for a 70-mile kayak trip on the Allagash Wilderness Waterway. No cell phone service for that brand new iPhone he got, just 4 days of paddling with dad.
I got the idea from a former co-worker who’s husband took each of their boys on a canoe trip in the Boundary Waters around the same age. I chose kayaks over canoes because we already had two 14-foot Wilderness System touring kayaks but also because I wanted Chris to be able to look back and say, “I did that!” This wasn’t going to be something he could sit back and let Dad do the work. He needed to paddle.
We found that out as soon as we put in just below Churchill Dam. The water is still pretty fast when the dam is open and Chris didn’t paddle aggressively. Within a minute of launching he got stuck in a tree that was hanging over the river. After that, the trip was pretty free from drama.
The Allagash makes up 92 miles of the 740-mile Northern Forest Canoe Trail that you can paddle from upstate New York through Canada, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. We opted to cut off the first 22 miles of the Allagash which includes some rather large lakes. While most of our section was river and we were aided by the current, we had to navigate a couple lakes and deadwater sections of the river.
There were also couple of areas of Class I & Class II rapids. Chris was a bit nervous at first (he’s not my risk-taker) he learned how to navigate the large boat through the rapids. He even said we needed to invest in some whitewater kayaks.
We saw three moose — two mammas and baby — during the trip. We tried and failed to catch any fish. We enjoyed playing games at the campsite each night after dinner. We took in the beauty of the wilderness with no interruption from the outside world. It was a great trip.