Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 9 and 10: 27th Annual Blue Mountain Arts and Crafts Festival at Sunday River South Ridge Base Lodge. Hours both days: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. This is also Sunday River’s Fall Festival Weekend with free band concerts on the South Ridge slopes.
Monday, Oct. 11: (Columbus Day observed) the Bethel Selectmen are currently scheduled to meet for a regular meeting at the Town Office at 7 p.m.
Mahoosuc Guide Service – The Allagash Trip
Early next Tuesday morning Polly Mahoney, co-owner of the Mahoosuc Guide Service in North Newry, will arrive at the University Inn in Orono just across the Route 2 Bridge from the original Pat’s Pizza. She will have with her canoes, paddles, sleeping bags, foam pads, life vests, dry bags and water bottles for the parties from Maine, Rhode Island, Connecticut and Indiana whom she will guide on a six-day trip down about 75 miles of the Allagash River.
Kevin Slater and Polly Mahoney have operated Mahoosuc Guide Service for over twenty years which covers a wide range of outdoor, wildness, all-season nature trips including their dog-sled trips which they are well known for. The Allagash River trip which they guide is considered Maine’s most famous canoe trip. It is rich in wildlife and historic artifacts -- moose, otter, osprey and river logging. There is one portage around the 50-foot Allagash Falls and the trip will encounter some beginners’ level rapids.
One hundred fifty-three years ago Henry David Thoreau, his companion and an Indian guide with the Anglo name of Joe Polis made a similar trip leaving Bangor and traveling to the headwaters of the Allagash at Heron Lake. From this lake the river flows into the St. John River 92 miles away. Thoreau described the trip, the flora and the fauna in a series of essays later compiled into a book titled “The Maine Woods.”
From Orono the group will drive via Ashland to Umsaskis Lake/Long Lake, about 14 miles north of the Heron Lake headwaters where the party will be introduced to the canoes, loading the canoes and, if called for, introduction to basic paddle strokes. Then they will paddle to the first campsite on Long Lake.
Polly said that we carry all the gear including tents and in the fall we take a canvas wall tent with woodstoves. We take our handmade wood canvas canoes for guides and experienced paddlers -- for novices we take ABS plastic canoes that have been trimmed out with wood gunnels and seats. My question was how do their vehicles get from the start to the finish? We use a shuttle service, Norman L’Italien, in St Francis to move our van around while we are on the river. We drive north on I95 to Smyrna Mills then to Ashland on Route 11 and get on the Golden Road. It is about a five-hour drive from Orono with a lunch stop and gas stop. We generally guide one to three trips a year on the Allagash. This will be our second this summer.
My other question was that their itinerary seemed similar to an Outward Bound canoe expedition. Polly replied -- We both worked for Outward Bound and don’t feel our trips are that much like OB as we do the cooking, firewood, camp setup and we don’t push and challenge people the way they do in OB. Being on an expedition is similar.
People who make these trips experience the feelings of remoteness -- less people, no traffic, northern exposure, exceptional beauty -- that is unique to the Allagash. We have many repeat clients that do multiple trips with us. One couple from Scotland has been coming out with us for 18 years; they are now 81 and 82.
On the third day out we go over a brief history of the Native Americans, the long history of logging and dams and the Wilderness Waterway. The Allagash Wilderness Waterway is a 92-mile-long protected stretch of lake, shore, and river corridor established in 1966 by the Maine State Legislature and managed by the Maine Bureau of Parks and Recreation, Department of Conservation.
On days four and five of the trip we travel to and check in at Michaud Farm then travel to the Allagash Falls campsite. The following day is a leisurely morning to enjoy the falls and travel to the Big Brook area after a portage around the falls. And on the last day we travel to and takeout at Allagash Village near St. Francis, Maine, drive back to Orono and plan to get to the University Inn around 5 p.m.
Finally, returning to Thoreau’s Allagash trip in 1857: Thoreau and his friend traveled to Bangor from Boston by train. Then Thoreau and a Bangor friend went to Indian Island to see if they could find a Penobscot to guide the party on its trip to the Allagash. The Indian they hired for $1.50 a day and an extra 50 cents a week for his canoe took the train from Old Town to Bangor that evening. Joe Polis, the Penobscot, with his canoe got off the train where Thoreau met him. They then had to walk about three-fourths of a mile with the Indian carrying his canoe on his head (without his normal head gear for canoe carrying) to the house where they were to stay. When they left for their trip, the two “clients” had full knapsacks, waterproof bags, etc., of gear and clothing; their Indian guide had his clothes, a belt with a hunting knife, a blanket, his gun and an axe. All of this gear and the three men traveled in the Indian’s birch bark canoe. When they got to the river, Thoreau wrote that their Indian guide told them the name “Allegash” meant hemlock bark.
Mahoosuc Guide Service runs a really excellent website at www.mahoosuc.com. Their home page features an article with the title “In Thoreau’s Wake” and their service is featured on the Maine Sierra Club’s website. A paragraph from their home page tells even more:
“Mahoosuc (Guide Service) is unique in that we make much of the equipment we use on our guided trips, such as cedar canvas canoes, ash dog sleds and maple paddles. We have found the traditional equipment and materials we use to be durable, functional and in many ways preferable to today's high-technology outdoor equipment. The craftsmanship that goes into our equipment is an extension of the care we put into each of our trips. We have traveled extensively in the north with the Cree and Inuit and many of the techniques we use for Northwood’s and tundra travel were developed by them.”
Bethel in Down East Magazine
Ever heard Bethel called “Maine’s Wild West” before? That is the title of an article about Bethel in the Sept. 26 issue of Down East. Virginia Wright is the author. In the online edition of the magazine (free of course) the one photo that heads the article could have been taken at the Little Big Horn. It is supposed to be on Paradise Hill according to Randy Bennett. Many years ago a group tasting and rating fried clam places in New England wrote up their findings for Yankee Magazine. They rated Jordan’s Restaurant in Locke Mills as one of the best -- it was a place, they said, in New Hampshire.
Golf course café
Where is the place to go for a super hot dog and a drink with grand scenery and no fuss? Try Monica Ludden’s golf café at the Bethel Inn. It is casual and convenient. When I stopped by last week during the Pro/AM tournament at the Bethel Inn it struck me that on a sunny day, this very informal restaurant had what I liked best for eating out -- beautiful scenery. The menu offers a Grab-N-Go Sandwich, Grilled Hot Dogs (the favorite) and Hamburgers, solo or with cheese. Drinks include four choices of beers. Her gas grill is ready and waiting. Seating is available with tables and chairs facing one of the best views on the course -- downhill toward the first green. The ninth green is only a few yards away. Monica said that on a busy day she can serve 50 hot dogs and take in about $500.
Gould Alumni Weekend
Saturday’s weather for the annual Gould Academy alumni luncheon -- class parade and afternoon events was nearly perfect. Kathy and I thoroughly enjoyed ourselves at the luncheon, although we were the only ones from my class. By the time everyone had trickled into in the Ordway dining room, it looked like nearly all the tables were filled. Polly Davis seemed to be enjoying herself behind the wheel of a golf cart.
For Jeopardy fans and history buffs, last year the academy had prepared an eleven-stop self-guided tour and campus history quiz for alumni. You had to visit the tour stop to get the right answer. This year a similar tour folder was handed out showing 11 places in Bethel village from the Opera House Condos to Home Slice Pizza plus history-trivia questions about each. Seems to me that the Thunderbird Motel made the trivia list this year and last.
Question 4: What was formerly located at the intersection of Main and Spring streets -- (Two possible answers)? Question 10: What was The Sudbury Inn known as prior to its current name? They were all good questions; I suspect that Kimberly Tremblay in the Alumni Office had a hand in this weekend feature.
Bethel Inn Pro-AM tournament
Last week’s golf tournament at the Bethel Inn produced a new course record of 64. The golfer was Jerry DePhilippo, a Professional player from the Portland Country Club. Twenty-two teams from all over New England competed in the tournament. Terry Squires from the U.K. brought a foursome with him to informally win the “we traveled the furthest” prize.
Mark Mallory, Bethel Inn Golf Pro, asked me how come his name never got into the news? Well here it is Mark. He had a very big grin Saturday after such a successful week.
The Whites are in Arizona
Tom and Marcey White have arrived in Prescott, Ariz. Tom is setting up his studio there and has the luxury of having foundries nearby that can cast his work; he currently has projects at two of them. So in a sense he has moved his studio to where the foundries are. The Whites will be going to Texas for the dedication of Tom's Medal of Honor Recipient sculpture, Clarence E. Sasser, and Gold Star Mom on Veterans Day. Tom is continuing to work on his 8-foot "Sower & the Soils" for the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, N.C., and that piece should have a spring dedication.
One of the professional reasons for the White’s move was the closing of the foundry in Bath, Maine that had done his bronze castings -- his new location is handier to foundries and shipping is much less expensive.