A spring paddle gracefully maneuvering through partially submerged silver maples that in summer are high and dry is a not-to-miss experience.
One of the benefits of living in Maine is the changing seasons and the unique adventure opportunities that each one brings. For me, spring ushers in the ability to explore interconnected waterways that are created by high water. I celebrate each rainfall because I know it buys me more time for exploration. It won’t be long until high waters recede and those interconnections are gone.
This time of year the water is cold but the air is nice and warm, and a flat-water paddle can be a peaceful and safe way to experience the spring.
The best part about the flooded waterways is the natural obstacle course provided by the sturdy silver maple trees that stand stoically braced together to withstand the water surrounding them. It’s fun to practice graceful kayak maneuvers, edging your boat to carve turns through the trees, experimenting with bow draws, stern rudders and side slips, slightly altering your paddle blade angle to gracefully pass through narrow openings and challenge yourself to tighter and trickier turns.
One of my favorite paddles of the spring is to launch my kayak near Hirundo Wildlife Refuge in Alton off Route 43 and paddle up Pushaw Stream toward the lake. About a mile from the put-in on the southeast side a small flowage leads over a submerged beaver dam, through a meandering waterway that opens up into Perch Pond, formally named Mud Pond. Last week the flowage was teeming with a variety of ducks and the shrill sounds of returning red-winged blackbirds.
We were able to glide easily over the second submerged beaver dam at the entrance to Perch Pond, where we followed a mink running along the shore, oblivious to our intrusion. On the south side of Perch Pond is Sewall Park, with a boat launch and a small picnic area. You could do the whole journey from that direction. After circumnavigating the lake, if time allows, keep going upstream and you’ll find yourself all the way up to the outlet dam of Pushaw Lake, which is a beautiful spot for a stop.
Last week on our outing Deb Merrill used a Hero Cam, which is a small waterproof video camera that she had mounted on her head to capture images of our journey. Check out the video above or at www.youtube.com/watch?v=GBgmgSOuHIk.
Now is the time to get out there before the flood waters recede, but if you can’t get out anytime soon, you can live vicariously for a moment through our adventure.
Karen Francoeur of Orono is a Master Maine Sea Kayak and Recreation Guide and owner of Castine Kayak Adventures. She can be reached at Castinekayak@gmail.com.