Submitted by Nicole Conte, Crew 345 President, Lone Tree Staff Member
Only days after all but two of our members graduated from high school, we set out for Allagash Maine, or as we like to call it, “Almost Canada.” The trip began early Sunday morning. We gathered together, clad in traffic-cone orange Crew 345 T-shirts and brimming with a surprising amount of energy for teenagers that early in the morning. We packed up quickly then painted decorated the van; “Crew 345,” “Allagash or bust!” and venturing symbols covered all sides of the van in vibrant red, white, and blue letters. With group pictures taken, and goodbyes to parents said, it was time to begin our journey.
The road trip up to Maine was full of excitement. We talked, laughed, had a couple dance parties and even listened to old folk tales about the Allagash River and mountains. After reaching the outfitters, we pitched camp. We cooked up spectacular diner and shared our eagerness to get on the river the next day. In the morning, we packed up headed for the Allagash and then, the rain began.
We decided not to let a bit of rain deter us from adventuring down the class three rapids which began our river run. The rapids went very well at first, it felt epic and thrilling racing down the river dodging rocks and aiming for the most treacherous sections of rapids, just for the fun of it. Then, the first canoe tipped, then the second, and the third. Thankfully, we had dropped our gear at the bottom of the rapids so nothing was lost. The journey down the rapids quickly turned into a series of rescue missions in which one canoe would sink in the process of turning another one upright. Eventually, this vicious cycle was righted and we made it to the bottom of the rapids drenched through every layer of clothing, but thrilled to have survived the river. The weather was frigid and we still had miles to go before reaching our next campsite. After a rugged two mile paddle, we reached camp in not the highest of spirits. However, the chance to dry out by the fire and devour an impressively delicious steak dinner replenished our moral.
The next couple days brought icy rain, a major test of willpower and a peculiar conversation with a park ranger about his crusade to find the best sushi in Canada. The days were cold and despite our best water proofing efforts, everything was wet. Every time the rain let up for a moment we were quick to hang things up to dry. But then, the rain would start again and it was back to square one. Though this leg of the trip proved difficult, it may have been the most important for us. We powered through by depending on each other for encouragement and with excessive joking about our own misfortunes. As tough as the first few days may have been, Wednesday made it all worth it.
Early in the afternoon on our third day on the river day the clouds broke and we saw blue sky for the first time in what felt at like ages. With clear skies came a warm sun and lifted spirits. This change could not have come at a better time because that was the night we stayed at Allagash Falls. Camp
was completely set up by late afternoon. Now, we had a chance to go exploring. After a short venture through the woods the trees parted to reveal a beautiful forty foot waterfall shimmering in the afternoon sun and rushing down the rocks with awe inspiring natural power. Hours past exploring the falls, climbing the rocks, taking pictures and swimming in the slower waters. In one section of the falls we found a massive snow pile tucked in a curve of the rock formation. So there we were, in the middle of June, next to a waterfall, having a snowball fight! Our time at Allagash Falls was probably the greatest part of our entire trip.
We stayed at the falls late into the next morning. Nobody wanted to leave, but we needed to press on. Leaving the falls was sad, but the weather continued to be beautiful. We had covered so much ground during the rainy days that the last couple days were enjoyable and relaxing. Sometimes we paddled and raced and other times we held on to the gunnels of each other’s canoes and just floated down the river as one big raft while singing camp songs and Josh’s favorite Taylor Swift hits. We even encountered more rapids toward the end. But this time, we were ready. Not a single canoe was tipped!
As we reached our final reach our landing space on our final morning, a sense of triumph flooded over us. We had accomplished something significant. We had made it together as a team and as closer friends than we had ever been before. It felt like if we could make it sixty-two miles down the Allagash River in four and a half days, we could do anything.
Months later, I asked my fellow crew members to reflect and tell me what their favorite canoe trip memory was. For some it was the chance to go explore something new every day. For others it was the conversations we had around the dinner table or late into the night by the fire. Our trip down the Allagash really had something to offer everyone.
Since the Allagash, our crew has changed. Some of our crew members have moved on as they began college and new members have joined, bright eyed and ready to learn. This is the life cycle of a Venture Crew. While things change and we move on to new adventures, our good times, and bad times on the Allagash will always be a part of crew 345 history. In our future we will be hiking Mt. Chocorua. This coming winter we hope to do some ice climbing, and the springtime may bring zip lining in the White Mountains. And after that, who knows?