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CC's Outdoor Journal; Source to the Sea
ANDROSCOGGIN RIVER- The Androscoggin River Watershed Council's Source to the Sea trek came through town last week with near record numbers over those seen on these sections in the last few years.
With only five pre-registered, Jessie Perkins, event coordinator for the ARWC, was pleasantly surprised with more than a dozen paddlers arriving at the Mexico launch on Friday and an equal amount for Saturday's paddle from Dixfield to Canton.
Paddlers came from all over; Millinocket, Minot, Gilead, Oregon, Mount Vernon and locals from Andover, Peru and Bethel.
"I've been coordinating this event for three years and it's great to see so many familiar faces coming back and getting to know the new ones, too," noted Perkins.
The Friday paddle began behind the Mexico town office at the newly-built boat launch in the shadow of the Rumford Paper Mill. An environmental engineer, representing the mill, presented some interesting facts in regard to discharge regulations due to the enactment of the Clean Water Act.
He noted that the treated water that comes from the mill and is discharged into the river is 98-percent pure, due to the state and federal limitations placed on their practices.
Not too far down the river there were two active discharge culverts visible from the water. The water looked clear and the area surrounding the sites was free of any foam or discoloration.
As a matter of fact, there was a fishing boat no too far from the launch, a wonderful sight to see after so many years of being told not to fish or swim in the river.
With a swift current, the paddle moved right along. Paddlers enjoyed a little excitement with some fast-moving water in a couple of the bends, but otherwise, they were more watchful of the shallow spots where a few had to get out and portage to deeper water.
With sightings of eagles and ospreys, and even fish skipping across the water's surface, nature succeeded in presenting its' amazing self.
In just under three hours, the Dixfield destination was achieved with smiling faces and sea legs not quite ready to stand strong. As about half were just out for the day, the other half couldn't wait for Saturday's trek to Canton.
As the delightful weather continued into Saturday, 13 paddlers met up with Jonathan Labonte, an ARWC board member, taking Perkins' place for the Dixfield to Canton leg of the trek.
Labonte stated that a study had been done on the river to figure the most pristine and asthetically pleasing section, this was that section. As Perkins had noted the previous day, "the Dixfield to Canton section is the most under-appreciated of all the legs."
With a slower current and deeper, but clear water to see the sandy river bottom, there was a peacefulness about this section of river. Eagles soared through the tree tops, fish floundered their way across the top of the water and trees boughed over the water's edge making for great photo opportunities.
Through this section, there were several old log booms with their iron spikes and chains still visible, but decaying just under the water.
As the water was pretty slow moving, we had the pleasure of watching Dan "Adventurer" Cox whind his way in and around the islands seeking faster water to play in. The previous day, Cox could be seen taking the waterway less traveled in order to get in the rougher water. Unfortunately, on Saturday, his thrill seeking came more in the form of racing the group to the other end of the islands.
As we made our way around the bend just after the Canton bridge, the boat launch wasn't too far away. Again, we paddled past a couple of fishing boats and log booms and it was time to paddle to shore.
Another great day on a river that has a bad reputation, but is slowly gaining popularity for its' amazing views, clear water and rewarding fishing experiences.
For more information or to join an upcoming paddle, visit www.androscogginwatershed.org.