The First Time I Realized the Allagash Flowed North

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I probably need to fact check the year, but if memory serves me, then I think 1979 or 1980 (age 20) was the year I made my first trip to the Allagash. I had done a lot of backpacking, some canoeing overnights, and some whitewater paddling, but this was my first multi-night canoe adventure in Northern Maine. I had done some work with the outdoor program at UMaine and bought a damaged Old Town Tripper from that program a couple years earlier.

My college friend Mike Curry talked about the trip for a couple of months, and we decided to do it at the end of August, prior to going back to UM for classes.

We convinced a good friend to take a detour on his way from York, Maine, to Maine Maritime in Castine to drop us at Telos Landing! While riding out this long detour, I was researching the river and think it was the first time I realized the Allagash flowed north!

We had an amazing trip paddling the entire Allagash and learned a tremendous amount about canoeing, packing for an 8-day trip, camping skills, and the history of Maine. I had arranged for a U-Haul truck in Fort Kent to do our own shuttle back to Orono. When we picked up the truck it had a 14-foot cargo area so the 17’ 4’ tripper went on the roof and our 2 backpacks were our only cargo in the back. It was an odd sight going down Rt 11!

I think this trip helped to focus my interests and provide some direction to my activities and career over the next 30+ years.

Over the years since, I worked as a Park Ranger at Baxter State Park, became certified as a Recreational Guide, a Whitewater Guide, an EMT/WEMT and a member of Wilderness Rescue Team Inc. Eventually, I landed a position in L.L. Bean Product Support Services and later in Product Development. During this same period, I have had many canoe adventures in Maine as well as paddling, hiking and ski trips all over North America. I continue my passion for helping to get people outdoors through my work with the Allagash Wilderness Waterway Foundation, Maine Outdoor Coalition, and Winterkids.

About the Author
Scot Balentine is a Senior Product Developer for Equipment at L.L. Bean Inc.. In this role he creates gear that helps people enjoy their time outdoors. Scot is a Registered Maine Guide, Wilderness First Responder and a former Baxter State Park Ranger. He has led paddling, backpacking and backcountry ski trips all over North America. A Maine native he enjoys exploring remote corners of the state. Scot also serves on the Steering Committee for the Maine Outdoor Coalition, The Great Maine Outdoor Weekend Board and the Winterkid’s Board of Directors.

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