I'm in the initial planning stages for a solo run on the Allagash, Telos to Allagash village, early next fall. I'm hoping for a little help from AWW veterans on which boat would be best for conditions — my solo Mad River Independence (fiberglass, 15'8", 29.5" beam, 39 lbs) or my big tandem Bell Alaskan (Royalex, 17", 36" beam, 72 lbs) paddled solo.
All in all, I think the Bell paddled solo is the better boat for this trip. It can handle lots of gear, and I tend to pack heavy. It has the size, depth, and stability needed to take on big flatwater swells, and its length and depth makes it a better poling craft. (I tend to pole rather than paddle when I can get away with it, and I'm assuming water levels will be somewhat low in September. Do correct me if I'm wrong).
The Bell's big drawbacks are its sensitivity to wind and its general lack of maneuverability compared to a dedicated solo boat like the Indy. I know to expect some Class II water on the Allagash, but I don't know if that water is technical enough to warrant my taking the Indy, a much more nimble boat in moderate WW.
For me at least, the Indy's low profile makes for a white-knuckle experience when wind and swells come up on big lakes. And the small size make it a tough sell for a 9 or 10 day trip with lots of gear. That said, it's a much more pleasurable boat to paddle, and its light weight would be welcome on the portages.
I'd love to hear what others think, and please let me know if I'm forgetting any important considerations.
Touring Kayak Paddles
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For you, Alaskan|
Posted by: Glenn_MacGrady on Nov-28-12 4:47 PM (EST)
I haven't paddled the Allagash but I've paddled a lot of big lakes and rivers in my time.
Posted by: pgeorg on Nov-28-12 5:51 PM (EST)
boat would be better cause you'll probably hit a lot of rocks. I went through a couple of years ago in August with the gauges registering 400 cfs and spent a fair amount of time dragging through shallow water. I had hoped to bring a composite Prospector as it was a favorite of mine. My outfitter (shuttle provider) said "whatever you do don't come up here with one of those delicate boats". The first time he said that I thought "ah, what does he know about modern composite boats". The next time I talked to him, he repeated the warning and it sunk in.
The Allagash can be fine in September|
Posted by: kayamedic on Nov-28-12 7:14 PM (EST)
My feeling is |
Posted by: rpg51 on Nov-28-12 7:34 PM (EST)
Posted by: Westbrancher on Dec-01-12 6:27 AM (EST)
Thanks for all of the astute advice. I was leaning pretty strongly toward the Bell, and this seals the deal. It's particularly good to know that those Class II's are not of the tight and tricky variety. I don't look forward to carrying this boat and the extra gear I can't resist taking with it, but it sounds like the portages are few and pretty tame. Thanks again.
You can make it very messy|
Posted by: kayamedic on Dec-01-12 9:18 AM (EST)
if you come to Chamberlain via Umbazooksus and Mud Pond.
Check out "Northrunner" DVD|
Posted by: rpg51 on Dec-05-12 6:17 PM (EST)
Start at the NE Carry|
Posted by: mgc on Dec-10-12 4:18 PM (EST)
or somewhere down the Penobscot like Lobster stream unless you really want a trip that is mostly lake after windy lake. The Mud Pond Carry is a bear but it's part of the Allagash experience as far as I am concerned. Chesuncook is spectacular lake to visit and you'll see more moose and game on these sections than down below. You might also poke up into Lobster lake....one you can get into in the late season.
Posted by: ppine on Dec-12-12 6:37 PM (EST)
Sounds like a great trip. I agree with your choice of the Bell. I have paddled lots of large boats solo and like the bouyancy and extra freeboard especially if you are going heavy. I have a Bell Northwind but have alwyas liked the Alaskan for rivers.