Machias River

-- Last Updated: May-18-12 11:21 AM EST --

Looks like I will be heading to the Machias next week, launching around 5/24 if you'd like to join in. But, before it is pointed out, this is the advice forum, not the meet-up forum, so let me get to the questions.

So far, it is just my buddy and I, in my OT Tripper, I suppose. Would I be better off taking the Appy?

We need a shuttle. Every search I make on the net resolves to Sunrise Canoe and Kayak. Every used them? Reasonable service? Other sources?

Is there any way to know the water level other than asking the outfitter? What is a good water level?

My 1991 AMC guide says there are no permits or fees. Is that still true?

Does the Gazatteer show the campsites or will they be self evident?

76-mile trip length, so I'd normally think about 4 days for this trip. But, the book mentions portages, which will affect timing. How long should we allow for the trip, adding a day for contingency, of course.

I just read through Bowler's Adk Blackfly thread. I've made a number of trips in Maine and have yet to really experience the BF swarms. So, this may be a first for me. Can you really make margaritas with the leftovers of Charlie Wilson's Blackfly Pie recipe?


two years ago 3rd lake to Whitneyville

– Last Updated: May-18-12 9:45 PM EST –

in early May we had barely enough water in most of the rapids. The portages were not bad.
There's a lot of flatwater (10 miles?) between Lower Holmes and Great Falls. There's a lot more between there and Whitneyville.
Assuming you have at least as much water as we did the Appy will be more fun in the rapids.
Your ideal boat/paddlers will be nimble in the rapids and efficient on the flats.
I'm no geologist but the rocks in that river are like big chunks of dragon skin. Your boat will get ground up at least a little.
I expect you will know all about blackflies by the time you finish. Do try to sample some Gritty's Blackfly Stout while you are there!
There were no fees when we were there (May 2010).
We did our own shuttle.

Edited to add;
We did four nights and four days, camping at Third Lake before we started.
More water might have made things move along faster or not depending on the rapids. The portages were generally short and easy and mostly let us scout the rapids while we carried our gear. Airline, which starts where Rt 9 goes over the river, was a very technical class 1 when we were there. If that is to low to paddle I'd be inclined to paddle the coast.

Be sure to check
the water level. It is definitely a spring trip and low water would be no fun. Medium High water is a lot of fun. Some nice rapids. Portages are short and easy. There is a nice set of rapids they goes right under the bridge at the airline road. I can’t remember the name of it. But if the water is challenging you do need to mind you p’s and q’S. I think a tripper is perfect. Flies can be something in there.

Thanks for the info
Folks up that-a-way seem to think there was water last week, so it’ll probably be gone by the time we get there. Short of eye-balling, is there any way to know the water level? According to the AMC Guide, the Mattawamkeag holds water better than most Maine Rivers. Is the Mattawamkeag a good plan B?

Tommy, nice pictures. One of your crew is pictured in head-net, but bare armed. ???

I talked to a friend who has been on the Machias a couple times. He suggested not making the trip–black flies. He estimates the BFs degrade the pleasure of the trip 40-50%. So, do Mainers just get immune to them?

Flies & campsites
The blackflies were not too bad while we were there in a dry spring at the beginning of May. They were there but only biting sometimes. Jeff found the buzzing around his head annoying even when they weren’t biting.

I treat my clothing with permethrine before I go. I wore my wetsuit while paddling. I did get chomped on a couple of portages when I forgot to put on my long sleeved shirt. My arms looked like they had chicken pox. But the flies did not seem bad in camp, perhaps because the temperature dropped, or on the water. I rarely used my headnet.

We found evidence of camping at every portage except Karick Pitch where someone has a cottage. There is supposed to be a campsite on the flats between Lower Holmes and Grand Falls which we never saw.

As well as Third Lake we camped at the base of Little Falls and Great Falls. We also camped at a roadside camping area where the West Branch Machias enters. Even thou we had that to ourselves it was my least favorite of the trip.