My Book!!

One opportunity that the blog has brought me is the co-authoring of a guidebook, Paddling Southern Maine! It is something in which I take a lot of pride! My writing partner, Sandy Moore, and I have created a book with 54 amazing trips that are within about an hour of Portland! Our motto as we wrote the book was wanting to 'get people to spend the day on the water and not in their cars!'

If you want more information on our book please click on the image of the book below.

Sandy and I are available to attend/present various functions/events. Please email me at for more information!

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Nezinscot River, Turner Maine


Body of Water: Nezinscot River, Turner, ME [Maine Gazzetteer Map 11, C4]

Directions: From Portland, head north on 95 to Exit 75.   Take a left after the exit onto Rt.  4/202.  Stay on Rt. 4  for about 16 miles into Turner.  Turn right onto Rt. 117 and the municipal building is on the right, just after the municipal building there is a short 'road' that goes down to the water. This is the boat launch. (See map below)

Boat Launch:  Gravel Drive down to gravel slope into the water. 


 Parking: Parking area at the launch is small.  I was able to pull over to the side and it left room for another vehicle to get in if needed.  I reached out to the folks at the Turner Municipal Building and they said on weekends they welcome folks to park in their lot and walk over to the launch.  They were super friendly!  I am not sure what they think about parking there during the week, but it is worth a call! 

Fees: None
Bathroom: None (There are a few gas stations/businesses along 202/Rt 4 you could take advantage of including a Hannaford very nearby!)  

Wildlife: Turtles, Blue Heron, beaver, eagle, fox!!! and possibly deer. 

Notes: The Nezinscot!  This is only my second time paddling here!  Last time I was here I came alone and admit at times I was a bit nervous.  This river goes on for a long time, with a few twists and turns and places where you can easily get sidetracked... this time I brought a friend.  I felt more confident with two of us making sure we knew where we were going and how to get back.  The Nezinscot is surprisingly uninhabited!  I love that... but it can also mean that if you were to get lost or need something, it is hard to find that... so.. having someone else there was great.  (Plus the laughter and fun!). 

I remembered enjoying the Nezinscot but had forgotten how nice it really is.  I have only paddled here in the fall and  I am sure it is equally as beautiful earlier in the paddling season.  

I want to start with what may have been my favorite part of the trip... even though it happened at the end.  When I paddle I try to be a good steward of the waterbodies... so.. if there is trash, I try to remove it.  (unless I have Gladys... because I do not want her licking things that she shouldn't be!) So.. not far from the launch I see something floating in the water... it was a kids 'floatie'... a kickboard of sorts used when swimming.  It was in decent shape but since I did not want to keep it with me the entire trip I moved it from the water to a place on the shore under an uprooted tree.  The tree had been blown over or had fallen years ago... the grass had grown on it, so I know it was not a newly fallen tree... and then we happily paddled on our way... on the way back I remembered where I had put it and came back for it.  I paddled up close to the shore and used my paddle to try to reach for it.  For some reason I looked up towards the top of the roots and noticed fur... some kind of animal fur... Oh no... I thought for sure that there was something dead up there... it reminded me of last winter when a friend and I were walking the dogs and we came upon a dead raccoon that had lost its battle with a porcupine... we names it a racupine or a porcucoon... I thought this was another incident of a dead animal... and I noticed a paw... so I said to Donna, "Aww.. I think there is a dead animal up there."  Just then... the dead animal... which was not dead... sprang up and looked down at me from the top of the roots.. it was a stunning RED FOX!  Oh my gosh, it was so pretty, so healthy looking!  We stared at each other for a moment... me trying to comprehend what I was seeing and it... trying to process who had just woken it up from a nice snooze in the warm sun... and then it ran away... and I paddles a bit to the side and Donna and I both got to see it run across a log and into the woods.  Unfortunately I did not have my camera ready, neither did she... but despite having no photo of the beautiful animal, it is truly one of the coolest experiences I have had paddling.  I mean.. who gets to look up to a fox staring down at them? So beautiful.  I am so grateful to get to see these animals in their natural habitat.  

Ok... so before the fox... there was so much else to see and appreciate!!  
We got on the water early... about  7:15 or so.  I do like to get on the water early and wish I could get out even earlier, but... realistically I am exhausted these days.  I work in a school and things are hard... and my energy is low... so getting up any earlier than 5 a.m.  just is not happening at this point!   (This is a good point to give a huge shout out to ALL educators and school workers out there... that includes teachers, ed techs, administrators, bus drivers, custodians, cafeteria workers, etc... we are working incredibly hard trying to do things that are really hard... the intensity right now, for educators, is something I have never seen.  So even if you disagree with what schools are doing, please be kind to those working in schools.) 

When getting on the water early things can appear a bit dreary... we got here and there was still some mist on the water, but not much compared to other morning paddles!  
 This was taken from the launch... looking left you see a bridge and a dam...
Water was not moving over the dam so we could get close to look at it and look over its edge.
Looking from the dam, back under North Main St... and the bridge further back is Rt. 4.

There were many upturned trees along the river with exposed roots.  It is amazing to see how a strong tree can fall like that, but it is beautiful to see that life continues and becomes habitat to more plants and critters!


Not long after we were on the water we saw an eagle.  We saw it go down behind a group of trees and we paddled quickly to see where it had gone.  We were lucky enough to see it close to the ground, on a log.  It was eating something.  It was beautiful to watch. 

The eagle flew away and landed in a tree nearby. 
There were a lot of trees overhanging the river.  I love paddling beneath them.  And.. the reflections were incredible. 
And there were amazing stumps and roots!
This is Donna doing what she does... taking photos!  (Check out her pics at Donna Knowles Photography!)

We also saw a heron. and got to watch it on a log for a while and saw it again, at least I think it was the same one, later in the trip.  Love seeing them.  The sun also started coming out so the lighting changed... it is so cool to see how things look so different as the sun comes out. 

This was a cool area to explore.  In the spring the water  must be so higher.  We scooted in here and explored, but it got pretty shallow. 
When we paddled out of here I saw this bottle... I was so excited!  Could this be a message in a bottle???
It was a message in a bottle.  
I was hoping to find a note of love or a note talking about a kid doing a science experiment, trying to find where the bottle traveled... it was not.  
Sadly, it was a note... a page from a journal maybe... from a distressed adolescent. The kid wrote about their depression, how hard this pandemic had been... and indicated thoughts of suicide.  
It was also dated... April 2020... 
I take notes like this seriously.  
While I knew there was nothing immediate we could do... I knew it was a kid that needed help.  So... I put the note back in the bottle... and before we went home we stopped at the Androscoggin County Sheriff's department and gave it to them.  I hope this young person is getting support.  
This note is also a reminder that we all need to make sure we are supporting each other, checking in on each other... and being kind to ourselves.  Please take care of yourself.  And... reach out when you need help.  We all need help... given the state of the world... how could we not?
After finding the note we paddled on... knowing that we would take the note to the police after we paddled and knowing the note was from April... but.. I think that note made me appreciate the rest of our adventure a bit more... paddling is my therapy... I have shared here before that I have anxiety.  It has not gone away.  It is there, every day... as the election gets closer... it is getting worse... I am scared for our future.  so.. for me, right now, paddling is a priority. I NEED to paddle... as much as I can for as long as I can.  I am trying to put these images, this beauty in my 'reserve' tank to get me through the months where I can't paddle. 

Because the water levels were a bit down... finding places to stop for a stretch break was challenging.  Many places were very muddy, deep mud and then drop offs... but we found a place... a place with sand.. and we took advantage of it! 

We got to a place where we had to decide whether to go left or right... we chose right and ended up near a campground... we learned is Martin Stream Campground.  So.. when we made that right, we were choosing to explore Martin's stream.  I will definitely check them out sometime! 
We decided at that point we would turn around and head back.  I had not brought Gladys with me because I could not remember if there were places to easily get out and give her a break.  So I had to get home for her.  I have no idea how far we paddled, but it was a good distance!

One of my favorite parts of this trip was the high banks and canopy of the trees... it created such contrast in the lighting... light and dark... and the colors popped.  I love Maine!
Have you ever seen these mushrooms? From what I have learned it is called Chicken of the Woods.  (Please do your own research though!!). Apparently it is edible and... tastes like.... yup you guessed it.. chicken!  I cannot attest to this because I do not like mushrooms.. but... I do love the colors and texture!

I loved seeing my fellow paddler along the shore with the tall trees and reflections... being reminded that we are, in the scheme of things, small... can be helpful. 

On the way back we paused at one of the arches we had paddled under.  We had noticed this inner tube stuck on a branch, but didn't want to carry it the whole way.  I thought it would just pull off, but it had a lot of water in it and was pretty heavy.  Donna had brought a knife with her and we were able to drain the water out... and it came back to the launch site with me... paddling with it on my kayak was TIRE-ing.... the fact we found it in the river, trash, was deflating... we had a lot of other play on words as we paddled... I may have even broken into a few verses of  'Rolling on the River...'  doooo whahhhp doo doo doo doo doo......

Donna going under one of the arches...

On the way back we saw this turtle... 
She stood proudly in her position... she looked like she was presiding over the water, if you will... so.. I named her RUTH!

I think her name is definitely Ruth! 
(Couldn't resist!)

After seeing Ruth this heron allowed us to watch it for a long time.  
It was preening and was doing a great job!!  It was fun to watch it. 

As we were watching the heron Donna asked me how I felt about snakes... why was she asking? because this snake was coming up behind me!  Truthfully I do not like snakes... I do not want one in my kayak with me... I do not want to get too close.. but... they are cool in their own way.  This snake had beautiful coloring and it was one of the longer snakes I have seen here in Maine... it was easily two and a half feet long! 

After having lunch with the heron... sssstopping to vissssit with the sssssnake... we paddled back towards the launch... we saw a couple more turtles... 
This turtle.. looks like it has lost a back foot... maybe a snapping turtle?!

Again, on the way back we had the encounter with the fox... so incredibly fortunate to have the wildlife sightings on this river.  
We were worried about the water levels of the Nezinscot being low, because so many places are low right now... but the level was plenty high.  We did have a backup plan... we were going to head to the Androscoggin River, Riverlands... we know plan Bs are important.. but.. the Nezinscot welcomed us with open arms!  It was another great day on the water!

Horseshoe Pond, Lovell Maine


(Photo by Donna Knowles).


Body of Water: Horseshoe Pond  [Map 10, D1]

Directions:  From Portland, head into Fryeburg.  Head  North on Rt. 5.  (towards the fairgrounds!)  From the intersection of Rt 302 and Rt 5 drive 11.5 miles on Rt 5 and turn LEFT onto West Lovell Rd.  Stay on this road for about 2.7 miles (Crossing over the Kezar Lake Narrows) then go straight onto Foxboro Rd.  (do not bear right to stay on West Lovell Rd.) Stay on Foxboro for about 2 miles, then turn right onto Horseshoe Pond Road.  

In about a mile you will easily see the pond, the launch, and parking. 

Parking: Parking is across the road from the launch site. There is a fairly large dirt area for parking.  I can see that on a busy day this lot could fill up quickly.  But... when you get there early... in the fall.. it was pretty empty! 


Launch: The launch is great!  A gradual, sandy put in!  (My favorite kind!)  It is big enough for small trailered boats. 

Fees: None!

Bathroom: None!

Wildlife: We saw a pair of loons, one adult, one juvenile.  I would anticipate other wildlife here at other times.

Notes:  This place is stunning!  A friend of mine lives in Colorado and has told me when he visits me in Maine I show him places that don't have mountains... I tell him in Maine we can head north to Katahdin to see THE mountain... or go to NH to see the mountains... but this little pond... made me feel like I was in the mountains!  Of course, being in western Maine this area is close to the White Mountains.  I LOVE looking at the Whites from the trip to Kezar Pond.   and while Horseshoe Pond is surrounded by hills and not mountains... it is stunning!!  

Here is a topographical map (from google) of the area: 

In this pond you are nestled between the hills... and it is a very cool feeling.  This place is very small compared to other places I have paddled.  You could easily do this pond in a very short amount of time... but on my adventure here... we lingered... enjoying the incredible views!


 From the launch you can see this lobster buoy.  It is marking a pretty large rock that is under the surface of the water.  I am sure the boaters greatly appreciate it!  I think... it's pretty cool to have a buoy in a pond like this!

When we arrived it was a bit overcast.. but that did not take away the beauty in any way!  This place really took my breath away.  

Here is a photo of Donna amidst the reflection.  It is great to paddle with someone who also enjoys these places in the same way I do. We both love the serenity and taking photos of this stillness and appreciate the wildlife! 

The foliage has been interesting this year.  People have said that we are beyond peak... and I can see that in some ways, but there are also still a lot of green leaves on the trees.  This trip displayed the best colors I have seen this season. 

I was so in love with this place!

The rocks here offered a nice contrast in my view. 

I took so many pictures here!  (Both camera and phone!).

Before long we were greeted by two loons, an adult and a juvenile.  
They treated us to many calls.  I will try to get a video posted here, but they do not upload as easily as photos! 
This is the adult... changing into its winter garb.  

Here is the adult and the younger loon. 
The adult was very vocal!

No matter where we were on the pond... the view was stunning.

Often when we paddle we look forward... but it is always important to also check out the view where you have been... with this view I was not disappointed!
Miss Gladys joined this adventure!
An Old Town Canoe... on the shore of a camp... with fall foliage... could not resist taking this one!
We heard the geese before we saw them...  To be honest, this photo is a total accident.  I heard them, pointed and clicked... and this came up in between plain blue shots... lucky shot!

There were a few rocks that stood above the water here, adding to the beauty!

At one part of the pond there was a nice dock system.  As I paddled by I noticed a sign, but could not read it from where I was.. so paddled closer.  I saw this sign... Gun Traps Set... So.. I guess this property doesn't want people on it! 

But on the other side of the pond.. at the top of the U, there was a very nice place to take a break.  We stopped there twice for breaks for Gladys... and to have a snack. 
Gladys  wanted our food.. and without being asked to do so, sat pretty!! Ha!
And.. she perfected the over the shoulder begging!
And.. I found a salamander!
Look at those eyes!

Looking back out to the pond through the trees.

After our break we got back on the water to explore the rest of the U... 
Gladys offered to paddle... just kidding... she really just wanted more food.  

This girl... someone said this should be my holiday card... it may be! 

Once we had gotten to the far side of the U we turned back and the loons once again made an appearance.  The lighting was a bit better for photos this time!

I cannot get enough of her...

I hope you enjoyed this trip to Horseshoe Pond.  

I am so glad I got to explore here, especially with the foliage.