The Cold River Canoe Trip begins in the White Mountain National Forest in Stow, Maine, then to Fryeburg. The river has frequent twists and turns, channel blocking fallen trees, producing several “opportunities” for short portages.
Follow Route 113 north from Fryeburg or south from Gilead to Deer Hill Road. In less than a mile, the launch site is just downstream of the bridge on the left bank. No parking is available and the landowner has posted a sign asking one to get permission to cross the property. Unfortunately there may be no cell service to call the posted phone number. (Click images for enlargement and GPS locations.)
In April 2014 well over 20 deer appeared, often in pairs and mostly on the left bank. Some may have been observed more than once. The channel was well populated with ducks. Evidence of beaver cuttings explained the lodges in Charles Pond.
At high water, the river flooded over its banks, especially as one approached the pond. The main channel became less obvious and might cause confusion in twilight.
A short crossing of the northeast corner of the pond leads to its outlet. Another mile of paddling brings one to the bridge at Harbor Road in Fryeburg.
Passing the trees standing together in the water in the woods, recalls a passage in G. K. Chesterton’s The Man Who Was Thursday: A Nightmare. “So in plunging into the wood they had a cool shock of shadow, as of divers who plunge into a dim pool. The inside of the wood was full of shattered sunlight and shaken shadows. They made a sort of shuddering veil, almost recalling the dizziness of a cinematograph.”*
Reflections in the still water resonates with another passage: “Syme had for a flash the sensation that the cosmos had turned exactly upside down, that all trees were growing downward and that all stars were under his feet.”
*The cinematograph was an early (1894), sometimes flickering, motion picture technology.
More on early motion picture technology at Northeast Historic Film, http://oldfilm.org/content/brief-history-amateur-film-gauges-and-related-equipment-1899-2001 (accessed April 19, 2014)