Published Oct 14, 2013
There might be an exception or two, but the Kennebec River Ferry Service closed out another season on Monday, October 14, 2013, according to our conversation with David Corrigan of Fletcher Mountain Outfitters, who runs the "only human-powered ferry in America."
When northbound Appalachian Trail hikers need it most -- May 24th through October 14th this year -- David and his crew make the portage across the swift Kennebec River quick, safe, easy and dry. As compared to slow, dangerous, arduous, wet and stupid.
This otherwise hidden treasure is, obviously, on the Kennebec River, not far from Caratunk, Maine. (Caratunk, for the curious, appears to be about halfway between Rangeley and Monson.)
The Maine Appalachian Trail Club's website states the need for this service:
The Kennebec River is the most formidable un-bridged crossing along the entire 2,174-mile Appalachian Trail.
The Kennebec is approximately 70-yards wide with a swift, powerful current under the best of circumstances. However, as a result of releases of water from hydro facilities upstream, the depth and current of the river surge quickly and unpredictably. You cannot cross faster than the water level rises.
That doesn't exactly say you'll drown if you don't use the ferry, but it comes close enough for me.
This ferry might be different from what initially comes to mind: a Mississippi paddleboat with swarthy gamblers and svelte river belles.
The Kennebec River ferry is a 16-foot red canoe that neatly fits two AT hikers, packs and poles, with enough extra room for one dog (or goat, believe it or not).
On a good day -- after you put on the mandatory life preserver and sign papers releasing everyone on God's green earth from lawsuits you might file -- you can make it from shore to shore in a minute or two, according to David. Gnarly currents and/or bad weather might extend your cruise to 15 minutes, but it's better than trying to cross the river otherwise.
After all, the price is right: Free for AT hikers, subsidized by the Maine Appalachian Trail Club and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy during the regular season.
You will find reports on the Internet that the Kennebec River Ferry runs on a "non-guaranteed" and "time and weather permitting" basis after the season ends on October 14th.
This year, David says, that is less likely than ever. One reason is there is little demand -- even though the trek costs $50 after the season closes. Evidently, many folks who made appointments didn't keep them and didn't call to cancel.
We're thankful for David, the MATC and the ATC for their efforts to make the Appalachian Trail as safe as possible.
Fletcher Mountain Outfitters
David P. Corrigan
Registered Maine Master Guide
82 Little Houston Brook Road
Concord Township, Maine 04920
Tags: Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Appalachian Trail, News, Closings, Appalachian Trail Clubs, and Maine Appalachian Trail Club
The Kennebec River Ferry will run from May 27 -- October 10, 2016. This free service for AT hikers is provided by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy.
AT hikers risk their lives fording the Kennebec River on foot instead of taking David Corrigan's ferry over the Trail's most formidable crossing.
David Corrigan posted his final 2015 Kennebec Ferry Report on the Maine Appalachian Trail Club (MATC) website. Please read these vital portions.
The best trail mix is healthy, tasty and beneficial. So is this Appalachian Trail advice that will inspire you and empower you to thrive the Trail.
Published Oct 9, 2013.