What a Ride!
|Big water on the Dead River|
The Dead lived up to its billing with a couple hours' worth of continuous thrashings and thumpings from foaming hot spots like "Humpty Dumpty," "Elephant Rock," and, just when you think it's all over, raging Poplar Hill Falls. But it never packed anything as deadly as Magic Falls. I would certainly recommend running it during one of the high water releases (May 8, 15, and 30; June 5 and 12; September 5; and October 2).
It was great to raft two rivers in two days without having to travel several hours to reach the second. When the Dead is really dead, your only other option is the Penobscot, and the only sensible way to raft both the Kennebec and Penobscot in one trip is to position yourself midway between on Moosehead Lake.
Selecting an outfitter is actually the most difficult exercise of the entire rafting trip. Let it be said that the safety records for all are excellent, or they wouldn't be in this rigorously monitored business. All offer the basics: a river ride with a hearty steak, chicken, or fish cookout at its end and then a chance to view (and buy) slides or video of the day's adventure.
Obviously, lodging packages and creature comforts vary. In booking a trip, you might want to ask about the special trips that some outfitters offer younger children; otherwise, the minimum age on the Dead River and the upper Kennebec is 12 (8 on the lower sections).
Don't simply drive all that way to The Forks just for a day. Stay on to take advantage of the camping expeditions, rock climbing, mountain bike rentals, and canoe and kayak rentals offered by some outfitters. Rafting in The Forks also can be combined with a visit to nearby Moosehead Lake or to Quebec City.
To save calling around for availability, call Raft Maine, an association of 13 outfitters (800-RAFT-MEE).
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication