June is the month of regeneration. A superb place to experience that annual wonder is the Canaan Bog.

This winding waterway, about 12 miles east of Skowhegan and south of Sibley Pond, redefines the word serpentine. Most of your outing will be spent paddling east and west to gain a mile or two of progress south. That is part of the allure of this peaceful cocoon of wilderness. What will you find around the next bend?

We paddled a total of three hours roundtrip, taking lots of pictures, sometimes just sitting still in the canoe listening to red-winged blackbirds and bullfrogs competing for auditory supremacy over the marsh.

As you leave the Route 2 bridge, the marsh edge is lined with dense white clusters of leatherleaf mixed with the pink petals of rhodora. The marsh grasses and reeds are still in their infancy so you will be able to view out over the marsh to rows of swamp maples whose leaves paint a vibrant green against the clear blue early afternoon sky.

The sound of Route 2 traffic is soon left behind and the sounds of nature take over. We came upon a Canada goose who insisted of leading us down the waterway staying 15-20 yards ahead of us for the next 10 minutes. We wondered why it didn’t just fly off and circle back behind us. That mystery would be solved on the way back. Wispy afternoon cirrus clouds slowly filled the sky creating a beautiful iridescence in the southern sky. Sandpipers flitted ahead of us much of the way down and back.

Ducks continually erupted up out of the marsh grasses at every bend in the stream. It was hard to identify them as they shot up out of the grasses and quickly wheeled out of sight. One duck emerged out of the grass yards away and scurried across the stream to the other side followed frantically by five ducklings. They looked like black fluff balls, and shot across the water in a crazy zigzag route. Around another bend a muskrat swam toward us unaware of our silent gliding approach. A few feet away from the canoe it nonchalantly slipped down into the water.

As we passed by a tussock of grass I heard a rustling in the grass and turned to catch a snapping turtle dropping into the water. Snapping turtles are one of eight species of turtles in Maine, and many live to 40 years of age.

As we neared the halfway point on the return we paddled over to the right to examine a beaver lodge. As we looked things over our gaze zeroed in on the top of the lodge. A black and white stick appeared out of the debris on the top. We saw that it was attached to the light brown body of a female Canada goose on her nest. It had heard us pull up and had flattened itself into the sticks and curved its neck to look like a bent stick. My wife snapped a picture as I slowly backpaddled. The goose surely reasoned that it had tricked us and that we had not seen it. And it became clear that the other goose we had seen earlier had been leading us away from the nest. Yes, on this outing there are surprises around every turn.

Back near the boat launch we paddled under the Route 2 bridge for a quick look up Sibley Pond. My wife noticed a distinctive black lump on the end of a white pine branch a quarter mile away. I could barely see the tree but my wife had already identified the lump as a bald eagle. We paddled up under the tree to enjoy its regal majesty as it peered out over the cove.

Consult the Delorme Maine Atlas and Gazetteer (map No. 21) for help in getting to the boat launch area on Route 2 just west of the Canaan-Pittsfield town line. The boat launch is an old washed out road that was at one time the original Route 2 at the southern end of Sibley Pond.

Note: By portaging over a couple of beaver dams you will be able to explore farther down into the bog than we did on our visit.

Michael Perry is the former director of the L.L.Bean Outdoor Discovery Schools, and founder of Dreams Unlimited, specializing in inspiring outdoor slide programs for civic groups, businesses, and schools.

Contact: [email protected]

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