June 8, 2014 by Geoff Davis
Before I hit the water next week I wanted put a few plans and intentions on paper. If you have any other questions about my journey feel free to ask. I’m also using this opportunity to become familiar with blogging from an iPad mini.
What is the Northern Forest Canoe Trail?
The NFCT extends for 740 miles across contiguous rivers, streams, and lakes, following Native American travel routes from Old Forge, New York, through Vermont, Québec, and New Hampshire, to Fort Kent, Maine. In addition to being a paddling route, the Trail celebrates the history of the Northern Forest. Paddlers will be able to explore both the natural beauty of the rivers and lakes as well as the communities through which the trail passes. http://www.northernforestcanoetrail.org
Are the portages or carries?
Yes, no matter what term you use or how it’s pronounce I will be moving the canoe and gear over land. Carries are as short as a few yards and as long as 8.5 miles. I will be carrying wheels for long portages on prepared surfaces. This means that on rough carries I have to pack and carry those wheels. There are over 50 miles of carries over the course of the trail.
It’s all downstream, right?
Nope. After crossing Lake Champlain, the sixth largest lake in North America, I will begin the 74 mile up the Missisquoi River into Quebec. To make progress upstream I will be tracking (pulling the canoe with long lines), poling (standing and pushing with a long pole), portaging/carrying and paddling.
Will you make it to the end?
I don’t know. I’m considering myself a through paddler. I’d like to paddle the 740 miles. However, I’ve no idea what my ace will be on the trail. I’m not sure how conditioned I am. I’m out there to enjoy the landscape and birds. I may paddle 30 miles and camp for five weeks. I may paddle the 740 miles. I suspect the answer is somewhere in between.
What are you doing with your truck?
My good friends Gordie and Donna Felt live and run a children’s camps near the beginning of the trail. I will leave the truck with them and they will see me off at Old Forge on Sunday morning.
Later in the season my friends Sandy Sheets and Sonia Cassell will be vacationing in Maine. On a designated day, to be decided tonight, they will meet me. They will know where I am the same wat that you will using the tracking reports from the satellite device I am wearing. (See the column, right, to see how you can track me, too.)
After they find me they will hand off some pre-packed clean clothes and transport the canoe and me back to Gordy and Donna’s home in the Adirondacks.
Where will you get food?
The trail passes through communities often. I will shop in groceries and carry 3-4 days supply of food and eat in restaurants.
Where will you sleep?
Most nights will be spent in my very tiny tent. There are many, many designated campsites along the route. Most are free and first come first served.
Occasionally I may get a hotel room in order to rest, clean up and update this blog.
Why a canoe called Joe?
From the earliest planning stages I wanted the boat to reflect my obsession with birds. The trip is about observing birds and adding to my life list. In many ways crows are my favorite birds. Many years ago I rescued a crow from the playground at the school where I taught. It was tame and begged shiny objects from the students. I brought him home and named him Joe (What else?). He hung around a few days and went off to traumatize more children on playgrounds. Since then I’ve called all crows Joe.
My boat, a 15 foot 1958 Old Town Canoe, came to me named Naulakha, after Rudyard Kipling’s Vermont home. Officially, out of a great deal of respect for its former owner, it maintains the name–but I call it Joe. A Canoe Called Joe.