There are still open spots in the Northern Forest Explorers program, which sends children aged 10-14 years old on 5-day paddling trips in the Adirondacks. Partial and full scholarships are given to children who cannot afford the cost ($500) of the trip.
The Adirondack trips are organized by Raquette River Outfitters in Tupper Lake, in collaboration with the Northern Forest Canoe Trail. Participating children are provided all of the essential camping and paddling gear. » Continue Reading.
The Northern Forest Canoe Trail is currently recruiting to fill four stewardship intern positions: two roving crew positions that will work in New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine, plus two positions that will concentrate on stewarding Maine’s iconic Bow Loop Trail.
The program is 10 weeks, running from June 12 to August 18. Interns will receive four weeks of training in the areas of leadership, paddling, and trail construction. They will then spend the remaining weeks taking turns leading volunteers on stewardship projects, ranging from campsite installation to water access and portage construction. » Continue Reading.
The Northern Forest Canoe Trail’s 12th Annual Online Auction is now live until December 1, 2016. Proceeds support the nonprofit’s mission to maintain and protect access to the longest inland water trail in the nation.
The auction includes name brand paddling and camping gear made by ExPed, Kokatat, Mitchell Paddles, Patagonia, Seattle Sports and Pelican watertight cases. Paddle craft include an Advanced Elements inflatable kayak package, an NRS inflatable SUP package and a 16-foot Wenonah Adirondack Ultralight Kevlar canoe ($2,699 value). » Continue Reading.
Last month, Northern Forest Canoe Trail (NFCT) staff and volunteers spent a day replacing bog bridging and repairing a pedestrian bridge on the Indian Carry, a portage that connects Stony Creek Ponds to Upper Saranac Lake. The improved path helps deter trail widening and makes carrying canoes and kayaks safer.
Six volunteers removed a deteriorating bridge and replaced it with 60 feet of boardwalk. Lumber and materials where provided by the New York Department of Environmental Conservation. The Adirondack Land Trust, which was instrumental in conserving this property and constructing the portage trail in the 1980s, provided funding for this project. » Continue Reading.
The final week of a month-long celebration of paddling and water-based activities kicks off this weekend in Saranac Lake with the Adirondack SUP Festival at Lake Colby beach.
The SUP festival, which is organized by Adirondack Lakes and Trails Outfitters, starts Friday and continues until Sunday. The festival will feature tours, clinics, gear demos, and races. » Continue Reading.
John Connelly became the first Northern Forest Canoe Trail (NFCT) thru-paddler this season when he reached Fort Kent, Maine on Tuesday, May 24. He left Old Forge on April 16th, on the first leg of a 1,500-mile journey that combines the 740-mile Northern Forest Canoe Trail (NFCT), the Maine Island Trail, and the waterways that connect them.
Founded in 2000 and officially opened in 2006, the 740-mile Northern Forest Canoe Trail consists of 22 rivers and streams, 58 lakes and ponds and 63 portages that stretch from Old Forge to Fort Kent, winding through Vermont, Québec and New Hampshire. The trail follows traditional travel routes used by Native Americans, early settlers and guides. It is one of the longest inland water trails in the United States. » Continue Reading.
The second annual Paddlers Freshet Fest will take place June 10–11 in Saranac Lake. Organized by the Northern Forest Canoe Trail, the festival celebrates the kickoff of the summer paddling season and provides a setting for thru-paddlers—those who have paddled the entire 740-mile trail—to gather.
Already this season, one thru-paddler has completed the trail. John Connelly of Maine finished the long-distance journey on Tuesday. He started on April 16. But he’s not done yet. Connelly is following waterways from Fort Kent, Maine to the Atlantic Ocean, where he will paddle the Maine Island Trail. He hopes to paddle 1,500 miles over 75 days. His trip is dedicated to inspiring other people to get outdoors. » Continue Reading.
The Northern Forest Canoe Trail and Adirondack Lakes and Trails are co-hosting the Reel Paddling Film Festival tonight, April 8, at 7 pm at the Lake Placid Center for the Arts. The award-winning films tell stories about canoeing, kayaking, and the privilege of having wild places to paddle.
Film themes include kayaking the Aleutians and a multi-sport adventure on Baffin Island. One of the feature films, Paddle for the North, tells the story of a six-man expedition team and their 1,500-kilometer journey through the Yukon and Peel river watersheds. » Continue Reading.
The nonprofit that founded and organizes the Northern Forest Canoe Trail (and shares its name) is celebrating its 15th anniversary in 2015.
The longest canoe trail in the nation, the 740-mile Northern Forest Canoe Trail starts in Old Forge and ends in Fort Kent, Maine. It goes through Vermont, Québec, and New Hampshire following Native American travel routes.
The organization was founded when Vermonters Kay Henry and Rob Center, former owners of the Mad River Canoe company, first heard the idea of the trail from a group of paddlers researching the route. They loved the idea of the adventure, but were compelled by a larger vision. “We knew that the region had been through decades of decline in the forest products industries that had been the economic driver for generations,” Henry said. “We saw this trail as a means to help support the development of nature-based tourism across the North Country and an opportunity to diversify the economy.” » Continue Reading.
Big changes are planned for the Imperial Dam on the Saranac River in Plattsburgh.
On Friday, the state Department of Conservation announced that it is taking comments on a plan to modify the dam, which is located a few miles upstream of Lake Champlain. The proposal calls for decreasing the height of the spillway by 8.5 feet and constructing a concrete fish ladder on the left bank, or northern side, of the dam, which the DEC owns. The other side is privately owned. » Continue Reading.
For more than a century, paddlers traveling between Utowana and Raquette lakes have used a trail known as the Marion River Carry — a portage around rapids in the Marion River. In recent years that access has been threatened after the owner announced plans to build several homes along Utowana Lake.
A fierce opposition to development near the carry was raised by local residents and outdoor enthusiasts and today the Open Space Institute (OSI) has announced that it has acquired 295 acres surrounding the Marion Carry. » Continue Reading.
The Proposed Final Draft of the Taylor Pond Wild Forest Unit Management Plan (UMP) was released today for public comment by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the Adirondack Park Agency (APA).
DEC staff presented the Proposed Final UMP to the APA Board at their monthly meeting on December 13, 2012. At noon, the State Land Committee heard an informational “first reading” of the UMP. The Agency will now hold a public comment period to solicit comments related to the proposed UMP’s compliance with the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan (SLMP). APA will accept written comment on SLMP compliance for the proposals contained in the draft UMP until noon on Tuesday, January 2, 2013. The APA Board is scheduled to render a determination of SLMP compliance for this UMP at the January 10- 11, 2013 Agency meeting. The final step in the process is approval of the UMP by DEC Commissioner Joseph Martens. » Continue Reading.
The Northern Forest Canoe Trail’s film festival in Lake Placid on Friday night will feature footage from all over the world, from Russia to Hawaii, from the Grand Canyon to the North Atlantic. But for many Adirondackers, the highlight will be a movie made by Saranac Lake resident Mike Lynch.
Lynch, an outdoors writer for the Adirondack Daily Enterprise, canoed the 740-mile Northern Forest Canoe Trail last summer—from Old Forge to Fort Kent, Maine—and has created a 37-minute film about his adventure titled Through Paddle. Click here to read my earlier interview with Lynch on Adirondack Almanack. » Continue Reading.
My Adirondack family has finally stored the winter gear and is getting ready to take out the canoes for a paddle. Safety is always a concern when paddling with children so we want to take whatever precautions necessary to assure a fun experience.
Adirondacks Lakes and Trails Outfitters owner Steve Doxzon says, “This time of year it’s the cold water that is the biggest issue. People need to dress for the water temperature not the air temperature. It may be 70 degrees outside but the water is still only 37 degrees.”
Doxzon especially urges a person kayaking to dress accordingly as there is a greater chance for capsizing and hypothermia. He reminds paddlers that sudden changes in conditions, like windy days, are something to be wary of when getting out on Adirondack lakes, rivers and ponds.
He also reminds boaters that from November 1 to May 1, it is NYS law that life jackets must be worn by all people on a boat under 21feet in length. Though he recommends all his clients to wear Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs) at all times, the law only requires boaters to have approved wearable life vests for each person available during those months. After May 1st, pleasure vessels must have US Coast Guard approved wearable PFDs on board for each person on the vessel. All children under 12 (aboard boats 65 feet or less)are always required to wear a PFD.
“We didn’t get a lot of snow this year so there isn’t the snow pack from the mountains. The rivers are not running as high as usual,” says Doxzon. “That may give people a false sense of security. It is really the water temperature people need to be prepared for. It has been getting down into the 20s each night so the water is going to be cold.”
According to Doxzon a person can reach exhaustion or unconsciousness in water temperatures below 32 degrees in less than 15 minutes. He reminds paddlers that in these cold-water temperatures to stay close to shore where they can get back to shore or in their boat in that 15-minute window.
If this is a bit early to be out on the water, Adirondack Lakes and Trails Outfitters is hosting the Reel Paddling Film Festival on April 27that 7:00 p.m. at the Lake Placid Center for the Arts. With a mix of paddle sport films, door prizes and silent auctions, all proceeds will go to support the Northern Forest Canoe trail.
With over 50 stops throughout Canada and the U.S., the Reel Paddling Film Fest showcases the best paddling films with the hopes of encouraging more people to explore the world waterways.
Doxzon says, “The Northern Forest Canoe Trail is a 740-miletrail from Old Forge to Fort Kent, Maine. This festival supports efforts to maintain this trail.”
So whether you’re just starting out or an experiencedpaddler, be careful during this seasonal transition into the summer paddlingseason. Enjoy yourself and explore those Adirondack waterways!
Diane Chase is the author of Adirondack Family Time Lake Placid and the High Peaks: Your Four-Season Guide to Over 300 activities. Her second Adirondack Family Activities book for the Champlain Valley will be in stores summer 2012.
More than seven thousand people have climbed all forty-six of the Adirondack High Peaks. Not to denigrate the achievement of those hikers, but bagging the peaks is no longer a rare feat.
In contrast, only forty or so people have paddled the entire length of the Northern Forest Canoe Trail—a 740-mile route that starts in Old Forge and ends in northern Maine.
One of them is Mike Lynch, the outdoors writer for the Adirondack Daily Enterprise. Lynch paddled the NFCT this past summer and wrote about his adventure for the newspaper and his website, Northeast Outdoors. He also is working on a documentary film.
Lynch will give a slide show on the forty-five-day trip at the Guides House in Lake Placid at 7 p.m. Sunday, October 9. The Guides House is next-door to High Peaks Cyclery on Main Street.For more information on the talk, e-mail Lynch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meantime, you might be interested in reading Lynch’s responses to questions we asked about his trek.
Just to set the scene: the Adirondack leg of the Northern Forest Canoe Trail starts on Fulton Chain of Lakes and ends on Lake Champlain. Paddlers canoe down the lake and then along various rivers and water bodies in Vermont, Quebec, New Hampshire, and Maine. The route has a number of tough carries, so Mike brought a canoe cart.
Lynch did the trip solo from Old Forge to Saranac Lake, where he was joined by Jacob Resneck, a friend who used to work at the Enterprise. After Jacob left, Mike was joined by his fiancée, Ariel Diggory.
What was your favorite part of NFCT in Adirondacks?
“On the Raquette River just after you enter it from the northern end of Long Lake. I entered this section in late evening, and the lighting was spectacular. The reflections on the water were near perfect. There was also a young loon ahead of me for a short period.”
What was your favorite part outside New York?
“I enjoyed nearly the entire 350-mile section in Maine, starting with Umbagog Lake and ending on the St. John River in Fort Kent. Some of the highlights included paddling on glass-like water on Umbagog, Flagstaff, and Moosehead lakes either just before sunset or during it. The rapids and wildlife on the Allagash River were also amazing. We saw about a dozen moose in that region, along with probably thirty bald eagles.”
What was the hardest portage?
“The hardest portage was what I thought was the Mud Pond Carry in Maine, but in retrospect may have been some other path. The first section was in a bog; then the trail led to a forested area with a lot of large brush from prior logging operations that was difficult and dangerous to walk over. Another hard portage was a twenty-mile walk from Rangeley, Maine, to Stratton on a paved state road. Although this portage was long, it wasn’t too bad because the road was paved and we had wheels.”
And the scariest whitewater?
“I wouldn’t characterize any whitewater we did as scary. We paddled Class I and II rapids and portaged around Class III and up. Because we scouted the more challenging rapids, we were able to pick lines that we could handle. The highest waves we faced were on the St. John River because the area received a lot of rain while we were in that region. In one short section, the waves were breaking over the gunnels as we paddled. The most difficult paddling was actually on windy lakes. We faced large swells and very strong winds several times.”
Best wildlife sighting?
“That’s an easy one. Ariel and I saw an abundance of wildlife at the north end of Churchill Lake on the Allagash Wilderness Waterway one evening after an especially intense thunder and lightning storm. The water here is a few hundred feet across as it narrows into an outlet that leads to a dam. As we arrived there, we were greeted by a rainbow. Then we saw two loons on our left. Then a moose, half-submerged in the water, appeared on our right. After seeing it, we decided to float and watch it feed in the water for a while. As we were sitting there, a young calf stood up in the grass on the shore. Then an eagle swooped down on our left and caught a fish. There was also about a dozen Canada geese swimming very close to the moose and four or five otters playing in the water to our left. The scene ended with the moose walking out of the water. But before leaving, she nursed the calf. We watched this entire scene for about forty-five minutes, enjoying every second of it.”
Most memorable people encounter?
“There were many, many memorable people encounters. I met great people everywhere. I found that the people in the smallest towns were often the friendliest and most down to earth. In Rangley, for instance, a couple named Bruce and Claudia let us store my canoe under their house while we stayed at the Rangeley Inn across the street. I also used their computer, and Bruce took me on a drive for moose.”
Was the NFCT easy to follow?
“For the most part, but we did experience a few problems. One of the difficulties we had was trying to follow some of the portages that used streets. We got off track in Plattsburgh and a few small towns in Vermont early in the trip. In Quebec, New Hampshire, and Maine, most everything was straightforward. Well, except for the Mud Pond portage and maybe the Spencer Stream area in Maine.”
Did you have any unforeseen difficulties?
“I guess the size of the waves on some of the lakes were larger than I anticipated. I had heard stories about the large swells on Lake Champlain, Raquette Lake, and many lakes in Maine, but it’s a different thing to experience them. Also, walking upstream on the rocks was tough at times because the rocks on the river bottoms were extremely slippery. The first half of the trip I also had pretty bad blisters from my new watershoes.”
How often were you paddling upstream?
The majority of upstream paddling occurs between Vermont and Maine. It starts on the Missisquoi River as you leave Lake Champlain and is pretty constant with a few exceptions until Errol, New Hampshire. I read in an Adirondack Explorer article that there are 160 miles of upstream paddling. I never added it up myself. It seems like a lot when you’re about halfway through the trip. Luckily, the majority of the second half of the trip is downriver or on lakes and ponds. The worst upstream section was probably on Little Spencer Stream in Maine because the water was so low.”
Did you go through customs at the Quebec border?
“Yes, on the Missisquoi River in Vermont I had to walk up a hill, then cross a bridge to the customs station. I was soaked to my waist when I showed my passport card to the border guard. He barely glanced at it, handed it back to me, and we went back down to our canoe.”
How many miles did you paddle a day?
“We averaged fifteen miles per day. Each day was different though. I had three zero days on the trip. Otherwise we paddled between seven and thirty-something miles a day. How much we paddled a day depended upon a number of variables, including weather, the type of water. And whether I had any interviews to do that day. I took thousands of photos on the trip and hours and hours of video. That slowed us down.”
How often did you paddle in rain?
“It was very dry in June and July. I didn’t paddle in the rain until just outside of Jackman, Maine, about five weeks into my trip. But from Jackman to Fort Kent, it rained several days. There were times Ariel and I had to seek shelter on the shore during thunder and lightning storms. The worst day of just rain was the second-to-last day of the trip on the Allagash and St. John rivers. We paddled more than thirty miles in the rain that day, including a hiking sidetrip to see some old ruins on the Allagash. That was a tough day. It was only about 50 degrees outside. We had to keep moving to stay warm.”
What did you eat?
“When I was with Jacob during the first part of the trip, I ate lots of pasta. We also ate cheese and crackers, beef jerky, canned fish, and an assortment of other things that were easy to cook or could put hot sauce on. I ate granola bars throughout the trip at any time of the day. In Maine, Ariel and I ate packaged Indian food for dinner about one-third of the time. Oatmeal was a good breakfast. For snacks, we had Cheez-its, lots of Gorp, dried fruit, jolly ranchers. One of my favorite meals was dehydrated vegetarian chili. We also had some dehydrated mash potatoes that we mixed with dehydrated vegetables.”
Where did you sleep?
“The vast majority of time we camped out. In the Adirondacks, I slept in lean-tos. In Vermont, Quebec, and New Hampshire, we slept at NFCT-designated campsites, in fields outside of towns or we just pulled over on the riverbank. For the most part in Maine, we were able to utilize designated campsites. Throughout the trip, we also slept at campgrounds a few times. I spent two nights in my own house in Saranac Lake, which is on the trail, two nights in a friends’ house on Lake Champlain, one in a new friends’ house near Stratton, Maine and three nights in a hotel.”
Most useful gear?
“The most useful gear was my canoe, paddles, and wheels. The canoe I used was a seventeen-foot Old Town Penobscot. It’s a versatile boat that can handle a variety of situations, from intermediate whitewater to the varying conditions of lakes. As for paddles, I had one lightweight carbon-fiber bent shaft paddle for flatwater and a wooden straight shaft Sawyer Voyager paddle for rapids and situations where I needed something durable. Because there are a lot of long portages, I believe wheels are essential. Another thing that’s essential is a tube-repair kit and extra tubes. I popped about five tires on the trip.”
Advice for those attempting the trip?
“My advice for those doing the trip is to talk to others who have done the trip already, read their blogs, and learn from their experiences. It helped me get a better understanding of what I was getting into. Also, consider the time of year. In the spring, the water will be cold and high. In the summer, the water levels will be a little lower, which will require more portaging. I would also say that it’s important to travel as light as possible without leaving essential gear at home.”
Photo by Mike Lynch: Moose on the Allagash River in Maine.
The Adirondack Almanack's contributors include veteran local writers, historians, naturalists, and outdoor enthusiasts from around the Adirondack region. The Almanack is the online news journal of Adirondack Explorer. Both are nonprofits supported by contributors, readers, and advertisers, and devoted to exploring, protecting, and unifying the Adirondack Park.
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