Forum Replies Created
Michael The Raquette River is flatwater with some current. It is possible to paddle upstream, although upstream will be slower going depending on water levels and the strength of the paddler. It’s a good idea to check the wind and weather forecast – Long Lake is big enough to be challenging with a stiff headwind. – K
Mack – I doubt there is any cell signal at Churchill Dam. – K
I once came across a Native Trails map of the early Northern Forest Canoe Trail that showed the portage south from Lake Memphremagog into the headwaters of the Lamoille River, and down the Lamoille to Lake Champlain. A local committee has recently been creating a Lamoille River Paddlers Trail, working with landowners to improve river access and portages and create primitive campsites. The Missisquoi is generally the better route for upstream travel than is the Lamoille, so at some point the proposed NFCT was re-routed. Another intriguing side-route to explore!
Fascinating! Thank-you Sandy and Ron! I’ve wondered about that for many years, and I am glad I finally asked. And, I’m driving to Chamberlain Lake on Monday for a paddle trip with friends – I wonder if I can convince them them to, um, deviate slightly from our previously agreed upon route…
Thank-you for buying the maps! 🙂
There are a number of ways to download maps for off-line navigation. Google maps currently allows this, I believe, although the area you can download at one time is limited. I think that would give you access to NFCT features that have been located on Google Maps. Want to try it and let us know? There are also aps that allow you to download USGS topo maps. GAIA GPS, Backpacker GPS, and Backcountry Navigator are commercial aps aimed at smartphone-carrying backcountry travelers. I bet one of those would be useful for navigating the Trail, although so far as I know there is nothing offering current campsites and portage routes. Some day, I’m sure!
I carry a Garmin 64s handheld GPS for fun, work, and duties as a search and rescue volunteer. I download to it Garmin’s proprietary versions of the USGS 7 1/2 minute topo maps and overhead aerial/ satellite imagery for areas of interest. More and more of my colleagues are doing the same on smartphones. Handheld GPS units have tiny crappy screens compared to a phone or tablet, and the proprietary maps make sharing data a pita. On the plus side, my Garmin is waterproof, I can carry fresh batteries in the field, and I can work it even wearing mittens in a blizzard.
I bet within a few years we’ll have a complete NFCT map/ navigation ap available for download, and a paddle-powered cellphone charger, both reasonably priced through the NFCT store. Stay tuned?
Happy trails – I was out in my canoe (and dry suit) on Tuesday. Paddling season is here! – K
Whitesock – The NFCT section maps are not available digitally. The NFCT website does contain a map tool [URL=”http://http://www.northernforestcanoetrail.org/tripplanner%5D” that gives a basic overview of the trail, including links to services near the trail. Some paddlers with blogs have included screen shots from google earth showing their routes (look for Peter MacFarlane’s blog detailing his heroic cold weather solo through-paddle from 2013). Before trips I have sometimes downloaded topo sections and GIS imagery to my GPS unit.
Having said that, the waterproof paper section maps of the Northern Forest Canoe Trail really are indispensable. Bring a compass, too. Information about NFCT-specific campsites and portages are generally not available elsewhere. The maps don’t require re-charging, don’t break when you drop them, contain a wealth of background information about the history and natural history of the Northern Forest, and work even on the long sections with no cell signal. I would encourage you to go ahead and buy the maps for the sections you plan to paddle. Consider joining the NFCT as a member, too. Membership contributions and volunteer time (along with friendly landowners) are what make the Trail possible. See you on the water! – K
John – Cell coverage has improved a lot over the northern tier of New York and New England over the last few years. Verizon has had the best coverage and probably remains the most popular service for residents up here. I recall service being pretty spotty in places we were camping and eating during the 90-Miler race in the Adirondacks last year. Cell coverage is better along the Missisquoi River (though you might need to climb a hill) in Vermont than it is further east in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom, where you’ll still find service at least occasionally. Finding cell coverage will be increasingly rare as you move through Maine. – K.
Waterrings – Are you planning on paddling solo, or with a partner? – K
Dunno, it took me about 21 years to complete the trail, piece by piece. So far as I know that makes me the holder of the record for the slowest time to paddle the whole trail! – K
Your Kipawa will work just fine. The ideal NFCT tandem is a red pre-1999 Mad River Explorer in the ‘Kevlar Expedition’ layup, but since those are hard to find (mine is NOT for sale) many paddlers are forced into other choices…
From watching the trail registers near my home in Vermont I have the impression that the single most common tandem canoe used by through paddlers has been the Old Town Penobscot. The trail has been successfully paddled in an aluminum Grumman, a number of Wenonah Minnesota 2s and at least one Minnesota 3, home-built cedar strippers, wood-canvas canoes (both vintage and newly home-built), plenty of Royalex boats, and Kevlar canoes in everything from from ultra-light to expedition weight constructions. I heard a rumor that a birchbark canoe made it as far as Vermont last summer.
The most common serious gear failure paddlers experience is failure of their portage wheels. Bearings burn out and axles bend. Most but not all paddlers are using portage wheels for at least part of the trip. Depending on water levels and paddler skill and tolerance for whitewater and for upstream paddling there can be day-long portages in several locations. One solution is the wheel your boat and gear along the nearest roads. Another is to pay a local outfitter to drive you around (or to drive you to the top of a section of river such as the Androscoggin so you can paddle the section down river, and then get another ride back up…).
Off the top of my head I can think of three groups of NFCT paddlers that have pinned and wrapped canoes on the Saranac River. All three incidents occurred on the short stretch between Union Falls Dam and Clayburg. At least two of these were below Silver Lake Road. For what it’s worth, two of these were Kevlar canoes, and were each ripped in half. The third was Royalex canoe (a Penobscot), and it survived, wrinkled but paddleable. I’ve written previously about the section here
The right boat to paddle is the one you enjoy paddling for long distances and thru rocky riffles and Class II whitewater. I think there has been some tendency for young and robust twenty-somethings – paddling the NFCT on a shoestring budget – to choose 65 lb+ Royalex canoes, whatever they can beg, borrow, or find on Craigslist, and for financially viable retirees and mid-career professionals to choose lighter (and rather pricier) Kevlar boats.
I hope this helps! – Kalmia
A couple of options on the NFCT come to mind, the first being the Allagash Wilderness Waterway in Maine, from Chamberlain Lake to Allagash Village. The Allagash gives you about 90 miles of lakes and river, ample campsite options, short easy carries, and a few miles of easy Class II whitewater through Chase Rapids.
Another possibility would be to paddle the Moose River Bow trip and continue down the Moose River past Jackman, Maine to Moosehead Lake. The NFCT intersects the Bow River trip at Spencer Rips. The Bow trip is famous for being a river trip that runs in a circle (with a portage to close the loop). The Moose River below Jackman is mostly lakes and easy river travel, with a few miles of whitewater below Demo Bridge, and a new portage trail that bypasses some of that whitewater.
A final option would be to paddle the first two NFCT map sections, from Old Forge to Saranac Lake, roughly 90 miles. Camping reservations are recommended well in advance on Upper and Middle Saranac Lakes. That’s a trip that I prefer in the off season, before Memorial Day or after Labor Day, more or less.
You could also consider paddling the Missisquoi River from Mansonville PQ (or Richford, VT) down to Lake Champlain. That takes you through a northern working landscape of mountains, forests, and dairy farms, and the Missisquoi National Wildlife Refuge at the end. Happy paddling! – Kalmia
I had a report this week from two paddlers on the Saranac River who encountered a hazardous unmarked cable as they approached Plattsburg. – K
Mack – I was so glad to meet you on the Missisquoi this week! Have fun on the Nulhegan – that section below Nulhegan Pond is one of my favorites. – K
Welcome! I like the blue barrels with harnesses for my food. They are waterproof, protect softer items from being crushed, and they are pretty odor-proof, so when they are closed up they help minimize problems with smaller and larger critters in camp. I line mine with a trash bag or trash compactor bag.
I carry most of the rest of my gear in waterproof portage packs. Mine are the ‘Boundary Portage Packs’ sold by Seal Line. The other popular options are the non-waterproof ‘traditional’ designs from places like Duluth Pack, Kondos, and Granite Gear. With those, you want a waterproof liner for the pack. The waterproof bags are better if there is a whitewater component to your trip, and, oddly enough, they are cheaper than the non-waterproof ones.
On a trip last week on the NFCT in Maine I had a blue barrel (my share of a week’s food for four people), a large waterproof portage pack (clothes, sleeping bag, and etc), and a small portage bag (tent, tarp, and a few other things that might be packed away while wet).
Happy paddling! – Kalmia
Have fun, and good luck!