NFCT announces 2022 Thru-Paddlers


Virtual discussion set for March 2

The Northern Forest Canoe Trail (NFCT) has announced its roster of 2022 thru-paddlers.

A total of 11 individuals — and one dog — completed the 740-mile waterway trail connecting New York, Vermont, Quebec, New Hampshire and Maine, and a family of three finished a four-year effort to paddle the entire canoe trail. The NFCT will host a virtual discussion with several of these paddlers on Thursday, March 2.

“We’re always in awe of the select few who set out to complete a thru-paddle,” said NFCT Executive Director Karrie Thomas. “It takes preparation, determination and grit to make this trek, and we know it doesn’t always go according to plan. We raise our paddles to these folks and hope others are inspired by their journeys.”

An NFCT thru-paddle involves traversing the Northern Forest by paddlecraft, downstream and upstream via flatwater, whitewater and overland, through deep wilderness and charming communities. To be recognized as an NFCT thru-paddler, individuals must complete the entire route as one expedition during a single season. They are also required to formally apply for thru-paddler status. These paddlers were added to the roster in 2022:

  • Brian Wolford, Lake Toxaway, North Carolina

  • Tom Wolford, Lake Toxaway, North Carolina

  • Nora Darcher, Belmont, North Carolina

  • Tim Fry, Belmont, North Carolina

  • Micah Fay, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

  • Benjamin Jankowski, Northampton, Massachusetts

  • Phoebe Gelbard, Northampton, Massachusetts

  • Kimberly Pierson, Bel Air, Maryland

  • Joel Ford, Parkville, Maryland

  • Ashley Hyatt, Suffield, Connecticut

  • Cole Grosner, Suffield, Connecticut

  • Bunji the Blue Dog, Suffield, Connecticut

NFCT section paddlers are those who paddle the entire trail as a series of two or more expeditions, over the course of multiple seasons. In 2022, the Harris family — Aaren, Chris and Rewan — joined the ranks.

The March 2 presentation is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Zoom. This event is free, but registration is required. To register, visit bit.ly/thrupaddlers2022. The session will feature presentations from section-paddlers Aaren, Chris and Rewan Harris and thru-paddlers Micah Fay, and Ashley Hyatt and Cole Grosner, with special guest Bunji the Blue Dog.

“This virtual gathering gives our paddling community a chance to hear from three very different types of thru-paddlers,” said NFCT Communications Director Chris Morris. “The Harris family received section-paddler recognition after spending four years completing different sections of the canoe trail. Micah, meanwhile, completed a solo thru-paddle, using his bike to complete shuttles, and Ashley and Cole finished their thru-paddle with an amazing four-legged companion — Bunji the Australian Cattle Dog. Our goal is to provide inspiration and some useful information for aspiring thru-paddlers or anyone interested in learning more about long distance paddling.”

The Harris family paddled the entire NFCT in four sections from June 2018, when Rewan had just turned 4 years old, to July 2022, when Rewan turned 8. No strangers to thru-hiking, Aaren and Chris have completed the Pacific Crest Trail and the Continental Divide Trail, but their NFCT section-paddle with a young child presented a whole new set of challenges.

Micah Fay is a one-time wilderness dweller turned urban software engineer by way of carpentry, solar installations, home energy auditing, telecommunications work and some nonprofit start-up experience. You can read about his time living off the land in British Columbia in the book Becoming Wild by Nikki Van Schyndel.

Ashley Hyatt and Cole Grosner are based in Connecticut, but spend much of their time adventuring in the woods and waters of the US. Both are experienced long distance trekkers, but their 2022 trip on the NFCT stands out because they brought along a deaf Australian Cattle Dog named Bunji.

For more information about this virtual gathering, or NFCT events, email [email protected]northernforestcanoetrail.org.

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