NFCT paddling festival coming to northern Adirondacks

NFCT Paddlers Freshet Fest 2016The second annual Paddlers Freshet Fest will take place June 10–11 in Saranac Lake, N.Y. 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. Clinics and guided trips are suitable for beginner paddlers and are family-friendly.

The event starts Friday night with a slideshow presentation at Mount Pisgah ski lodge about the 2015 thru-paddle by northern Adirondack residents Jim Sausville, Mike Peabody, Nick Gowans, and Chris Burnham.

Saturday will begin with morning paddling clinics at Lake Colby, followed by afternoon guided trips on the Northern Forest Canoe Trail. The day will conclude with a gathering at the Mount Pisgah ski lodge, where there will be a paddlers’ panel discussion, dinner, and slideshow presentation, “Paddling North American Waters” by Jack Drury and Doug Fitzgerald.

Drury founded the Wilderness Recreation Leadership Program at North Country Community College in Saranac Lake and is past president of the Wilderness Education Association. He currently directs the Adirondack Community-based Trails and Lodging System and is co-owner of Broadwing Adventures with Fitzgerald.

Fitzgerald has paddled in many parts of North America from the Rio Grande to the arctic. He lives with his family in the Adirondacks and is retired from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

The paddlers panel consists of Yukon 1,000 paddler Paul Repak; Northern Forest Canoe Trail thru-paddler Cathy Mumford, section-paddler Russ Ford, and executive director Karrie Thomas; and canoeist Will Madison, the great-great-great grandson of local Adirondack legend Nessmuk.

Founded in 2000 and officially opened in 2006, the 740-mile Northern Forest Canoe Trail consists of a series of connected rivers, lakes, and portages that stretch from Old Forge, N.Y. to Fort Kent, Maine. The trail follows traditional travel routes used by Native Americans, early settlers and guides. In New York, the NFCT follows the 90-Miler route from Old Forge to Saranac Lake, before heading down the Saranac River to Lake Champlain.

Partners in the Paddlers Freshet Fest include the Adirondack Mountain Club, American Canoe Association, Adirondack Lakes & Trails Outfitters, Broadwing Adventures, Mike Lynch Photography, Placid Boatworks, Raquette River Outfitters, St. Regis Canoe Outfitters and The Wild Center.

Space is limited for clinics and guided trips. Register for one event or the entire day at by May 25 to get early-bird rates and ensure a spot.


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