First Paddlers of the Season Reach Maine from Old Forge

Waitsfield, VT – On Sunday, May 22 the husband and wife team of Arden and Sherry Olson of Cumming, Georgia completed a 740 mile canoe journey, capping a speedy adventure that took more than three weeks.

The Olson’s set off from Old Forge, N.Y. on April 29 with their sights set on the St. John River in Fort Kent, Maine. Their journey, across four states and into Canada, was a dream for the couple who were retracing historic native paddling routes that comprise the Northern Forest Canoe Trail (NFCT). They paddled through record flood waters on Lake Champlain between New York and Vermont, and counted more days of rain than sun. But as “Team Black Cat”, the trail moniker that the couple adopted, posted on their blog when they arrived at the NFCT endpoint in Ft. Kent: “Life is so good….I don’t think we have laughed this much in years.” (See Team Black Cat’s 2011 Appalachian Trail Journal.) The husband and wife team spent 24 days on the trail, with 20 of those days paddling when conditions allowed.

Steve Doxzon of Adirondack Lakes & Trails Outfitters in Saranac Lake helped get the Olson’s on their way. “I had the honor of helping them shuttle to Old Forge to begin their trip”, said Steve. “Really great folks. Three days later they were seen carrying there canoe through Saranac Lake looking for a put in with the incredibly high water levels we had. What an inspiration they are!”

At the other end of the Trail, the Olson’s were met by Carl Pelletier, owner of the Northern Door Inn in Fort Kent, Maine. Carl has welcomed some 30 “through paddlers” (individuals who have completed the entire 740 mile journey in one trip) since the first official through paddlers floated into Fort Kent in 2006. In the Olson’s case, he ended up with more than just inspiration from their tales of adventure – he is now the proud owner of their slightly damaged canoe. Said Carl of the boat, “The old gal has a bright future.” (See Canoeing from A to Z.)

The Northern Forest Canoe Trail follows historic native paddling routes on the rivers and lakes of northern New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, and the province of Québec. The Trail celebrated its tenth anniversary in 2010 and is the longest inland water trail in the United States. The Trail serves as an inspiration for those with a passion for canoeing and kayaking and catalyzes rural economic growth by developing nature and heritage tourism opportunities in partnership with local small businesses. Most paddlers approach the trail in sections, enjoying the wildlife viewing, fishing, hiking, and community events that can be enjoyed in the various rural destinations along the NFCT route. NFCT’s 13-map series, Guidebook, and online Trip Planner support paddlers of all abilities to craft a journey that fits their interests.

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