From the NFCT Through-Paddlers Companion, written by Katina Daanen, I discovered that there are several sections of the trail where it is not safe to drink even filtered water. This requires a different mindset from the paddling that I am used to in Maine. Water will need to come from campgrounds, restaurants, trail angels, or one of the many stores along the way. (My longtime water filter that I will use for most of the trail is a Katadyn Hiker Pro weighing 13 oz.).
The primary cause of contamination is agricultural runoff from the picturesque farms in the river valleys, followed by industrial waste and plain old trash, like tires. This concern exists on sections of the Saranac (Clayburg to Plattsburgh), Mississquoi (all of it), Clyde (Newport to Derby Center) and Connecticut Rivers, the last not mentioned in the current edition of the book.
Katina’s book also describes the range of health hazards associated with this bacterial pollution from agriculture. The dangers extend beyond those associated with drinking the water, to infection from cuts and even leech bites! Let’s just say I am thankful for the friendly people and stores along the way.