Energized and enlightened at the Maine Canoe Symposium

Inspired by the many hand-crafted canoes and paddles at the Maine Canoe Symposium, I came home feeling creative. Last evening, I glued, sanded, and stained my new canoe yoke.

One month…two paddling events…I could get used to this.  After enjoying the NFCT Freshet Fest so much, I had high expectations for the Maine Canoe Symposium.  From the first scrumptious meal to the last informative workshop, we enjoyed the community, stories, advice, and especially the warm welcome and encouragement from everyone at Camp Winona in Bridgton, Maine.

Meeting Gil Gilpatrick, author of our “family Bible” on the Allagash, and his wife Dot was awesome and we took a good luck picture together after hearing about his latest Allagash trip at age 80.  Dad and I also had a personal workshop (no one else had signed up) with Reinhard and Nancy Zollitsch on the most applicable topic of packing for a solo expedition.  Reinhard is a sea canoe adventurer who has done many amazing unassisted solo trips along New England and the Canadian Maritimes.

Then there was Emily Turner’s valuable workshop on planning for an extended paddling trip.  I have discovered a kindred spirit in Emily and we certainly share a love of planning with spreadsheets.  I’ve already created an Emily-inspired spreadsheet for Leg 1 (Maps 1 and 2 of the NFCT), where Dad and I will paddle through the Adirondacks from Old Forge to Saranac Lake, NY.

Emily is really the reason we discovered the Maine Canoe Symposium.  Dad met Emily last summer near Big Island on the West Branch of the Penobscot, as she came poling upriver.  They shared Dad’s steak and her fresh vegetables and we have heard a lot about her ever since.

Geoff Burke (in a traditional solo boat above) taught double-bladed paddling in the first workshop that Dad and I attended.  Who did I sit down next to but Beth Whelan, who through-paddled the NFCT last year (self-propelled) with her husband Paul?  They were kind enough to stay Sunday to peruse my maps and answer a million questions before we all headed home.  It was a nice respite from the preparations, which I resumed with vigor yesterday…making spreadsheets and granola, calling and emailing about logistics, and working on my yoke.

New friend Kathy Buhl, 2014 NFCT Through-Paddler Beth Whelan, instructor Geoff Burke, and Dad during our double-bladed paddling workshop. That’s Dad’s new Wenonah Wilderness Kevlar canoe in the background


Mom’s favorite composition from her photography workshop
Encouragement from folks like Gil and Dot Gilpatrick give me confidence for the journey ahead


6 thoughts on “Energized and enlightened at the Maine Canoe Symposium”

  1. Surrounded by like-minded trail enthusiasts could be likened to being surrounded by a cloud of witnesses – – it’s easy to see how their helpful support and wisdom gained through personal experience has fed you. And the schedule of workshops and the people present seem tailor-made for you, Laurie.


    1. You leave the best comments, Kathy…and I can’t help but congratulate you here on the blog for the birth of your adorable granddaughter Emma Rose yesterday. May God bless all of you!


  2. Sounds like fun! I’m currently double blading my Old Town Penobscot 16 from Old Forge to Plattsburgh. I’ve had a day layover at Long Lake and really needed it after a totally wet day yesterday and my first serious portages at Buttermilk Falls and its later rapids. I wish that I had a lighter boat since the paths were rock filled, narrow and extremely slippery. Make sure that you have good hiking shoes and limit the amount of items that you actually have to carry.


    1. Hi Peter…this trip will be lighter than any I have done before and I am working hard on organizing into as few dry bags as possible. Compared to my old hybrid kayak, I have eliminated having to carry the removable seat and spray skirts and reduced boat weight by about 23 pounds. I think good wool socks and thin sock liners are also critical to portaging without blisters. Hope you are having a fun and safe journey!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Great spot for the symposium–Jim used to do Vet work at Camp Winona and we knew the Orways well when they owned it.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: