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.