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.
“You’d get lots of love,” Katina wrote, if I put my blog out there for the public to read. I’d been wavering. Posting that first post is a statement…hey world, look what crazy thing I’m going to try to do! And that funny, unbelievably varied group of people called “the public” that would become my readers. Who would they be? Was it safe to put my story out there?
Well, last time, back when I was writing my blog for Paddle for Hope in 2011, one of “the public” turned out to be Katina Daanen. I first saw her name when she donated to the Maine Children’s Cancer Program through the Paddle for Hope website. At the time, hers was just a name on a financial report, but I sure was excited to have a donor who had found us through our online presence. Later, I discovered her blog and realized that Katina was planning a through-paddle. It was fun to leave notes for her in the trail journals along the way, including one that she found on Hurricane Island in Flagstaff Lake.
Later, using her super-detailed trip notes, Katina authored The Northern Forest Canoe Trail Through-Paddler’s Companion, first published in 2014 and already updated with a 2015 second edition. Invaluable as a planning resource, this book describes the over 160 miles of upstream paddling (or portaging, praying, and persevering) from the perspective of someone going in the wrong direction. The NFCT maps and guidebook (logically) assume that most sane paddlers are going downstream.
Those going the right direction or just for a day or weekend will still learn much. Wondering how “wheelable” a portage will be? Hankering for a cheeseburger or a real bed along the trail? Then this resource is for you. And, as you’re munching or tucked up under the covers, you can discover a bit more about the crazy world of through-paddling. In the months to come, you’re sure to hear more about Katina, who continues to send me great paddling encouragement and advice!