Archives for category: Paddle Sports

One really nice thing about canoe camping is the amount of space you have in a canoe for carrying food supplies, including a cooler. A 70-quart cooler fits nicely in the center of an Old Town 169 Discovery Canoe which is 35” wide at the beam. Canoe camping makes it easy to plan a menu that includes fresh fruits, vegetables, meats & dairy. When planning for an extended trip (five days or longer), plan your menu for your fresh meats, fish, salad ingredients to be consumed early on, and your frozen foods for later in the trip up to seven days (seven days only if you have perfected using your cooler and know firsthand how long your ice will last). Last summer, our ‘freezer’ cooler lasted 8 days on our NE Mistissibi Canoe Trip in Quebec and that was 2 days with temperatures reaching into the middle 80s!

MEAL IDEAS FOR CANOE TRIPS

Dinners consist of locally raised rib-eye steaks, wild caught salmon, pork loin, spaghetti with homemade sauce, taco soup, chicken, rice, vegetables & dumplings. Served with dinner are fresh salads/slaws, vegetables, rice pilaf, fresh baked biscuits and baked desserts including brownies & strawberry shortcake. Breakfasts include organic coffee, assortment of regular & herbal teas & hot chocolate, rolled oats, fruit, buttermilk pancakes served with real Maine blueberries & syrup, french toast, ploys, and the traditional Maine guide breakfast of local farm fresh eggs, meat and organic potatoes. Lunches are on the fly and may include make your own wraps with assorted breads, variety of meats and cheeses, tuna, lettuce, pickles & tomatoes. Snack foods including trail mix, beef jerky, carrots, peanut butter, bars, cookies, fruit. For trips that require food beyond the life of your ice, plan on meals such as taco soup, lentil chili or spaghetti with meat sauce using dehydrated hamburger. Chicken and rice with dumplings using canned chicken and mac and cheese with canned ham. For lunch, use canned meats which may include ham, chicken, salmon and tuna along with peanut butter and jelly. For breakfast, canned meats can be served along with pancakes, hot cereal and buckwheat ployes.

Old Town canoe trip meal planning salmon cook food paddle

PACKING A COOLER FOR CANOE TRIPS

Depending on your climate and how well you maintain your coolers, it is not uncommon to plan frozen foods for up to a week. We choose inexpensive, well insulated coolers over the pricy, heavier thick-walled, bulky coolers as these don’t fit well and take up valuable space in the canoe. With larger canoe groups, use two coolers and place in separate canoes, one for your fresh foods including cheeses, cold cuts, butter, milk, eggs, cool whip and meats you’ll use up over the first three days and a second cooler as your freezer for extended trip foods including frozen meats such as steaks, fish, pork loins, bacon, sausage & burger, and liquid eggs in a carton. Use frozen gallon sized water jugs over block ice. This keeps your cooler drier as block ice makes for a mess in the bottom of the cooler as it melts. During pre-trip food preparations, be sure to remove food items from their original packaging and place is a doubled-up Ziploc bag, especially with meats to prevent juices pooling up in the bottom of your cooler. Cut out cooking directions from original packaging and include with the packed food items or use a sharpie with portions and basic directions on how to prepare and cook. Assign one person (preferably the one who planned the menu and packed the cooler) for retrieving items from the cooler so as to prevent the cooler from being opened too many times. Be organized, pack you cooler with items you will use near the start of your trip at the top and items you’ll use later in the trip near the bottom. Always be sure lids are securely shut to prevent ice from melting too quickly. You’ll be surprised how quickly ice melts when something is caught in the lid preventing the cooler from being sealed shut.

When arriving at your campsite, be sure to place cooler is a shaded location out of the direct sun. Another way to keep your ice longer, is to drape a wet white towel over your cooler. As the towel dries it creates a convection effect cooling your cooler. Re soak the towel as needed. While on whitewater canoe trips secure your cooler using a strap made of rubber, much like a large rubber band that goes around the girth of the cooler. This keeps the lid firmly shut even if the canoe and cooler end upside down in the river! To make a rubber cooler strap, secure a spent inner tube from a large farm tractor. Here in Maine, an inner tube from a logging skidder tire will work well for this. To make the strap, simply cut a cross section out about 2” wide out of the inner tube. On calmer trips, instead of an inner tube strap, we often use river straps with a cam buckle around the cooler that can be attached to your gunwale or thwart.

For trips with lengthy portages such as Webster Stream, the East Branch of the Penobscot and when taking part in shorter sections of the Northern Forest Canoe Trail, you’ll want to skip the bulky cooler and go with a soft pack with shoulder carry or back pack style straps. I just purchased 2 deluxe food packs from Cooke Custom Sewing, these durable soft packs are made for canoe camping, have nice shoulder carrying straps and are lined with closed cell foam. We’ll use these packs as produce packs for fruits and vegetables and on shorter canoe trips with long portages as a cooler. While most produce does not need refrigeration, we often place a 2-quart frozen jug a water wrapped in newspaper so as to prevent direct contact with certain fruits & vegetables which can ruin them. On shorter trips with lengthy portaging, I’ll use a smaller soft pack to include steaks, breakfast meats, meat for sauces, cold cuts & sliced cheese. It sure is nice on a guided canoe trip to use these types of foods verses canned, freeze dried or dehydrated options.

Old Town canoe trip meal planning camp stove picnic paddle portage

STORING NON-COOLER FOODS ON CANOE TRIPS

While there are many options for storing and transporting foods on canoe trips, I like to use 30-liter blue recreation barrels, not only are they water and bear proof, these smaller containers can be distributed amongst the canoes easier (verses large heavy bulky boxes), strapped or tied in with little worry about losing you food in the event a canoe upset.

COOKING FOOD ON CANOE TRIPS

Here in the Northeast, we do almost all of our cooking over an open fire. You’ll want to research your planned river trip to find out what the regulations are when it comes to open fire and cooking. For example, while the Green River Float Trip in Utah’s Ashley National Forest provides campsites that include picnic tables, benches, tent pads and a fire ring for campfires, the Grand Canyon River Trip in the Grand Canyon National Park requires bringing a stove for cooking and has strict guidelines on fires for warming and aesthetics.

BAKING DESSERTS AND BISCUITS

Reflector ovens are quite common but can be bulky to transport unless they are of the collapsible kind. We use food grade aluminum Dutch oven style rectangle baking dishes. This style nestles and stores much easier than the traditional Dutch oven pot which is also quite heavy. First, we preheat the top and bottom over the open fire and remove some coals and place them on a level area. Next, place the bottom section on the coals (no flame to prevent burning), add oil (to prevent sticking) and ingredients. Next place the lid over the top and build a twig fire on the lid. Depending on what you are cooking, biscuits often take about ten minutes while brownies 20 minutes or longer. These baked dishes can be extremely hard to find and we do have a contact in New Brunswick, Canada for these bake style dishes (contact Dave for more info).

While there are certainly many great food options for canoe camping that do not require the use of a cooler and cooking over a campfire, it sure is nice to take advantage when possible by expending your options while on a canoe camping trip.

Testimonial of a Canoe the Wild Guest

“The food was carefully prepared and was delicious! It is amazing what Tammi made for main course and Andrew taught us how to bake on an open fire. Madeline and I baked chocolate cake with chocolate frosting!” -Carrie West, Seattle Washington, 2018 Allagash Canoe Trip

Dave Conley Master Maine Guide and owner of Canoe the Wild, has been paddling the rivers of Maine and Canada since 1985. During the school year, Dave teaches an outdoor education program at East Grand High School in Danforth, ME, host to the annual East Grand Adventure Race. In the fall, guided moose hunts are offered in northern Maine. Contact Dave for More information

 

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Dave Conley Master Maine Guide and owner of Canoe the Wild, has been paddling the rivers of Maine and Canada since 1985. During the school year, Dave teaches an outdoor education program at East Grand High School in Danforth, ME, host to the annual East Grand Adventure Race. In the fall, guided moose hunts are offered in northern Maine.

MEET DAVE

I grew up in the mid coast Maine town of Boothbay Harbor with my parents, Ervin and Jane Conley, and three siblings, Tari, Jan, and Mark.  I have fond memories in the fall at the age of 11 getting up hours before sunrise to travel to Pemaquid Stream with my father to go duck hunting. We would launch our wood canvas canoe well before first light, paddle up the Pemaquid Stream, setting out decoys and wait for first light. I think it was here that I fell in love with being outdoors on the water, and I am so thankful for a father that introduced me to hunting at a young age.

As a teenager, my passion for the water continued when my father loaned me $2,500 to buy a used 14’ wooden flat-bottom lobstering skiff, new 25 HP Evinrude outboard motor, and 25 lobster traps to get started. I was able to pay him back in just two seasons. This passion of being on the water continued through my high school years, spending summers on the Sheepscot River pulling traps by hand.

During my college years I worked summers in the family business but longed for a place less crowded than the mid coast region. I found what I was looking for in northern Maine. It was here I developed and oversaw a canoe tripping program in the East Grand Lake area for a summer camp. I enjoyed 21 summers paddling the rivers of Maine and Canada in my Old Town canoe, introducing others to the great outdoors while assisting with developing outdoor living and paddling skills.

Obtaining my Maine Guide license in the early 90’s was a prerequisite to starting my Canoe The Wild guiding business. The tripping season here runs from late May to mid-September, leaving time for other ventures such as guiding moose hunts in the fall from remote camps, overseeing an outdoor education program for students at the East Grand School since the mid-90’s, and selling Christmas trees and wreaths in Central Virginia for the past 27 years.

What I’ve discovered with the guiding business is that there are plenty of people looking for the exact same feeling I experienced at a young age on Pemaquid Stream, a desire to experience the outdoors with a break from daily routines. People of all ages and experience levels take part in our guided canoe trips. Many will take part in canoe camping for the first time this summer. Trip highlights include young people (freed of electronics) flourishing on the river and around the campsite, taking in a simpler way of life such as collecting fire wood, learning to use a saw and ax, building a campfire, catching a fish, hanging around the campfire, star gazing after dark, spotting and identifying wildlife such as moose, and experiencing the song of the loons.

I see a lot of recent growth within the guiding industry for a few simple reasons. Guided trips provide people with a quality, safe, and well-organized experience. Families, private groups and individuals choose guided trips to leave the pre-trip planning, logistics, gear and meals for the guide to take care of.

Each season, we offer about 12-15 trips with 3-5 day trips being the most popular for first timers, and the more adventuresome choosing a week or longer on a whitewater canoeing trip in Quebec.(see 2018 summer schedule).

For more information about Canoe The Wild, Dave’s guiding company, visit their website for at www.canoethewild.comBe sure to check back in May for Dave’s first educational article!

https://www.oldtowncanoe.com/blog/article/canoe-tips-dave-conley

Pictures of our Six day Allagash canoe trip, June 23-28, from Churchill Lake to Allagash Village, 62 miles. Maine is a top destination for canoe trips. the Allagash is best for seeing wildlife including moose viewing. Late August is open for an Allagash Canoe Trip this year or visit Canoe the Wild 2018 schedule to do this next summer.

 

 

Bonaventure-River-Canoe-Trip-Vance

by Vance Gustin,

Deep into the wilderness of the Gaspé Peninsula of south eastern Quebec and nested in the foothills of the Chic-Choc mountains lay the crystal clear headwaters of the famed Bonaventure River. The shuttle up to the headwaters began by weaving its way up along the neighboring Cascapédia river on a paved road that seemed like the twisting back of a giant snake. As the road turned from asphalt to gravel the ride became quite a bit rougher and the canoes on the trailer bounced around with a muted thumping akin to the eager beating of our hearts. For some the journey had started in such faraway places as Wisconsin while others had made the somewhat shorter trip up from Portland Maine.

Far below the crest of the hill our tents appeared no larger than a child’s toys and the lazy wisp of smoke from the campfire was barely visible in the dying light of the sun.  Liam and I had raced up the rocky slopes of a hill adjacent to our campsite to catch the beautiful vista of the Bonaventure river valley at sunset.

“We should start heading back down before it becomes hard to see.” I said to Liam.

He quietly nodded and we began the trek down to camp. About halfway down we met Bo, Bence, Steve and Josh on their way up and I quickly snapped a group photo before encouraging them to join Liam and me on our descent. The first day on the Bonaventure had been interesting: we’d crossed both Lac Bonaventure and Petit lac Bonaventure and made our way down a narrow mountain stream to the gravel bar we now called home. Over the course of the next couple of days we’d be paddling through the maze of dry-ki (standing or fallen weather beaten timber) covered banks and shallow class one and two rapids.

Three boats were manned by father-son teams; Bo and Bob whose names I always confused usually were the first boat behind Dave who was paddling solo and the lead guide.  Bob had just retired the previous Friday and had plans for many different river trips this summer; he and Bo always seemed to have a smile on their faces as they weaved their way down between the rocks. The second father son pair was Steve and Bence who had done this river together some thirty odd years ago.  The final father son pair was Brian and Liam; Brian was introducing Liam to canoe camping for the first time and it was awesome watching them take their canoeing partnership from its fledgling stages all the way up to a fully functioning team.  The other boats in our entourage were Chris, a master of the Black Spruce pole, Josh and Tim who were very funny and warmhearted and myself. The group was a mixture of family and old friends. Most having paddled with Chewonki over the years,  a shared experience across the generations of the joys of the wilderness, a passing of the torch.

The trip down the Bonaventure River is an experience we won’t soon forget.  Early in the morning the birds start to sing their melodious sonnets and the fresh smell of spruce and fir trees mixes with the smoky smell of the fire. Soon the coffee would be ready and the warm feel of the cup in your hands was a welcome counter to the crisp cool air of the break of day. After a hearty breakfast had been served, gear was packed and loaded into the canoes.  The river itself was a translucent flow of water over a kaleidoscope of slate grey, reddish-brown and white striped gravel and rocks.  At times the water was so clear and calm it seemed as if you were floating on air. The river seemed to murmur gently encouraging the dancing canoes as they navigated the swift flowing waters. We ate lunch on gravel bars, occasionally skipping a rock or two across the river.  Tim, Bo and Bob were always on the lookout for the legendary Atlantic salmon and many a dark shadow or flash of silver was quickly investigated.  Some of the bigger class two and three rapids were scouted from shore and Dave would usually set up at their base to take pictures. The Bonaventure gorge had a couple of drops which the water level would not allow for safe passage and we promptly lined our boats along the shore.  The lower section of the river transitioned from shallow mountain stream to wide river cascading between salmon pools.  A large rapid would be followed by a deep pool and occasionally a friendly fisherman in his boat.

The second to last day on the river a thunderstorm sprung upon us from the south and we spent an hour or so huddled on shore in a stand of alders. Dave and I lit a fire to warm our companions and provide a distraction from the storm raging around us.  Tim and Brian managed to gather enough firewood to burn down a small village while Bo and Bence picked around the gravel beach looking for souvenirs.  Chris, Bob and Steve quietly conversed while huddled under their rain jackets.

“The storm’s about to let up” Tim would say in a hopeful voice during each small break in the rain.

Eventually the storm did pass but not before Tim had hopefully proclaimed our salvation a half dozen times.  The day did an about-face and the sun burst from the clouds in radiant joy.  The river cooled by the rain immediately released a thick fog about six feet high which lent an eerie feeling to our afternoon paddle down to camp.

Our last day on the river was an early morning affair with breakfast being finished before 6:15 AM.  A long drive lay ahead for all of us and we were eager to once again join the world of the twenty first century. It was a bittersweet feeling shaking hands and heading our separate ways.  However, I am sure that it won’t be long until we all once again heed the call of the river.

Vance has a B.S. in Chemical Engineering, E.I.T., and is currently a Graduate Research Associate at the Ohio State University, William G. Lowrie Department of Chemical and Biomolecular engineering.

Visit Canoe the Wild for more information on paddling the Bonaventure River, Next trip scheduled for June, 2018 

 

“Hi Dave, We are still basking in our Allagash bliss!! Thanks for a fantastic trip – it was just awesome in every way! The boys were nonstop about it in the car ride home…” Carolyn Cote

Allagash canoe trip with families from NH, NY City and Southern CA enjoying a four day trip on the Allagash River. Allagash canoe trips are well suited for those with little on no expereince with canoeing and camping in Maine. Maine Guide and Outfitter Dave Conley can guide your Allagash canoe trip and provide instruction, equipment and meals.