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long canoe trips

 
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Not sure if I am posting this question in the right place. But I've been dreaming of week-long canoe trips into wild places. Advice from anyone that has been there and done that would be welcome. We are over fifty and want to do slowly and with a few comforts. (Mainly good bedding and food! lol) I am not sold on all the modern equipment but am also do not needing to prove myself by doing everything the hard way. I believe that I am supposed to gain wisdom with age, however, in some areas, I think I am improving well, but in other areas, I am definitely stuck in a rut.

Would love both advice about the how to end, and also about the where to go>
 
pollinator
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Boundry waters canoe area and the Quetico Provential park have some of the finest canoe camping to be had.  I have done several 60-100 mile loops.
 
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If I were taking a canoe trip I would want to plan one with lots of camping spots along the way.

I would also want to be prepared for unexpected happenings with medical kits, water purifying items, etc.

This is an awesome place to canoe:




If I am not mistaken this maybe the river where it might be possible to canoe all the way to the gulf, I know there is one so check it out if you are interested.
 
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https://www.texaswatersafari.org/overview/

This is the canoe trip Anne mentioned. Quite an adventure. The San Marcos river is very beautiful too.
 
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What country/area of the country are you in?  I live in Ontario, which has fantastic canoe camping routes.

How much canoeing experience do you have? A pair who who canoes every weekend will be able to travel further in a day than a pair who hasn't picked up a paddle in a decade.

It you are planning on bringing all the comforts, look for a longer canoe to rent ((17'). Paddling an overloaded 16' canoe sucks. Also recommending shelling out the money for a kevlar canoe if you are renting and doing any portages. Carrying a 17' aluminum canoe also sucks. You can buy a pad for the yoke that makes it more comfortable to carry on your shoulders.

You will want to buy or rent a canoe pack (plasticized waterproof roll top bag with backpack harness) and a barrel pack for your food. Wet stuff is miserable.  

Chairs are nice, if you have the space and aren't portaging too far.  At minimum, a piece of foam to sit on is nice.

iMO fall is the best canoe camping season. Water is warm, bugs are mostly gone, less people.

You will likely need to tree your food or do a staked out canoe. Lighter weight (dehydrated) food is far nicer than cans.

Have fun! Canoe trips are wonderful.
 
Liza Stallsmith
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Gray Henon - Boundry waters canoe area and the Quetico Provential park added to dream list.

Anne Miller and Mike Barkley - This looks so cool, but Texas is a long, long way from me. I am going to enjoy watching it though, and will probably learn something just from watching.

Catie George - Exellent questions! You are right I should of given more information.

Water experience -  Started life together by buying a high quality raft and our honeymoon trip was a rafting trip down a river. Lots of learning happened but we survived only to return more experienced.
                                  Yrs later raft rotted and we switch to canoes. Kids came along and we jumped to two canoes. Kids grew we went to kayaks. Now the kids have left and we are returning to canoes, but
                                  still use our kayaks some. My son's German Sheppard that got left behind likes to go with me so that limits the kayaking. We been on the water, but have gotten away from water
                                  camping trips, just two complicated with schedules. It was easier to do day trips. Looking forward to revisiting canoe camping trips.


Renting - Really struggling with the prices of renting because I could put that money on equipment to use again. I am really looking for light weight canoes as I have no desire to portage our old 17'
                aluminum canoe. Does anyone have a favorite? I would love one that could be used tandem or solo.

Comforts - don't want all the comforts of home, but want a good night rest for old backs. They make some increditably light chairs now. Don't owen any yet. We have never done much of the dehydrated
                   food . Do you have any suggestions?

We had planned to do the Allagash Wilderness Waterway next yr, but after the new covid norm I have decided to change plans. They are so busy that it doesn't even sound like fun to me. We are looking into the Adirondacks, but I also just got a map of Algonguin Park canoe routes and was totally blown away with how many options there are. Not sure about planning a trip outside the US right now because of how fast boarder rules are changing, but it definitely made it to the top of my want list because it is less then 8 hrs from us.

Thanks everyone for your suggestions and ideas!
 
Liza Stallsmith
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Anne Miller - Water purifying and medical supplies are always on the list.
 
Mike Barkley
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The Boundry Waters are very cool too. Well, cold is a better description.

As far as freeze dried foods go I think Mountain House tastes best.
 
Catie George
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Liza Stallsmith wrote:

Water experience -  Started life together by buying a high quality raft and our honeymoon trip was a rafting trip down a river. Lots of learning happened but we survived only to return more experienced.
                                  Yrs later raft rotted and we switch to canoes. Kids came along and we jumped to two canoes. Kids grew we went to kayaks. Now the kids have left and we are returning to canoes, but
                                  still use our kayaks some. My son's German Sheppard that got left behind likes to go with me so that limits the kayaking. We been on the water, but have gotten away from water
                                  camping trips, just two complicated with schedules. It was easier to do day trips. Looking forward to revisiting canoe camping trips.


Renting - Really struggling with the prices of renting because I could put that money on equipment to use again. I am really looking for light weight canoes as I have no desire to portage our old 17'
                aluminum canoe. Does anyone have a favorite? I would love one that could be used tandem or solo.



Sounds like you have plenty of experience :)

Swift makes good canoes.
I personally would rent a canoe for the first trip, they are an expensive investment and the number of trips for payback compare stop renting is more than some of the other gear. See how much you love it (or don't). Used canoe prices have gone nuts here in Canada, and there is a shortage of new ones so deals aren't great there either  Canoe pack and barrel pack I would buy rather than rent (over a week long trip you almost pay the cost to buy them). Maybe you have them already. Oh, and money for good life jackets (like Salus) designed for comfortable wear while paddling. I like shoulder season canoeing, so am a big believer in buying life jackets you will actually enjoy wearing (and therefore wear).  And decent (resin tipped) paddles.  Basically, stuff you will use even if you decide tripping isn't for you anymore.

A 17' kevlar canoe can be soloed backwards, just make sure it's a symmetrical canoe hull and flat traditional style  seats. I solo a friend's 17' fairly regularly. You can add a few jugs of water as ballast at the front. Or a German Shepherd.



Comforts - don't want all the comforts of home, but want a good night rest for old backs. They make some increditably light chairs now. Don't owen any yet. We have never done much of the dehydrated
                   food . Do you have any suggestions?



Back support - YMMV but look for self inflating 3-4" thick mats. I own two (one for backpacking, one for car camping and guests). It's awesome. It's got tons of insulation and is almost as comfortable as my bed at home.  Thermarest is the classic brand (made in the US), but there are others. Heavier and bigger than the other ones, but in my opinion, worth it. Try in store if you can.

Food-  I make my own food.  You can also bring stuff like sandwich ingredients of course. For the first days, having some fresh food is nice.

This is a good website for getting started

https://www.backpackingchef.com/

I like having a dehydrator, and at $10 for a single meal from the commercial sellers, payback for a dehydrator is pretty quick!  Plus, it tastes better.



We had planned to do the Allagash Wilderness Waterway next yr, but after the new covid norm I have decided to change plans. They are so busy that it doesn't even sound like fun to me. We are looking into the Adirondacks, but I also just got a map of Algonguin Park canoe routes and was totally blown away with how many options there are. Not sure about planning a trip outside the US right now because of how fast boarder rules are changing, but it definitely made it to the top of my want list because it is less then 8 hrs from us.



Algonquin is an awesome place for a canoe trip. There are Outfitters that rent canoes and will deliver them to your site, allow you to do a one way and shuttle you, etc. The Barron Canyon is spectacular.
 
pollinator
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It’s been a few years, but when we used to travel/camp via canoe, we had an 18’ old town, and rarely carried it. Make (free if you’re a good scrounge) or buy a cart with 2 15” or so bicycle wheels and a cradle axle, that the canoe sits (strapped) on. Unless it’s a horrendous portage the wheels will roll over stumps and rocks quite well. You just ‘carry’ the front and pull it.
 
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I've done lots of canoe trips with my family. Make your first trips easy-- connected lakes and rivers without a portage. The beauty of canoe camping is that you can carry plenty of good food and comfortable/less expensive equipment because you have plenty of room. Yes, at least a 17' canoe for a week long trip.

The advice to go in the fall is wise. Avoiding bothersome bugs is high on my list, and the water has warmed all summer. Warm enough to swim in the Boundary Waters (border of Minnesota and Canada). Warm enough in Algonquin (Ontario) and Verendrye (Quebec) parks in Canada. If the border is iffy, paddling in the Adirondacks is great. Sounds like you live in the mid-South?

The most reasonably priced ultra-light canoes I've found are from Slipstream Watercraft in upstate New York. We just bought two after doing a lot of looking.

Water filters are some of the lightest and easiest systems for water purification. I like the Sawyers.

Have a great time!
 
pollinator
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Fun dreams. Sounds like you are considering mostly flatwater canoeing? I learned don’t count on catching fish after one hungry trip as a poverty stricken teenager lol. Used to be able to buy good used Grumman aluminum canoes for $100 but those days might be gone. My tolerance for bugs has evaporated so I go when the cold or wind has knocked them down. In Summer start paddling early and get off the water when the thermal winds rise. Getting stuck paddling in high wind is not fun. Have extra food in case you need to stay a few extra days in camp. I didn’t do as much safety practice as I should have but did study it enough to have survived. But I never dumped so not sure how it might have gone.
 
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Ontario- Algonquin Park ( Algonquin Outfitters can provide everything, just show up with a smile), Killarney Park plus many more parks.
British Columbia - Wells Grey and Bowren Lakes
Nova Scotia - kejimacoujic park
Do not go into the bush late May, June or Early July in Canada - bugs!
 
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https://www.paddleflorida.net

https://www.visitflorida.com/travel-ideas/articles/outdoors-nature-great-kayaking-in-florida/

https://www.floridarambler.com/kayaking-in-florida/best-kayaking-in-florida/

North Florida, where I live,  is sitting in a massive network of fresh water springs. Quite awesome.
Access to these is what motivated me to move here in the 1970s.

If you swim in the water you'll see why Ponce DeLeon thought he found the fountain of youth.

 
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Here you you if one once to venture a little bit further South like Texas

https://www.texasmonthly.com/travel/eight-great-spots-canoe-kayak-texas-fall-winter/

https://tpwd.texas.gov/fishboat/boat/paddlingtrails/


this one takes place here in Texas every June https://texashillcountry.com/canoe-race-texas-water-safari/
 
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We stick to Class I/II rivers and sometimes a lake.
Love Boundary Waters Canoe Area.
In winter, consider the Suwannee River in Florida. It's not wilderness, but it floods, so houses are required to be way high off the river and you don't see them much. Put in just south of the park, take it to the Gulf. There are some established campgrounds now, accessible only by river. We used to camp on the white sand beaches the river makes as it meanders. Don't know if they still let you.  Mind the alligators and rise of river level if it rains.
In Kentucky, consider the Green River, especially going through the Mammoth Cave Park. Camping on the river through the park just requires picking up a back country pass from the Rangers (good idea anyway, as they would know what current river conditions are). Water level is dependent on release of water from the dam. Outfitters would also know what flow makes for a good experience.
Yes to water purifiers, something to sit on, dry bags for everything, clear dry bag for phone so you can take pictures without taking it out of the bag, giving yourself extra provisions and time for if you need a rest day or don't like paddling in the rain.
Dale Hollow Lake, in eastern Kentucky, has boat in only reservable campsites, if you want to paddle in, set up camp, and do day trips on the lake out of that camp. Good for a shake-out cruise.
The advantage of an outfitter is that they know the river, know the put-ins, and can do the shuttle.
Love our old 17' grumman for carrying stuff, but not for portage. The longer the boat the faster the boat, so if you're in a tandem paddling with friends in solos, take your time.  Love our two solo canoes for me not hearing "take your paddle out of the water, I've got this" from the husband in the stern.
We've been exploring using hammocks for sleeping instead of being on the ground. Easier on the back and less weight. Depends on having trees, of course.
Have been watching canoe videos on the You Tube for scouting rivers to put on the list. Also google "blue water trail" and www.americanwhitewater.org for river info.

 
pollinator
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I don't have specific experience of long canoe trips, but I recently upgraded my camping/hiking kit to include a lightweight hammock. On a recent two night trip I had my most comfortable camping sleeps in years. Better than camp beds or expensive inflatable mattresses. I highly recommend it.
 
Dave Bross
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Second what Joan said...the Suwanee is a good one.
 
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Hi,  If I havn't been on the waters for a while then I would look at it as I am a newbie with youtube skils.  Start out with one and two day trips to get muscles used to the new exercise. Go slow and concentrate on how I am paddling to gain muscle memory. Now I have the best technique to get me through the water with the least amount of energy. Any flatwater river will be nice. Later after a few trips I would branch out to longer ones, maybe 3-4 days, still considering myself a newbie and not going tooo far from the city and help if an emergency happens. A couple of those and then I'm off for a few week long trips.

My first trip I carried too much gear, my second too little.  My third I had learned to look at the river and plan for it. Difficulty, traveling distance to camping sites, all pre planning makes for a better trip.  

I carry "Built Bars" for protien bars. "Auguson Farms" organic, whole food to make mels, or prepared meales.

Have fun on the water.
 
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I have done two week trips in the boundary waters .... a number of them.  The Boundary Waters is excellent for both canoe and hiking.
 
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Boweren Lakes trip?
 
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Great thread. You are getting a great list of bucket list canoeing trip places. I agree with those who suggested going on easier trips to get back into it.  Not just easier rapids, shorter trips, trips that are closer to you and shorter portages too.  Also, since you're older, you may want to upgrade some creature comforts, and you may be able to afford to do so.  

We love to bring dogs while canoeing but our dogs have been smaller.  I would ramp up from a few days to eventually get up to a week. You also stand a better chance of avoiding a severe weather event on a small trip.  Bring a camera, and take your time. Decide if fishing is going to fit in with each trip.  YOu are going to love it!

John S
PDX OR
 
Liza Stallsmith
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All I can say is Wow! What a ton of information and ideas. Thanks, everyone!

I hope to really talk to some of our children over the holidays to find out where they are interested in going and the when part of this trip. lol A few of them have expressed interest in going with us.

Been there done that, thinking there would be enough fish caught. lol We were catching and eating crayfish. lol

Yes, to I now have more money to buy better equipment, but I still want to be practical.

One of my biggest struggles now is I know we need a new canoe, but which one. I want one to do it all and I am not sure that is possible. I want something light enough in weight that I can use it as I age. I like the idea of a tandem because it is fun and encouraging to work as a team and feel the other paddler's power. However, most of the time it is just me and the dog. I also like the idea of having room to introduce others to canoeing. But I have learned to really enjoy being able to go my own speed and explore in my kayak. I am with a group, but not at the same time.

Since there are no easy answers to this canoe question, I am going about slowly putting our gear together. Once I am satisfied with it I will have a better idea on the size of ride I need. I can't believe I am saying this, but I am leaning towards renting canoes different places this summer to help me get a feel for what I want to buy.

Again, you guys gave me some of everything to check out , places to go, gear, canoes, food sources, and on it goes. A BIG thank you! I will be referring back to this thread often as I move forward on this dream.

 
Liza Stallsmith
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Oh, I have to add that I've said to my family I wish I could deflate my dog to half her size while she was in my canoe, and then inflate her back  to normal size when we got to land again. I would love to take her with us. She loves to go, but it just might not work out to be the best decision. Time will tell.

We live five miles from a lake so I do find myself on the water often and will use whatever canoe I get more often at home than on a trip.
 
Arthur Angaran
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Hi,  Choosing the right equipment can be important when on the water.  A lake canoe may be a different shape than a tight river canoe, or a racing canoe. I used to canoe alone on rivers, but had a hard time on lakes because of the sail effect. My kevlar canoe was a dream, little noise in the water and easily manuverable. On lakes though the wind had to be faught so as not to be dumped, so mainly I paddled close to shore.
 
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