I wrote a while back that I was changing the format of the Wilderness Canoe Expedition Semester, our four-week Maine canoe expedition. I’ve felt for a long time that there needed to be more of a challenge involved. This year, there will be plenty of challenge.
We’ll be making a giant (about 270 miles, give or take 50) loop, beginning and ending at the field school on the Aroostook river. The first leg will be poling 50+ miles upstream to the headwaters of the Aroostook. From there, we’ll grab a shuttle to the Allagash, then head down the Allagash and St. John before heading upstream again on the Fish river, which we’ll follow to Portage Lake. If we have enough water, we’ll carry to the Little Machias and continue down to the Aroostook, then pole upstream to the field school. If the water is low, we’ll end the trip at Portage Lake.
The dates are July 13-August 9.
This is an advanced trip not suited for beginner or intermediate canoeists, or for those with no poling experience. In order to ensure that people are prepared for this, we’re adding several prerequisites (from the WCES page):
There are three types of prerequisites for this expedition: gear, skills/experience and fitness.
Gear Prerequisites: Participants must bring a homemade canoe paddle and a homemade canoe pole to be used on the trip.
Skill/Experience Prerequisites: Participants must be comfortable poling up and down stream in class 2 whitewater, with skills to include ferries, turns, snubbing and stopping. They should also have experience paddling class 2 whitewater, lining and carrying a canoe.
Fitness Prerequisites: The trip starts with a 50+ mile upriver poling trip. This is very physically demanding and will require a significant amount of upper and lower body strength. Participants must be willing and able to physically train for this experience.
It’s a trip I’ve wanted to do for a number of years. I’m not sure it can be completed in four weeks, but we’re going to try. It’s going to be an epic summer.