Posted 08.01.06

NEWPORT, VT | Billy dePersis ( above, left ) and Bill Yarosh of Windsor, New York. portage their 17-ft aluminum canoe along the hilly Route 100 outside of town here on their way to the Clyde River.

Their destination -- Fort Kent, Maine, some 740 miles from where they started 147 miles ago in Old Forge, New York.

On Saturday, July 29, they had been portaging for thirty miles and expected to camp over Prouty Campground on Lake Memphremagog here before taking off Sunday morning on the long leg of their paddling/portaging trip to Maine.

The trip is along the newly opened Northern Forest Canoe Trail that features more paddling than walking. The lads seemed a bit weary when I met them but enjoyed themselves as they waved to passing motorists and stopped to have their pictures taken with some young female admirers.

The Northern Forest Canoe Trail links the watersheds of northern New York, Vermont, Quebec, New Hampshire, and Maine, and is a unique thread tying together the Northern Forest Region.

The 740-mile trail traces historic Native American travel routes through the rivers of this region, and is a living reminder of our history, in which rivers were both highways and routes of communication. Flowing with the stories of Native Americans, European settlers, and the development of mill towns and the timber industry, the Trail's rich heritage is hoped by supporters to become the basis of widely accessible, environmentally friendly tourism in many of the small communities along the route.

Paddling the entire NFCT takes about eight weeks and requires all the skills a canoeist can muster. Flatwater, whitewater, portaging, poling, both upriver and down, the traveler will need to handle it all. However, according to the Northern Forest Canoe Trail Association, there are many sections of the trail suitable for shorter, less-demanding trips.

Copyright © 2006 Gordon Alexander/Log Cabin Chronicles/08.06