paddletothesea might have read already. Written by river tripper Vince Welch, it describes the life and long river exploits or Amos Burg on rivers of the West starting back around 1920. Burg took some early trips in 17 foot wood canvas canoes, the length of rivers like the Columbia and Snake, that made me wonder how he lived so long. But he seemed to build on judgement and experience very quickly, so that later in his career he was an expert.
The book is available from "The Mountaineers Books".