The best canoe trip for me.

-- Last Updated: Apr-27-08 5:19 PM EST --

Just trying to make sure I pick the best canoe trip for this summer. You guys are more familiar with america's lakes and rivers than I am. I have been leaning towards the mississippi, but really don't like polluted water. Not muddy water, silty water, green water, red water, that's fine, but polluted. It's just not as fun when you can't cool off in it, and when you are trying to see how great America is, and you have a rash on your body because you've been sitting in filth for 2 months. Here's what I would like:

2- 3 months.

beginning paddler with medium dog.

want to camp in remote locations.

fine with either going through wilderness the whole time, or getting to see and explore waterfront towns.

prefer it to be hot to being cold.

want water clean enough to swim in, and not have to wash off afterwards.

don't want it to be overwhelmed with powerboaters.

safe from crazy people.

for emample, so far both the BWCA and mississippi sound best, but the miss is gross apparently and isn't bwca best for shorter trips? may be wrong. I like how the jack's fork river looks in missouri, may be too crowded but that kind of river looks good. Of course that one is too short.

Sounds like an ambitious trip.
As a beginner paddler, how prudent is it to go for a couple of months “in the wilderness”?

There are all kinds of rivers in
Canada that can fulfill that dream and all are beyond the scope of a beginning paddler.

Food resupplies, emergency bail out points repairing your boat in the field, repairing you in the field beyond medical care and obtaining vet care for your dog, dealing with dog versus wildlife interactions etc are all issues and by no means all you will have to deal with.

Most beginning canoeists start with four or five days. The psychology of travelling solo can disrail you.

Then work up.

There is little in the way of US wilderness paddling for that length.

Frankly I think you have not thought this out very well.

I do have friends of mine that crossed the US by canoe and it took years of planning.

The Northern Forest Canoe Trail stretches 740 miles from Old Forge NY to Fort Kent Maine. It is wilderness for most of its miles and is not so remote you need to carry your food for the whole trip.

A person starting out as a beginner in Old Forge will be an intermediate paddler by the time they reach Fort Kent.There may be crowds in the beginning, but towns will also be nearby for resupply till you work out your food and gear needs.


Second the NFCT
But if you plan on doing it start to finish with decent water levels along its length, the time to start the trip is now. You can’t plan a trip that long in a short time. And, as Kayamedic inferred, your chances a safe and enjoyable trip for both you and the pooch improve dramatically with proper planning…finding your routes, being sure you know the hazards, being prepared (in this case) for long portages, planning for resupply in the towns along the way, etc. etc.

Check out their website at


What are you paddling?

Are you paddling a canoe or kayak? Is it an expedition or recreational vessel? I’m no expert at wilderness paddling, but your quest for an adventure can be fulfilled and it’s quite enjoyable planning something like this, but it does seem like you’re biting off more than you should for a beginner. That said, how about a trip down the Kaw River in KS (about 150 miles)and then continue down the Missouri River from Kansas City to St. Louis? There are lots of sandbars to camp on, small river towns to resupply at, and I suspect you’ll have quite an adventure. Can’t speak to the water quality, it’s a potential deal breaker for most bodies of water if you look for reasons not to paddle. Good luck and keep us posted to your adventure!


Third the NFCT
Although I have never done it and what little knowledge I have is from reading and presentations. Still, it seems to fit your needs of having readily available “ditch” and re-suply points.

I frequesnt the BWCA and you certainly can make a 2 month trip within it. However, resupply will be an issue unless you exit and get a new permit to re-enter. Also none of the entry/exit points are close to a town for re-supply. There are outfitters at a few entry/exit points that you could work with for re-supply. A few outfitters also have a store, though very much more oriented toward convience and souvenirs than re-supply.

Lastly, since you are taking a dog. Is this a small dog or is there some size to him? The reason I ask is because of the type of canoe you need to consider. With a small dog you can probably get away with a true solo canoe, though it should probably be a larger touring/tripping type because of the length of your trip. If it is a larger dog you may want to consider a “cross-over” canoe, a small tandem that can be soloed. A larger dog is more like another person than baggage. Something like a Souris River Quetico 16 Solo would work, Bell Morning Star, Mad River Malecite, Nova Craft Bob Special, and others.

Good luck.

is a possible choice, there are maps. There are also some long portages and I wonder what the boat is going to be.

Curiously only a few people have been able to do it all the way. I think the record is 55 days. Wasnt done by a beginner but someone who had experience of actually setting up the trail. Twasnt Kay Henry though.

dog is half corgi/half australian shepherd, 35 pounds with stubby legs.

the northern forest sounds perfect in many ways actually. It goes through New England, the only part of the country besides Alaska I haven’t been to. It has plenty of wilderness and also some small towns. I read about that and it said it was hard, that you had to be a good paddler and there were class IV rapids and it would test all your paddling skills.

Anyone done it or heard it’s not that bad?

You can go to the NFCT website and poke around a bit. Somewhere they have links to blogs written by thru paddlers, They are very informative and entertaining.

From what I have read and experienced you can portage around many if not all of the really bad sections.

NFCT mini guide
Here, on there is a mini guide for the NFCT. It’s located in the Places2Paddle section.

The NFCT website also has a few paddler blogs, which are interesting, too.

here’s a blog

The Mississippi
A long trip like you plan would be fantastic on the Mississippi. The pollutants are almost 100% run-off type; nutrients, etc. I paddle it whenever I can, camp out on remote sandbars, explore the swamps and backwater… and I swim in it and have never gotten a rash. Fish and animals don’t live in filth and the river is teeming with life, at least along the west border of the State of Mississipp. It is an experience worth having. An expert on paddling the Mississippi is John Ruskey; take a look at his website and chat with him. I’m sure he can give you some advice.

If you’ve got the time,i’d give it some thought.My son and I have done the New York section, it took us nine days.There is some rough sections between Saranac Lake and PLattsburgh and can get bonney mid summer.As far as clean waters,you’ll have it there.Hopefully i’ll be continueing this adventure as well.

100% Nutrients…
100% nutrients?

Don’t be naive.

Raw sewage, mine tailing, industrial waste, & heavy metals discharged into the Mississippi River are not nutrients.

Go to yahoo, or any similiar search engine.

Type in:

“direct discharge of sewage in Mississippi River”, or “heavy metals dumped in Mississippi River”, or “mine tailings dumped in Mississippi River”, or “industrial waste dumped in Mississippi River”.

You will get hundreds of thousands of hits discussing some of what goes into the Mississippi River “besides” nutrients.

Certainly enough reading material to keep you busy for the rest of your life.


I live pretty far upstream (La Crosse, WI) and still the beaches on the river are closed several times during the summer because of “fecal contamination”. I can’t imagine what it is like further downstream.

Also I know a guy that swam the length of the Mississippi. He had to skip large sections and then come back and swim them after Dow (or Dupont or someone like that) finished making him a special suit to protect him from the chemical pollution.

Certainly there are fish consumption warnings.

Any water we drink we bring with us. I wouldn’t trust a filter or a purifier because of the chemicals.

National Academy of Sciences
2007, Mississippi River Water Quality and the Clean Water Act

Be sure to read on page 2 the part about how the two primary water quality issues as related to the entire river are nutrients and sediments.

You sound…

– Last Updated: May-01-08 9:07 PM EST –

You sound like an apologist for the EPA; who writes volumes & speaks ad infinitum, while ignoring, or slapping the wrists of the major polluters.

Toxic Gumbo: Cancer causing waste dumped in Louisiana.
A 100 mile stretch of land along the Mississippi River between Baton Rouge & just south of New Orleans is know as Cancer Alley, Louisiana. The region houses 7 oil refineries and heavy-industrial plants. The produce staggering amounts of waste, much of which they spew into the water. Not surprisingly, the industries maintain close ties to government. Ex-governor Mike Foster owns prime oil & gas land & earned over $200,000.00 annually from Exxon, Quintaine, and Meridain Oil.Foster limited the requirements for environmental assessments, and reduced penalties for industry non-compliance. Refineries & petrochemical plants whose waste was labeled hazardous had the option of appeal to the Dept. of Environmental Quality to have their waste "de-listed". 100 appealed/100 approved.

Threats to the Environment

The major sources of pollution in the Mississippi river are:

Industries...industrial waste, chemicals, heavy metals
Farmers......pesticides, fertilizers & animal waste
Cities: sewage

Today many citizens cynically refer to the Mississippi as "cancer corridor", or "chemical alley". The area near the mouth of the Mississippi is referred to as the "dead zone".

There are 100s of landfills along the Mississippi, over 60 toxic waste injection wells, and 100s of more forgotten dumps & landfills(some of them clandestine).

There are over 500 plus industries that discharge waste directly into the river, over 600 municipal waste water treatment plants, scores of chemical manufactureres, and power plants, dozens of pulp & paper mill, and countless other sources of pollution.

They are not putting out nutrients!

Pollution is ultimately encouraged as a result of the government's cozy relationship with large polluters. This position is supported when one investigates current laws that have minimal effect on stopping pollution. Part of the explanation for the lack of intervention is that the government finds it difficult to oppose activities that are profit generating. Making profit is an important cultural goal. Businesses choose to pursue short term gain without considering long term consequences. This is one of the characteristics of capitalists.

You won't see the CEOs of Dow Chemical, Exxon, etc canoeing or kayaking on the Mississippi.
They "know" what's in it; so do the state & federal government officials. It is in their best interest to down play the issue of pollution, give the "proles" a little "we're concerned" song & dance, and then keep the money flowing into their pockets and those of the polluters. Doing it clean is a big hassle & cost big bucks; that's why so much of it is dumped in the's easy to do, & it's doesn't cut into profits.

What problem?
100 appeals/100 approvals........
Go ahead & dump it!

702 million pounds of toxics were dumped into the Mississippi from 1990-1994. That amount at that time, was 2 times the amount of pollution found in "all other water" in the United States combined.

An example of the EPAs, and the U.S. Attorney Generals song & dance routine from l998:

AG Janet Reno & EPA Administrator Carol Browner announced that Shell Oil Co. had violated national pollution laws. They also announced that a complaint had been filed against Clark Refining of St. Louis, Mo. These cases addressed violations which included illegal dumping from barges, illegal filling of wetlands, spills of oil & "other"? hazardous materials, sewer overflows, and discharge of chemicals such as "cyanide, heavy metals, and hydroflouric acid" into the Mississippi River or it tributaries. The cost to the 54 criminal defendants: 10 million in fines, and a total of 8 years in prison terms.

Reno quote:
To those who think that they can get away with illegally polluting out river, we say this: we will work at all levels of government to find you, prosecute you and make you clean up the mess you've made. You could even go to jail.

Let's see how tough they really are? 8 years in prison sentences handed down, there are 96 months in 8 years, and there were 54 defendants.
Divide 54 defendants into 96 months & the avg. prison term would be what? With time off for good behavior......maybe 2 weeks. How many of those defendants served even one day, after appeals were filed, plea bargains made, &/or probation deals were made? How many were even placed on probation? What a FARCE!

But WOW! 10 million in fines!
You really showed em Reno!
Way to go EPA!
I mean 10 million dollars......
That had to hurt.

Fast forward:

Shell oil made approx. 318 billion dollars in 2006. In 2007,it was ranked as the 3rd largest corporation in the world.
Even in 1998, 10 million was "chump change" to Shell.
What a FARCE!

Janet should have rolled over their asses with tanks, shot em, gassed em & set em on the "bad guys" in Waco.

Nah! Shell are the "good guys"; slap their wrist.


It doesn’t sound like a good place to paddle. The first time I learned that cities could dump raw sewage into the water was when, here in Honolulu, they dumped 48 million gallons of raw sewage into the Ala Wai Canal that flowed into Waikiki. It blew my mind. I didn’t want to paddle through it then, and I don’t now. And the poster above me is right, they won’t penalize those who break what small protections they have.

I do want to see some towns as well as wilderness, so I am leaning toward the NFCT. It sounds ideal, as long as it’s not too hard, too quickly. I"m going over the route now. It seems beuatiful. And as so much of our history is from the Mississippi states, as much is from New England. It has influenced my life in so many small ways, it would be nice to finally see it. And what a way to really see it.

The Mississippi
There is truly some beautiful scenery on the Mississippi River. There are some great people who live on, or near the Mississippi River.

I lived near it for many years, and have read much about of it’s history.

In my younger years I enjoyed a lengthy canoe trip on the Mississippi.

I do not suggest that anyone dismiss the possibility of a trip on the Mississippi.

It would be a great trip.

What I suggest is that people be aware of the possible hazards,(pollution & otherwise), use common sense, and good decision making skills.

I would not bathe, swim, or use water from the Mississippi River for cooking clean up, or drinking water. None of that would be necessary with a little planning.

What others do is their decision, but the suggestion that Mississippi River water is not polluted, is naive at best.