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Canoeing

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Kudos to Bruce at Lake Temagami’s Ojibway Family Lodge

We met Bruce at our first family-style dinner at Ojibway and instantly took a liking to his many stories about the lodge and the region. He had been coming to this exact spot since 1951 when he was a 10-year-old overnight camper from outside Detroit. Now living in Virginia Beach, he spends a little over a month each summer in his cabin on an island across from Ojibway to listen to waves lapping ashore, smell the sweet pine, watch the night sky, and explore the lake via canoe or motorboat. While Tanya and Louise are the consummate hosts who run Ojibway, Bruce is the unofficial guide. He said he’d take us on his boat to see some of this immense lake that first night and we thought he was just being friendly. But then he did just that on our last day, as we went out with him to one of his favorite spots in the northern part of the lake. We brought lunch made by the kitchen, drinks, and headed off. 

Bruce couldn’t have picked a more picturesque spot, where large slabs of rock spill off an island into a small inlet that was ideal for swimming. But before we landed, Bruce stopped, turned off the motor, and said, “this is where we stop to breathe, not say a word, and relax for the next 10 minutes or so.” And that’s what we did, listened to the wind whistle through the tall trees, and meditated. Then we went and had lunch, swam in those refreshing waters, and enjoyed a lovely afternoon. I wish every property I visited had a Bruce, someone who knows the land like the back of his hand and is genuinely passionate about sharing his joy of being there. 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 08/22/19 at 06:00 AM
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Monday, August 12, 2019

Paddle Maine’s Allagash River this September

Mention the Allagash River to a canoeist and his eyes suddenly become moist and dreamy as he inevitably responds, “Yeah, I’d like to go there someday.” The river has somehow attained legendary stature. Perhaps it’s the way the blue streak of water slips off the map of America’s northern fringes, remote and isolated, hundreds of miles from the nearest metropolis. Or maybe it’s the legacy of writer, philosopher, and inveterate traveler Henry David Thoreau, who ventured down the waterway a mere 155 years ago, waxing lyrically about the last great frontier in the East in his book, The Maine Woods. Whatever the reason, the 92-mile Allagash Wilderness Waterway continues to lure 10,000-plus paddlers to its shores every summer, turning farfetched dreams into reality. Paddle the Allagash in September like I did and you’ll be treated to moose in heat, fall foliage colors, and no bugs. Go with a trusted guide like Mahoosuc Guide Service, who led me down the West Branch of the Penobscot River for this Sierra Magazine story. They still have openings on their September 24-29 trip, $1250 per person all-inclusive. 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 08/12/19 at 06:00 AM
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Friday, January 11, 2019

Top 5 Dream Days of 2018, A Rejuvenating Stay at Gorman Chairback Lodge

My cabin at AMC's Gorman Chairback Lodge overlooked Long Pond, a serene 4-mile-long body of water surrounded by the ridges of the nearby Appalachian Trail. As soon as we plopped down our luggage, we heard the first of many loon calls, that unmistakable yodel echoing across the lake. All was bliss from this point onward. Smelling the sweet pine and peering at mountains with few, if any signs of civilization. It's no surprise that this locale in Maine's North Woods has been hosting guests since 1867. We jumped in an Old Town canoe and followed families of loons and mergansers, before spotting a bald eagle atop a dead hemlock tree. The waters of Long Pond were like glass, reflecting the surrounding mountains atop the surface. All you could hear was that mesmerizing call of the loon and there was no other traffic on the pond. No boats, no canoes, nothing. Nothing but serenity. 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 01/11/19 at 05:59 AM
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Thursday, September 21, 2017

Favorite Fall Foliage Travels—Canoeing the Allagash, Maine

In 1998, I had an assignment from Men’s Journal magazine to paddle the 92-mile Allagash Wilderness Waterway in the northern tier of Maine. It was late September, when the summer infestation of mosquitoes and black flies were gone, along with most paddlers. Instead, I found a river ablaze in fall color. An added bonus was that moose were in heat. One night while I was sleeping near the shores, several moose were going at it and I thought I was going to be trampled to death. Besides that little adventure, I had a glorious time venturing down this magical waterway. I went with classic Maine guides, Alexandra and Garrett Conover, who are semi-retired and no longer take folks down the river. Instead, go with a trusted guide like Mahoosuc Guide Service who led me down the West Branch of the Penobscot River in Maine for this Sierra Magazine story.

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 09/21/17 at 06:00 AM
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Monday, April 25, 2016

Follow John Connelly on PaddleQuest 1500

On April 16, John Connelly, the former leader of L.L. Bean’s Outdoor Discovery Schools, set out on a 1500-mile, 75-day solo paddling journey. Connelly, now president of Adventurous Joe Coffee hopes that his PaddleQuest 1500 inspires a desire for the outdoors. “I’m making this trip for anyone who’s ever stared into the night sky and yearned for a deeper connection to the world beyond ourselves,” says Connelly. Follow along as John provides video and text updates from his journey through 2 countries, 4 states, 22 streams, and 58 lakes. His paddle will take him through the majestic Fulton Chain Lakes of the Adirondacks, the entirety of the Northern Forest Canoe Trail, the Bay of Fundy, the Saint John River, and the Maine Island Trail. If this doesn’t get you excited to get outdoors this spring, nothing will. 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 04/25/16 at 06:00 AM
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Thursday, March 31, 2016

This is the Year to Finally Paddle the Allagash

Mention the Allagash River to a canoeist and his eyes suddenly become moist and dreamy as he inevitably responds, “Yeah, I'd like to go there someday.” The river has somehow attained legendary stature. Perhaps it's the way the blue streak of water slips off the map of America’s northern fringes, remote and isolated, hundreds of miles from the nearest metropolis. Or maybe it's the legacy of writer, philosopher, and inveterate traveler Henry David Thoreau, who ventured down the waterway a mere 152 years ago, waxing lyrically about the last great frontier in the East in his book, The Maine Woods. Whatever the reason, the 92-mile Allagash Wilderness Waterway continues to lure 10,000-plus paddlers to its shores every summer, turning farfetched dreams into reality.
 
2016 marks the 50th anniversary of the creation of the Allagash Wilderness Waterway by the people of Maine. So there’s no better time to experience this serene paddle. Chip Cochrane, third-generation guide, will be making his 150th descent down the river this summer with Allagash Canoe Trips. Or join another legend of the river, Gil Gilpatrick, who will be leading a Mahoosuc Guide Service trip down the river September 6-11. Expect to spot many moose slurping the shallow waters at sunrise and sunset. 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 03/31/16 at 06:00 AM
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Thursday, July 23, 2015

Maine Huts & Trails Week: Day Four, Paddling to Grand Falls Hut

Every night after dinner at all four Maine Huts, you’re encouraged to take part in the energy tour. Sustainability is an important part of the Maine Huts credo and on the tour you’ll learn that the huts are completely off the grid. Solar is the primary source of energy, providing electricity and the heating of water. Propane gas is also used as a back-up to heat the water if not enough solar energy is produced. 80 cords of wood are used each winter at the huts to supply heating for all rooms, even the floors. The composting toilets are created by Clivus and use only 3 ounces of water per flush. All of this I learned from Nate at the Grand Falls Hut on our last night of the trip. 


We started the day with an easy walk back to the Flagstaff Hut trailhead, where we met our paddling guide Matt Rolfson. A University of Maine at Farmington student, Matt grew up in these parts and knows this neck of the woods intimately. We drove to the put-in and soon started our 6-mile paddle down the Dead River. The Dead River is best known for its whitewater rafting, but that’s after the Long Falls Dam release. This section of the river is a serene paddle on quietwater, where there were far more loons than other canoers. 

2 ½ hours later, we pulled the canoe out and hiked the remaining 2 miles to the Grand Falls Hut. This stretch of trail leads to one of the highlights of the MH&T’ network, the magnificent Grand Falls, where a wide ribbon of water rushes down the rocks. On the shores below, a fly-fisherman was trying his luck hooking rainbow trout. While overhead, a bald eagle was circling the falls. The scene was so majestic I could have started waving the American flag. We walked down granite steps and were soon at our last of four huts. To commemorate the achievement, I downed a maple frosted carrot cupcake. Tasty!  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 07/23/15 at 06:00 AM
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Friday, September 12, 2014

My 5 Favorite Fall Adventures in North America, Canoeing the Boundary Waters, Ely, Minnesota

My preferred place to be in September is inside a canoe, paddling the tranquil rivers and lakes of the Boundary Waters in northern Minnesota, Wabakimi Wilderness in western Ontario, the Adirondacks in upstate New York, and the Maine woods. Those nasty mosquitoes and black flies are gone, foliage color is already starting to appear, and moose are lining the shores in heat, more talkative than Bullwinkle. So grab a paddle and find your own placid retreat. It’s no surprise that paddlers get all dreamy-eyed over Minnesota’s northern frontier, the Boundary Waters, home to a whopping 1200 miles of canoeable waters through countless lakes, rivers, and ponds. You can go days without seeing another person, replaced instead by moose, whitetail deer, black bears, beavers, otters, and those laughing loons. Wilderness Outfitters has been taking people away from civilization since 1912, offering canoe rentals and maps for self-guided trips and leading organized trips.  

 
I’ll be in Iceland next week for the annual Society of American Travel Writers convention. I’m proud to be on the board of the SATW Foundation’s Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Competition. In the past 30 years, the SATW Foundation has handed out more than 2,100 awards and over $420,000 in recognition of outstanding travel journalism. If interested in submitting stories, books, or blogs for the 2015 competition, please contact me. 
 
I’ll be back on September 22nd with updates from Iceland. In the meantime, enjoy the glorious September weather and keep active. 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 09/12/14 at 10:00 AM
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Monday, September 08, 2014

My 5 Favorite Fall Adventures in North America, Canoeing the Penobscot River, Maine

In October 2009, I had the good fortune to paddle down the West Branch of the Penobscot River following in the current of the great naturalist and philosopher, Henry David Thoreau. Our guide was Kevin Slater, a legendary Maine paddler and dogsledder who learned these rivers and how to carve his own canoes and paddles from his mentor who he simply called, “the Old Timer.” We spent four glorious days on the water, with few other paddlers, spotting moose, bear, loons, and osprey. In the backdrop was mighty Mount Katahdin, the ending point of the Appalachian Trail. The story appeared in Sierra Magazine, the publication of the Sierra Club. If you want to paddle with Slater on the Penobscot or the Allagash River, another dreamy paddle, you can contact him at Mahoosuc Guide Service

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 09/08/14 at 10:00 AM
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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Paddling an Outrigger Surrounded by a Pod of Wild Dolphins

On our last morning at the Four Seasons Hualalai, we had to be in the lobby at 7:30 am for a guided paddle on a Polynesian-style outrigger canoe. The kids weren’t thrilled to get up so early on vacation, especially since our son, Jake, had to register for classes at Cornell at 9 am EST or 3 AM Big Island time that night. So I was seriously considering blowing it off. That would have been a huge mistake!  We saw at least a dozen sea turtles feeding on the reef as we pushed off from shore. Within five minutes, heading to a sheltered bay, we spotted dolphins jumping out of the water. “They never usually come this close to shore,” said our guide, a local who seemed just as amazed as we were. He handed us snorkeling gear and the next thing you know, we were swimming next to rows of six and seven dolphins. One zipped right by my daughter, Mel, and me. When we lifted our heads, the dolphins were flying above the water, doing flips in the air. Ridiculous! Needless to say, we didn’t get much paddling in, but yes, it was worthy of getting the kids out of bed. 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 07/24/14 at 10:00 AM
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Longtime Boston Globe travel writer, Steve Jermanok, dishes out his favorite travel locales and provides topical travel information that comes across his desk.

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