The Northern Forest Canoe Trail is 740-mile paddling trail connecting watersheds across the Adirondacks and northern New England that traverses across New York, Vermont, Quebec, New Hampshire and Maine. These are historical waterways that were used by Natives and European settlers to hunt, spread culture, trade, and battle. These waters flow right through the Northern Forest, which is the largest stretch of unbroken ecosystems east of the Mississippi River and a connection of the temperate forests of the south and the boreal forests of the north. This trail allows you to access it in a way that would be impossible by any other modes of transportation enabling you to experience a rich history and ecology that is unmatched in other parts of the world.
In 2012, I hiked the entirety of the Appalachian Trail. After hiking 2,000 miles from Georgia to Maine, I remember standing on Mt. Katahdin, the last stop on my journey and looking up seeing nothing but water. At that moment I knew I needed more. More travel. More filming. More adventure.
For me, paddling this trail will be a personal note. I recall looking at Flagstaff Lake, a part of Section 9 of The Northern Forest Canoe Trail, dreaming of one day paddling it. With my background in film, I wish to portray the history and the legwork that went into the establishment of the trail. I want to do this in a way that will not only encourage people to get outside but also realize that there is beauty in these situations and strength within the outdoors.
Five years later, this is my reality. I am set in mid June armed with my camera to finally start the trail. It is important for this trip and film not to just be about my own self-discovery, but for it to have a purpose, a real purpose and many purposes. And luckily I will not be doing this alone.
My travel partner and best friend, Bradley Tallent, who I have hiked over 6,000 miles and paddled over 7,000 miles with, will join me. His purpose will be to create a video guide series of the trail that will correspond to the 13 official maps of the NFCT. The video guide series will provide a video representation of what paddlers should expect in each section.
His wife, Megan Tallent, who is an educator and is nervous about how increased use of technology is making the outdoors less appealing to children, will also join us. To combat this, she will be working on presentations that will help parents instill a love for nature into their child’s life.
We also will have an aquatic ecologist with us, Mallory Hirschler, who just happens to be Megan’s sister and my life partner. Clean water is essential to the integrity of paddling trails and she will show this by performing water quality assessments that will be done on the 78 waterways that makes up the trail.
Lastly, but certainly not least, we will have Breg, Megan and Brad’s one year old dog who will make paddling the rapids of the trail quite interesting.
So that’s the gang, two filmmakers, an educator, a scientist, plus a wacky dog. Although we are a diverse mix, we all share a passion for paddling. Our passion has lead us to share the same purpose: to protect our majestic waterways that we so dearly love. Whether it is through cinematography, outreach, or data collection, we hope to spark the same drive we all share for the water into others. However, this will not be an easy task, as we will face class IV rapids, extreme weather, and 62 portages totaling 55 miles on a span of 740 miles. Luckily, having much outdoor experience, our group is able to excel even in the most uncomfortable conditions. All of us feel at home on the water and desperately we want make others see water not as a threat but rather an inviting place to be apart of.
Learn more and follow the adventure at Adventureitus Productions