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NFCT guidebook provides useful background

April 7, 2010
By MIKE LYNCH, News Outdoors Writer




    SARANAC LAKE — A new guidebook for the 740-mile Northern Forest Canoe Trail has arrived in time for paddling season.


    The NFCT guidebook was released in March by the nonprofit of the same name, which serves to promote the canoe and kayak route that starts in the Adirondack Park and ends in Maine. It also travels through Vermont, a small part of Quebec and New Hampshire.


    The NFCT follows Native American paddling routes over lakes, ponds, rivers, streams and portage trails. The Raquette River, Lake Champlain, Missisquoi River, Connecticut River, Androscoggin River, Rangeley Lakes and the St. John River are destinations along the NFCT.


    The 320-page book is broken up into five main sections by geographic location and contains information from seven paddler-writers who each explored a section of the route.


    The New York chapters are broken into three subsections:


    ¯ Fulton Chain of Lakes to Long Lake


    ¯ Long Lake to Saranac River


    ¯ Saranac River to Lake Champlain


    John Thompson wrote the New York sections, which are of prime interest to Adirondackers. According to his biography in the beginning of the book, Thompson has led canoe trips in 11 states and taught flatwater, whitewater and efficient paddling classes. He has completed the Adirondack Canoe Classic, which follows the first 90 miles of the NFCT, 18 times.


    In his descriptions of this region, Thompson writes about the historic towns, guides and waterways.    


    “The NFCT from Old Forge to Saranac Lake follows what is probably the oldest Native American water trail through the Adirondacks as well as the shortest and most direct west-to-east paddling route,” writes Thompson. “In 1846, the Saranac River became an official public highway — for logs. With 200,000 logs sluiced down it per year, it was one of the great drive rivers of the East, with busy pulp mills located between Cadyville and Kent Falls.”


    For those looking for navigation information, the book provides the basic essentials a paddler needs to know before a trip both in the narrative and in breakout boxes.


    The boxes provide information such as how long the trip will take and where put-ins and portages are located, along with what hazards paddlers should be aware of before leaving on the trip.


    Inside the main narratives, the authors referred to NFCT maps that must be purchased separately and were released previously. If one were to embark on a trip up the NFCT, these maps would be essential (as they would on any paddling, hiking or other type of backcountry excursion).


    What this guidebook does is provide background and perspective on the NFCT and provides paddlers with much of the information one would need to know before exploring one of its sections.


    The guidebook can be purchased from the NFCT Web site at www.northernforestcanoetrail.org and at specialty outdoor retailers, outfitters along the trail and booksellers.

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