What a Trip!

     Wow. It always amazes me when people paddle such great distances. How awesome would it be to be able to spend 16 days in the Boundary Waters?  He didn’t do the entire trip in the same year, but it’s still a great accomplishment.

Cross-country paddler completes 4,300-mile trip

PORTLAND, Maine — An extreme paddler who launched a cross-country canoe trip in Portland, Ore., traveled 3,500 miles through rivers, lakes and other waterways before arriving Friday in Portland, Maine.

Alexander Martin said he also carried his 30-pound Kevlar canoe around 800 miles over land to cover parts of the country that aren’t connected by water. The 24-year-old from Kensington, Conn., completed the trip in three segments adding up to six months and said he encountered only four other paddlers during his coast-to-coast journey because he was paddling in the offseason.

"The Boundary Waters canoe area in northern Minnesota is the most popular canoeing place on Earth, and I paddled it for 16 days and didn’t see another person," he said.

Martin and a friend already hold the record for completing the 740-mile Northern Forest Canoe Trail from Old Forge, N.Y., to Fort Kent, Maine, having done it in 32 days.

Attempting to paddle a canoe across the country is uncommon. Martin said he’s aware of only one or two others who have had similar success in doing so. But there are no comprehensive records for cross-country paddles, said Chris Stec of the American Canoe Association in Fredericksburg, Va.

Martin, a Bates College graduate, said he had intended to complete the entire trip in a six-month stretch but ended up doing it in segments. He ran out of money at one point and had to return to work at the National Outdoor Leadership School before completing the final leg.

Powered by paddle and pedal, Martin achieved his goal of a human-powered journey, either paddling in his canoe or using a bicycle to pull his canoe from one waterway to the next.

Martin endured heavy rain on his last night on an island in the Presumspcot River. But the clearing skies created a postcard perfect scene as he arrived at Portland’s East End Beach, where family members awaited with balloons and an Allagash beer, which he’d requested.

The first leg of the trip, starting in April 2009, took Martin from Portland, Ore., to Jackson Hole, Wyo. The next stretch, which he started that fall, took him past the Grand Tetons, down the Yellowstone River, across the Boundary Waters of northern Minnesota and ultimately to Lake Superior.

There were two low points on that section of the trip: It was so cold in October that ice continually built up on his paddle and on his canoe in Montana, he said. And a month later, in Minnesota, he had to jump into the water to save his canoe, which had floated away when it was left unattended.

"It had been sleeting and snowing for a week so I knew if I got my clothes wet they would never dry. So I stripped naked and jumped in the lake and swam after my boat," he said.

The rest of the trip continued uneventfully, but he recalled one miserable stretch in northern New York in which he was using his bicycle to pull his supplies and canoe through what he described as an Amish community. He said the occupants of one of the buggies let out a chuckle as they passed.

"I don’t think they were laughing at me," he said. "It was more like, ‘Hey that’s something I’ve never seen before.’"

Martin said he plans to spend a few weeks with his family before departing for New Zealand, where he’ll lead whitewater trips.



Martins’ blog http://americasriversexpedition.blogspot.com/