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Furthest you have carried to launch a canoe?

Jul 6, 2021
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The Hereford Zone along the Mason-Dixon Line
I don’t mean long carries between lakes or watersheds, I mean the furthest you have carried to first day launch the canoe at water’s edge.

I don’t recall carrying more than a few hundred yards, a quarter mile at most, and I cart canoe and gear at launches with whenever I comfortably can.

But, a long-standing fantasy was to get some lightweight boat – initially a UL pack canoe on a cradle adapted backpack frame, or later, a packing in lightweight folder or inflatable - and hike it up to some largish alpine lake in the Rockies with a sizable mid-lake island. I did not have the mad-money to realize any of those portable-boat fantasies at the time.

I would fish the edges of those lakes, gaze out at the island and wonder “When was the last time anyone set foot out there?” and, especially, “How cool would it be to set up camp out there?

The ubiquitously named “Island Lake” in the Wind River’s Titcomb Basin held special fascination; I felt drawn, repeatedly, to someday set foot on that island, and seriously considered packing in a cheap pool-toy raft, and trying to swim my garbage-bag waterproofed backpack out to the island, to camp there, prowl the island and fish the shores. Just out, and a couple days later, back to shore.

Couldawoulda, maybe shoulda, but that water was testify freaking cold. Swimming my gear out never happened, perhaps a wise choice.

With the advent of lighter weight skin on frames, quality inflatables and weird origami folders someone has probably beat me to it. I bet the never-before bank fishing is excellent out on those islands. And I somehow hope they didn’t use an inflatable stand up paddle board to get out there and back.

Well, OK, if someone did, more power to them; the last human out there, and on alpine islands elsewhere, may have been some Shoshone brave on a dare, earning the honorific title Ka'iH Bozha.

Translated as “He of the shrunken testicles

What was your longest carry to water, or remains your longest unrealized carry-in fantasy ?
The first portage at Bowron Lakes is 2000 meters. From the parking lot to the first water body. But it is cartable.. Cheating?
We have portaged over a mile over tundra from Duo Lakes to the beginning of the navigable Snake River in the Yukon. Duo Lakes is just big enough for single Otters to land. But they are kettle lakes ; their sole function is a landing strip. No cart here.. And Royalex Mad River Explorers and the tanklike Revelation.
Leano Lake is about a 500 meter portage from the parking lot in Woodland Caribou.
From Round Lake to Allagash Lake is a couple of miles but usually you can park at the gate and save a mile.. Its on an old woods road and mostly cartable.
I have a fantasy of taking the RapidFire to Avalanche Lake in the Adirondacks. It would be a 5.5 mile portage and involve ladders. So it will remain a fantasy.
Back in 2005 I wanted to do a trans-Adirondack trek, from my home on the southwestern Adirondack border, to my daughter's then home just past Plattsburgh beyond the Pburg shore of Lake Champlain outside the northwestern Adirondack border.

My home is 3 road miles from where I would reach first waterway linking my route to include the Northern Forsest Canoe Trail ( in the year before it was officially established and published). So technically according to the OP's definition, it was a 3 mile portage to first day launch. just 11 water miles after that, the longest single portage leg was 15 miles to the first signifiant lake, then several miles of wilderness bushwhack to the next and linking onto the NFCT. All in all the total distance door to door was 185 miles, including 65 total miles of carries during a hot dry low water week in July.

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Last week my bro and I just entered at Angleworm lake in the BWCA. Two miles from parking lot to water (well, 716 rods, I believe).
The first attempt at quenching the "Boy, I sure wish I had a boat." fantasy was in my early youth. Backpacking 15-miles into a remote pond with friends, we each had a secret treasure buried in our ridiculously heavy packs. Wes pulled out a liter of bourbon, Doug carried a collection of wildflower guides, Steve had a Ziploc full of cashews and I revealed an eight-pound rubber raft. Of course, I took first place in the superfluous weight category. We each had fun splashing about in the PVC toy, but all agreed that Wes had the right idea.

I have since graduated to hard-sided paddle craft, while I do not baulk at long carries, most of my adventures start from a lake or river where there is an established put-in with legal overnight parking, so the initial carry is rarely more than 50 yards. I had to think long and hard as I have many miles under my belt with a canoe in tow, but my longest roof rack to water carry would be the 4.25 miles of the Old Military Road from the Pillsbury Mountain trail head to Cedar Lakes in the West Canada Lake Wilderness (Adirondacks).
Portaged an Alumicraft 18', a mile.
Thought It was going to kill me !
That was in my mid 40s.
Mine has been probably .25 mile from the truck. It is below a dam and the first safe launch is about that far. Carried Grumman, Alumacrafts, Solo's all sorts down there.
Whatever the short distance is from the parking lot down to Lake Lila is the furthest I've needed to carry before reaching water. The only other place I can remember having to carry my gear a "distance" is from the one parking lot down to Long Pond; I think it's about a 1/4 mile.

That's all for now. Take care and until next time...be well.

Mine is exactly the same as yellowcanoe: the 2 km (1.2 miles) portage from the parking lot at Bowron Lakes Circuit.
Now tell me you carried your kit and not a cart. There were so many potholes on the second port that day I wish I had never brought the cart. That one was 1.7 km
Now tell me you carried your kit and not a cart. There were so many potholes on the second port that day I wish I had never brought the cart. That one was 1.7 km
Yeah, it's pretty rough with a cart, but doable--sorta marginal. But I was glad I wasn't humping my 73# Clipper WW3 like I did the previous time (after having poo pooed the idea of using a cart). I learn slowly, but I do learn, sometimes.
Now tell me you carried your kit and not a cart. There were so many potholes on the second port that day I wish I had never brought the cart. That one was 1.7 km
We used the cart, because our friends wanted to; but I was not happy with it. Way too many potholes. I think I would have been better off without the cart. And then you’re stuck with it for the duration, taking up valuable space in the canoe. Never again.
5.5 miles, from Third Machias to Fifth Machias (Downeast Maine) to start a solo trip. I'd planned to drop boat/gear near the put-in and do a foot shuttle of that distance, but it was early April and the roads were closed due to frost, etc. I probably should have known that, but I was tripping earlier than usual because all the canoe races were cancelled due to covid. Anyhow, it was a miserable carry, mostly because it was unexpected (e.g., I had a 6gal gamma seal bucket for a weekender). However, I had complete solitude -- nobody could get in there other than by float plane or moronic portage. No TR as I lost my camera in the drink on day 3. Nothing ever goes as planned!
it was probably when I was a kid before I got a car- weekend trips from home to a river 2km to the east or a different one 5km to the west. That canoe cost me my life's savings at 12yrs old, no way was it going to sit idle in paddling season...
Conversely (obversely?) what about the shortest distance?

A lot of local day trip launches are short and easy, 50 to 100 feet. Or further if I don’t want to park close, and sometimes I don’t.

If it is a popular/busy put in, with enough parking, especially on a day trip, I’ll park away from any launch chaos, with plenty of elbow room around the truck; put the canoe on the cart, leisurely load it alongside with gear, and wheel my way ready-to-go down to the water.

PC110015 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

With all the gear aboard and properly stowed, back band installed, paddles and PFD I can be quick about it once I get there; un-strap the cart, put the canoe in the water, put the cart in the canoe (yay daytrip; I don’t even need to disassemble the wheels) and paddle away.

I can be very quick about it if there is any launch chaos; seriously, I am not here for noise, bedlam and other people. Away with him I say, quick as can be. And, with the cart already in the canoe, the load out, if so desired*, can be equally easy.

*Admittedly I am more likely to chat up fellow paddlers at the end of a trip.

The easiest launch may be the put in at the Old Ferry Landing on Assateague, a wide shell beach, a paddle craft-only launch; gently sloping crushed shell all the way to the water’s edge, which itself is hard sand bottom slowly sloping off for an easy wade-the-canoe-out to ankle deep water’s launch. Delightful.

That is a rare A+++ of paddle craft launches; stage gear as close as you want to the water. heck, you could back into the water and wet foot gear into the canoe.

And, on that note, the Old Ferry Landing is also my closest ever proximity on the return trip. I had scoped out a high tide prediction, to make paddle out day as deep and easy as possible, and timed it just right. It was deep and easy all the way to the truck, which was parked 100 feet from the landing, taking the furthest away spot since the truck would be parked there for a week.

I didn’t really “read” the tide charts, just had a glance, and had unknowingly selected a very high tide, a King Tide. My furthest away spot was on the highest gentle slope parking lot ground.

Luckily the Bay water was only 6” deep on the truck tires, and - how many chances do you get - I paddled a loop around the parking lot’s curbed center island, until the bow touched the back bumper, and declared victory. A personal best that has, thankfully, stood the test of time.

And, en route home, hit the first self-wash station to blast the wheels and undercarriage. Tacoma frames have enough recurring rust problems without parking in, and of-necessity driving slowly through, salt water.

Don’t even get me started on folks with a 70K family SUV and an Oversand Permit for the beachfront, going “WEEEEEE!” as they splash through the surf.
Once upon a time I'd walk a mile for a Camel, but I've been cutting back. Same goes with the long distance put-in.
I guess the Marshall Lake access (1 Km?) was the longest I've trekked to start a trip, but the company was excellent so I knew it would all be worth it. And it was.
Altho' being older now I'm actually much fitter than I was back then. Despite that I still don't like starting canoe trips with gear schlepping over distances.