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Things you've lost or misplaced on a canoe trip . . .

Glenn MacGrady

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. . . and found again or never found.

In the early 1980s, I lost my big Bill's Bag full of all my gear when rescuing my Mad River Explorer from being pinned at the head of class 5 Coal Mine Falls on the Eel River in California. I had dumped in the previous class 3 rapid and was rescued by a tandem team recently in Japan who instructed me to let go of my canoe, which ended up being pinned on the central small rock in this picture.

Coal Mine Falls.jpg

We tied two rope bags together and managed to pull the canoe almost vertically off the rock, while standing on top of the big boulders on river left. At that point, my Bill's Bag fell out of the canoe cover cockpit. I was the only time—really!—that I ever neglected to carabiner that bag to my floor d-ring. It disappeared down Coal Mine Falls, which took us at least an hour to portage. Fortunately, we found the bag in an eddy about half a mile from the take-out of that three-day trip. Everything in the bag was wet, and about $700 of camera equipment was destroyed. Paddle and learn!

I lost a Mitchell Premier paddle in Triple Drop Rapid in the Rock river in Vermont, a tributary of the West River. 66-year-old Joe Lavender, the only paddler with experience on this mysterious river, ran all three drops wobbly but clean. Dr. Phyllis dumped in the first drop, Ed dumped in the second drop, and I dumped in the third drop. Steve Tuckerman ran the rapid and rescued my canoe, but didn't see my paddle. I also lost a nice Harmony paddle with a pole vault shaft that I had loaned to another paddler who dumped on the Upper Ashuelot River in New Hampshire, just above class 4+ Gilsum George, on Easter weekend. Both of those trips were in the mid-1980s.

The first and only time I ran the Lehigh River was also in the mid-80s, a two-day tandem trip with @TomP in my Millbrook ME. We met a number of paddlers on that trip who later became good friends. Eating lunch one day, Tom used my TEKNA dive knife to cut some cheese. That's the only time that PFD knife was used for anything, and it didn't cut the cheese all that well because it has a thick blade spine is and mainly good for stabbing zombies.

TEKNA Dive Knife.jpg

After the Herculean cheese cutting job, Tom put the knife down on the shore rocks where we forgot it. Tom felt guilty and eventually bought me another, which Maggie just found after a 30-year absence in my basement.

My biggest blunder was in 2013 when I went to Alaska to visit my grade school and high school buddy, Jim, whom I had only seen once since the 1960s. We paddled some lakes and rivers tandem and I soloed a few days. The Eagle River was very zippy and nice. Here I am on Lake Eklutna.

Lake Eklutna, Alaska.JPG

I took hundreds of pictures on that trip with my trusty Pentax waterproof P&S camera, which I had bought in 2004 in Sacramento, California, when I was picking up my Huki V1-B outrigger canoe.

On my last day of the trip, before my midnight flight, I apparently left the camera on top of of Jim's car when I was looking at the Portage River after I had solo paddled among the eternal icebergs on Portage Lake, which cleave off Portage Glacier, which feeds the lake, outside of Anchorage.

Portage Glacier, Lake and River.jpg

I didn't realize the camera was missing until I stopped to take a picture of a moose on the road. I backtracked to the river site but never found the camera.

On the drive back to Anchorage to return the OT Penobscot to REI, one of the four foam blocks blew off the roof of the SUV. I scurried around the highway and finally retrieved it. I flew home a few hours later with all my pictures of my one-and-only Alaska trip lost forever. But, for internet posterity, here's a photo of Jim and me with Denali in the background.

JIm Rowe & Glenn MacGrady - Denali, Mt. McKinley.JPG
 
Invariably there is something I'm unable to find on a trip. I'll be almost certain I remembered to pack it but after a couple days of not finding it I give up.

Then, when I get home and start unpacking, I find whatever it was tucked away in the little out of the way pocket that I thought was just perfect for it.

On the plus side it helped me to stop bringing extra stuff "just in case." I always managed to get by with very little inconvenience and I began leaving more and more of those things behind intentionally.

My Seattle Sombrero blew out of the canoe on a windy lake on a long canoe trip and I didn't realize it until a couple miles later. That was the beginning of 2 weeks of cold, wet, windy weather and I missed it dearly.

Alan
 
While I'm far more likely to forget to pack something, I'm usually decent at keeping track of gear in the woods and try to limit my losses to terminal tackle but this past Fall wasn't usual in that regard.

Besides lots of jigs lost (mostly to toothy freakin' Pike), I lost a 8x36 Vortex Solo monocular and one of my GoPros on portages. I didn't lose much footage on the GoPro as I'd changed the sd card the previous night and I don't seem to ever edit all the footage any way so I'm unsure is I'll replace it. I'll probably replace the monocular before the trip this summer and I sure missed it this past deer season.
 
I retrieved the sunscreen from a pack while fishing and watched my multi-tool plop into the water. I also left a plastic tent footprint in a clearing where it was drying. Didn’t realize it until we camped that night. Despite my best efforts, I left a trace.
 
On a trip in NW Ontario we stopped for lunch at the end of a portage. I foolishly hung my favorite tripping hat on a tree. Of course, after lunch we shoved off and it wasn’t until several more portages passed that I realized where my hat was. We were not going back for the hat even though it meant a lot to me - I had used it on many trips.

I hate to lose stuff on trips but have found more stuff than I have lost. When I used to do white water trips I developed a collection of paddles found in eddies. Sometimes they could be returned when owner’s contact info had been written on the paddle. My largest collection of found items is tent stakes. I find them in my favorite UP wilderness area which is popular. Since I tend to take early and late season trips I guess I am in the best position to find this stuff before/after the busy summer season. My latest find there was an inexpensive black plastic digital watch which spent the winter in the leaves at a campsite - still works just fine. Takes a licking’ and keeps on tickin’.
 
my mind...
No seriously I've lost lots of small stuff, but only three items of consequence- my Gerber shorty on a run on the French River (smaller, heavier version of the venerable river shorty, no longer made), My first hand-forged 8"+ hunting knife at a group gathering, it had a hand ground recurve tip and a customized fiberglass handle made of long- strand fiberglass which required me to squeeze the handle for 20 minutes (fiberglass gets HOT when it cures) while it set up to form the grip exactly to my hand, followed by hours of sanding and polishing. It wasn't all that useful, being long enough to filet a still fighting bear, but too long for much else, but it was sentimental...
The third was my much abused and well worn Tilley T3 made of "nylantium" that I had applied multiple coats of waterproofing to, which I wore sun or shine on every trip to protect my follically challenged dome- disappeared from my boat while I was loading gear at a very popular take out. I swear it was stolen, but my buddy claims and animal took it due to its odor of well aged rotting meat...
The wife bought me a new one that she actually still allows me to bring in the house :rolleyes:
 
On a trip in NW Ontario we stopped for lunch at the end of a portage. I foolishly hung my favorite tripping hat on a tree. Of course, after lunch we shoved off and it wasn’t until several more portages passed that I realized where my hat was. We were not going back for the hat even though it meant a lot to me - I had used it on many trips.

I hate to lose stuff on trips but have found more stuff than I have lost. When I used to do white water trips I developed a collection of paddles found in eddies. Sometimes they could be returned when owner’s contact info had been written on the paddle. My largest collection of found items is tent stakes. I find them in my favorite UP wilderness area which is popular. Since I tend to take early and late season trips I guess I am in the best position to find this stuff before/after the busy summer season. My latest find there was an inexpensive black plastic digital watch which spent the winter in the leaves at a campsite - still works just fine. Takes a licking’ and keeps on tickin’.
I literally have hundreds of tent stakes in my garage, I generally try to do a late fall trip and pick up anywhere from one to a dozen pegs on my final walk-through when leaving a site. I've given away bags of pegs to local scout groups dozens of times...
 
More belt knives than I can remember. Usually they go missing about day 2 of a 3 week trip. I’ve started using Mora knives, their lower price kinda eases the pain and have a back up pocket knife waiting in the repair kit.
In every day life I’m not the most organized, but out in the bush I’m a bit anal retentive about where everything goes and things are kept in their place which reduces the risk of losing stuff.
 
On the John Day River in Oregon my friend traveling solo swamped his canoe and sunk it in big haystacks. Nothing was tied in so most of his equipment floated away. We were able to find his sleeping bag and tent and some other dry bags floating in eddies less than a mile downstream. Some of the stuff showed up a day or two later. We called it "eddy shopping."

My great uncle's Dutch Oven from 1935 was in his canoe. It was resting on the bottom of the river. We went to the far shore and were able to throw a lifeline to my friend. He tied the lid and the bail on DO to the line and I dragged them across the bottom of the river to get it back. a few things were lost forever.
 
A week ago I lost my Olympus Stylus Tough camera in the Adirondacks. I was ready to paddle out at the end of an 8 day loop trip, canoe loaded. I turned around to look at the campsite a last time, and clearly took a bit too long, and hadn't made sure the canoe was secure. I turned around and the boat was already 15 or 20 feet out and moving. I took off my binoculars & hat and jumped in, hoping to catch it. But though I got within several feet, it was gradually accelerating so I gave up about 50 feet or so out. I can swim but am not what you'd call a strong swimmer. I followed along the shore and eventually it drifted close enough to shore, and slowed down enough, that I was able to retrieve it. But I was so rattled by the experience (it was a moderate-sized lake) that I didn't think about the camera until the next day. I keep it in my pants pocket for easy access, with a camera float in case I drop it. It must have come out while I was swimming. I'm happy that the only thing permanently lost was the camera.
Other than that I've mostly lost smaller things, including 3 Tilley hats in just 3 years.
 
have found more stuff than I have lost

I literally have hundreds of tent stakes in my garage

Finding things is an interesting addition to the topic.

I've retrieved a few lost paddles on whitewater rivers, but except for one nice Mad River Mitchell they are all heavy plastic raft paddles that I've never used.

The most unusual find was when @TomP, his father and I were testing canoes (Millbrook/Mad River ME vs. Blue Hole Sunburst II vs. Whitesell Piranha) for an article in the AMC newletter. We paddled the Blenheim Waves on the Schoharie Creek in the northern Catskills, NY, the week after the Schoharie had mega-flooded and collapsed the NY Thruway bridge over the river in April 1987. I found an 8' section of the metal river gauge staff, nailed to a 2x4, on the river shore. I put it in my boat, brought it home, and still have it next to my outside canoe rack. (Maybe I'll take and insert a picture later.)
 
Speaking of finds, this is my most interesting and treasured find.image.jpgFound in the Sylvania Wilderness/Ottawa NF western UP Michigan. Sylvania was designated a wilderness in the late 1980s as I recall. The USFS staff pulled the portage markers and discarded them in the woods. My buddy walked into the woods at the landing for this portage for a nature call and came out with it. I took it home and sawed off the rotting back and now it’s a nice wall hanging.
 
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My "long spoon", actually several of them including one last week that one of my generous companions had given to me last Spring when I lost my own, I had that one because I had lost the one I brought with me on that trip. That one was a replacement for my original long spoon that I had used for 20 years without losing (I think that means 3 long spoons lost).

I've lost a couple of cameras over the years, why doesn't Pelican warn you that their cases are useless if you dump and the case is not closed?
 
My wallet and a video camera were secured in a pocket of a small back pack, along with a few other small items. The backpack was tied to a thwart of my buddy’s Grumman as we descended a rapid on the East Outlet. We were ejected when the non-floating painter on the canoe engaged the river bottom. We were unable to retrieve the canoe until the next day, and left it, still upright, bouncing on waves in the middle of the rapid. Next day, it was mostly submerged and destroyed by the time we got it back. My pack was still attached to the thwart, but the current had unzipped and emptied it.

I put on goggles and swam that rapid, looking in the eddies behind every rock. But the wallet and camera were nowhere to be found..
 
Day trip fishing the Pere Marquette river for spring steelhead. At days end I couldn't find my cell phone or my watch. Hunted everywhere in my buddies house, my car, - nothing. This was the last day of spring fishing so I put the neoprene waders away for the summer.

Fall rolls around and I get the waders out, go to put 'em on and there they were.
 
I lost a Leatherman. We were paddling along the Colorado River (Texas south of Coumbus). I suddenly needed to relieve myself (#2). We stopped at the first suitable location and I ran behind a tree. My Leatherman was in a holster on my belt. I guess the little snap must have not been snapped. The Leatherman must have dropped out when I dropped my drawers. I didn't notice it until we were several miles down river.
 
I lost a Leatherman. We were paddling along the Colorado River (Texas south of Coumbus). I suddenly needed to relieve myself (#2). We stopped at the first suitable location and I ran behind a tree. My Leatherman was in a holster on my belt. I guess the little snap must have not been snapped. The Leatherman must have dropped out when I dropped my drawers. I didn't notice it until we were several miles down river.

Your story reminds me that I did essentially the same thing. On the morning of a seven day Adirondacks trip, before I drove to the shuttle service, I went into a McDonalds to use the rest room. I had my one and only knife in my pants pocket. When I left the rest room I apparently no longer had it. Good thing I really didn't need a knife on that trip.
 
Day trip fishing the Pere Marquette river for spring steelhead. At days end I couldn't find my cell phone or my watch. Hunted everywhere in my buddies house, my car, - nothing. This was the last day of spring fishing so I put the neoprene waders away for the summer.

Fall rolls around and I get the waders out, go to put 'em on and there they were.
I've done that, my waders have both an inside and outside pocket, so of course during spring trout runs the smokes went on the outside and my fly wallet (with about $500 in flies) went in the inside....
found my flies half a year later when I went to put the new wallet with my salmon flies in the same pocket.:rolleyes:
 
Gerber River Shorty, mounted on the front of my PFD, had a sheath to which the knife snapped into. The knife dropped out somewhere and was lost. Somebody else had a similar drop-out while they were carrying around a log jam on the Mullica River. I found it and snapped it into the vacant sheath on my PFD. A year or two later, that one dropped out while I was practicing rescues near a swimming beach. I spent a lot of time looking for it because I was afraid somebody would get knifed in the foot while using the beach, but I was unable to find it. I gave up on River Shorty knives. They rusted too easily anyhow.
 
I omitted it from my trip report, but last month we lost a Luggable Lou toilet lid on our trip to Jocassee. It was behind the stern seat and I leaned back on it. I was trying to push the protruding hinge around to the side, so would stop digging in my back. Instead of must have popped it off. I realized 20 minutes after we lost it, but by then it was too late. Even if it didn't sink it would have been impossible to find in the wind and waves.

20 years ago I lost a helmet on the highway. I forgot to remove it from the kayak after returning to the van.
 
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