• Happy Scream Day! 😱

Unfulfilled Tripping Dreams?

I've never been an expedition type of tripper, my longest trip was 10 nights out. As a Minnesota boy I've become a BWCA fanatic to the tune of 4 or 5 trips a year most years. I've paddled, hiked, skied or snowshoed during every calendar month of the year. I enjoy various types of trips (solo, mainly fishing, base camping, exploring as many lakes as possible) so that's probably why I take multiple trips a year with different folks. I've found that now in my late 60's taking a few 25 year olds makes portaging a lot easier!
I am currently on a streak of 58 years of at least 1 overnight trip to the BWCA and have been targeting getting that to 60. So far my health has been pretty good so I'm thinking I'll make it between this year and next.

Have also been looking at doing some of the Green river in Utah and Woodland caribou with some of my grand sons now that they are getting a bit older and are all getting bigger than me too.
Ditto, exactly, and I regret it. I should have done something in early retirement when I was still strong, but it just never seemed to work out.

At 79, my extended tripping days are likely over. I still have hopes of some base camping trips in the Dacks, and one last canoe hurrah of some sort in my boyhood canoe cradle in Maine. Mostly, I wish I could move to the southeastern U.S. where warm day trips are close and plentiful, but that is unlikely for complicated and difficult family reasons.

Long trips and destinations we're never my goal. I simply have always been in love with the physical, mental and spiritual joys that enflood me when I'm manipulating a canoe with a single blade. Or just floating around or along. When I can't even do that on a day trip, there will be no adequate substitute activity that I can foresee for my narrow and narrowing life.
Glenn, are you getting out on the Houzy at all? When I was living in CT, it seemed as if I rarely saw anyone using that magnificent resource. At one point I wanted to complete a source to sea Housatonic trip.....but alas, life changed my course.
I have some time, and it doesn’t sound as exciting as a wilderness trip...but I want to paddle the length of the Erie canal. Start in Buffalo. The time off needed from work are a bit prohibitive.

I’m a few hours from the Colorado River, so that’s on my short list as well.
Glenn, are you getting out on the Houzy at all?

Yes, that's my local paddle: Addis Park, through Lovers Leap Gorge to Lake Lillinonah, to the Bridgewater landing, and back. It gets too familiar after a while. Here's a short trip report about the run:

Turning 73 in a Month, this thread has been interesting to me. About an equal mix of high hopes and woe is me’s discussed. Most of you have many years in canoes so i can understand your reluctance to give up something so familiar and enjoyable to you.
For me; there were canoes off and on at various times but these last 30 some years spent in Alaska were wonderful in an Ocean boat! In a different world i’d have spent my final days on that boat but once the Wife lost what little interest she had, trips became less frequent. Bear in mind “Huda Thunkit” held 100 gallons of gas so when we took her out we’d anchor out for days at a time. Once “your there” it’s pretty cheap! This time was spent in the Gulf of Alaska or Prince William Sound, sometimes 60+ miles from civilization.
Then Wifey’s health went south and i cant be away from home over night, leaving the wife with chores so canoes came back into the picture after selling the big boat.
For now i’m completely comfortable hefting the 50 lb‘er onto the 4-runner and the closest lake is 10 minutes away. And talk about familiar, i can relate; knowing a number of the people living on the lake. But i’m out, in a boat and that’s what matters. I’ve also worked hard paying it forward with a young family who can “help“ launch and load the Discovery (70+lb.) when we’re dipping Salmon. Having conversations with people in other boats, so close to yours you cant get your net out of the water sometimes is not conventional canoeing for sure but i’ve adapted and look forward to that season each year.
One day at a time, mortality’s a funny thing And along the way if canoes go away i’ll find something else to fill the gap. I like to tell people, “only my bones are old, inside i’m still a punk”.

I watched Shawn White being interviewed at the Olympics many years ago during his, “hat on backwards, pants down around his butt days” and would not normally give someone like that a second look; but what he told the reporter has always stuck with me. I’m not entirely sure what question the guy posed but Shawn just shrugged his shoulders and said, “ i dont know what to tell you except, you guys need to live some better stories”!
I’ve got more “better stories” than regrets in my life and am thankful for all of it!
Last edited:
My immediate canoe tripping dreams involve retirement so that I have more time to do it! I have a little less than 3 years before I can retire (at age 59, which is pretty good), so after that, river gods willing, I'll be able to focus on some of my bucket list trips, like the BWCA, Voyageurs, some other Canadian rivers, the St. Croix in Maine, the Pine Barrens, and a circumnavigation of Lake Manicougan (aka the Eye of Quebec) that has particularly sparked my imagination. Oh, and the Whitney Wilderness loop in the Adirondacks.

I could go on...you all know what I mean.

I am making an urgent plea for everyone to complete their bucket list trips right away.

I have had many on my list for years - 50 years in one case. I worked hard so I could retire early, just at 61. Riddled with medical problems for the year after I retired I refocused my efforts to fill every day of 2024 with outdoor fun. I just turned 63 on Jan 1st. On January 2nd I was informed I now had my third form of cancer. This wasn't the warm fuzzy cancers I've had before. Those I could run from, and if I ran long enough and hard enough I could outpace them. Not this time. Each day I run it just gets closer. I don't know how long I have. The grueling wait until my next appointment will hopefully provide some relief, but it is hard to imagine.

My childhood dream was the Missainabi. I am working to put this trip together with both of my brothers for this spring. Hoping we get more snow up north. I have always wanted to canoe the Barren Lands. The Thelon was my goal. If I have the strength I might just have an honest talk with an outfitter, but time will tell.

SUMMARY - please everyone, avoid the feeling that there is always next year. Sometimes there is not. Setting aside the myriad emotions that develop as we approach death, my unfulfilled canoeing dreams rate right up there. Don't let this happen to you. Canoe trips you can mostly control, cancer you mostly can't. Start planning those trips today. Don't think about it, just start.

The pristine Rock Star hanging in my garage will get posted for sale here first as promised. Chick is aware. If the Miss is low I'll go anyway, but the hull won't be as pristine as it looks now. But then again, neither will I.
Thank you very much everyone.

This site has become a part of my life it seems - happy to have been here with you all.

I keep wondering why cancer seems to follow me, but maybe I have become so good at battling it I can wade through this one. At 63 I could say I wouldn't have minded a date further out, but it could have been a whole lot worse.
If you need a hand making a canoe trip, shout out. Glad you've got brothers who will help.
Thank you Bill. Very kind.
maybe I have become so good at battling it I can wade through this one.
I usually believe that we don't get any more than we can handle but there have been times which I've wished that God did not have so much faith in me.

Keep battling and, if at all possible, make the trips. The marks on the boat, like the scars on our bodies are signs of a life well lived and they should be celebrated not lamented. Godspeed in your continuing journey, know that we're rooting for you and that we'll all be looking forward to reading those trip reports.
Kathleen and I began canoeing and tripping fairly late in life. She was 38 and I was 42 for our first northern trip on the South Nahanni River, NWT, in 1990. Our last trip, in 2022 was 17 days on the Barren Grounds 300 km (200 miles) east of Yellowknife, NWT. It is January, the month that I have usually started planning our next canoeing adventure. Selecting the ideal destination. Ordering topographic maps. Assessing gear.

But not this January. Canoe tripping is over for Kathleen and me. She is now 71 and I am 76. In addition to our general decline in strength and stamina associated with aging, we now must endure other aches and pains. I have plantar fasciitis and peripheral neuropathy. Moreover the disks in the region of my lumbar vertebrae are deteriorating, such that even fairly short walks with our dog produce lower back pain.

But it’s ok. We had a very good run. We did what we wanted to do. And as we think about it, there are no specific canoe trips/rivers/lakes that remain unpaddled for us. We are completely satisfied, and look forward tp spending our summers with our dog and gardens. It’s time to more fully enjoy our property, and to explore more sedate cultural amenities, not only here in Saskatchewan, but throughout North America. We very much enjoyed our too short trip to Europe last summer and look forward to returning. We also intend to spend more time with family and friends.

Extended canoe trips brought us a lot of joy and satisfaction. But we are ready to move on. No regrets. No unfulfilled tripping dreams.

I’m wondering how other fellow paddlers have accepted or regretted the eventual end of an activity that we all have loved and pursued.
I periodically send friends an email with the subject line, another thing I should have done when I was younger.
I turn 70 in 2024. I have a compromised cardio vascular system, but other than that, my only major problem is arthritis in my left hip.
I can still do a lot, but a couple things I can't do are backpacks and Boundary Waters trips. The hip just won't handle it.
I've done several Boundary Waters trips so, at least, I can check that off the bucket list, but I never did one in a solo canoe.
I have a Northstar North Wind solo in Blacklite. It bugs the heck out of me that I can't take it to the Boundary Waters.
Dang. How about all the ancient coastal canoe trails and portages in Maine? I just might get there yet!
I'm new to the board, but been a paddler all my life. Did a lot more when I was young, including the border route in the BWCA from the West end of Rainy Lake to Grand Portage. That was back in '84, and I've planned many times to get back and do it again. Looks like this is the year, 40 years later! I've got a enough vacation time saved up, and a supportive (if somewhat reluctant) partner, and despite some minor health issues no show stoppers. @Alasgun I'm aiming for "better stories". I do feel the clock ticking, at 60. So it's hard to say how much this thread means to me. Thanks, especially you, @Keeled Over !

@ScottS you've got me thinking about the Upper Mississippi for next year. It would be so cool to finish the trip by portaging up from the river to my house.

@ArizonaPaddler I have a lot of family history in and around the Erie Canal. Adding that to the bucket list!

OK, off to the paddle erg while I wait for the snow to melt and the ice to clear...