I journaled meticulously during my 52 days on the trail - sometimes to log boring details and other times to record my story. What you are reading is my word-for-word account, logged directly from the two notebooks I filled during my time paddling the NFCT. Some days are short, others are lavish and detailed. There are mistakes, it may not always make sense, but it is certainly a true account of the experience. Enjoy! 

Journal 15.jpeg

I woke up before my alarm. I peeked out my tent and noticed Ernie was already tearing down his tent. Today, I was the slowest. Rosser took off quickly, I don’t even think she had breakfast. Ernie left soon after. I was a bit sore from the hard paddling I did yesterday.

North Hero State Park in the distance - where I ended yesterday, and began today

The water was calm until I got out into the open, I paused to put on my skirt before proceeding further into the chop. It was a steady and uneventful paddle up through the final section of Lake Champlain. Once I got to the marshy Missisquoi National Wildlife Refuge I turned on my GPS because I knew I’d have trouble finding the river entrance. Before I even thought I was close, I was at the river’s mouth. The way into the mouth was low, so low that I had to get out and walk amongst the many mussels to get the boat across - not a good sign!

Long Marsh Bay and the entrance to the Missisquoi National Wildlife Refuge

Once I entered the actual river I was good, high water and plenty of it! Herons were flying about everywhere! I paddle right next to an unsuspecting beaver who realized I was 15 yards behind him and splashed off.

After a questionable start, I was happy to find adequate water levels in the slow Missisquoi River.

I followed the Missisquoi River upstream to Swanton Dam where I ate a lunch of almonds and a fruit cup. Then I carried and carted my boat .5 miles to the put in on the other side of the dam. I left my boat there, and ran up the street to see if I could find any sort of resupply. I was out of lunch items, hence my small lunch today, and needed some more energy! I was pleased to find that there was a gas station up the road where I bought english muffins, cheese, candy, and a soda. I also filled my waters before heading back to the boat where I enjoyed my soda before launching.

A quick lunch break at Marble Mill Park in Swanton, VT

A stone monument to Abenaki Indian heritage in Swanton, VT

It was an uneventful but lovely 7 miles of upstream paddling which brought me to my nights’ destination, the Highgate Falls Dam. Before I arrived, I spotted four river otters playing in the water. I videoed them and followed their snake-like tails for a moment while they chirped back at me.

I landed at the dam take out and carried my belongings and boat up two flights of log stairs. I found the site I was aiming for, but it was a little junky and quite trashed, so I passed on it after signing the NFCT register and went further into the portage where a power line clearing seemed more suitable. The area was pretty trashy, cans and a variety of bullet shells littered the path and surrounding woods.

Camped along the power lines on the Highgate Falls Portage

I started the water boiling first so I could let my curry dinner rehydrate while I set up camp. I journaled for a long time after eating dinner. I need to get up early tomorrow, my forecast is calling for thunderstorms at 11AM! As the sun set I heard the ambient sounds of dogs barking, cars, and gunshots. It is odd, yet nice to finally be solo once again, I feel focused. I don’t know where Rosser made it to, she must have stealth camped up ahead, she signed the register today, yet the next listed site is not for another 10+ miles - on top of an already 22 mile day!