It's early spring, and it's the perfect time to start planning your family's canoe camping trip this summer. Lake canoe camping trips are a fabulous way to get kids into the wilderness, but river trips are my first love.
When my partner and I felt that we were ready to tackle this with kids, we planned our first multi-day trip on the Allagash River. Unfortunately, water levels were depressingly low that summer, so a few days before the trip we switched destinations to the St. Croix River, on the other side of the state. Despite not being as remote as we had planned, it was one of the best adventures we've had together. It wasn't all smooth; we made some mistakes, including busting up a boat. More on that later.
Wilderness river trips are more difficult to plan than lake trips, and they require greater organization. Once you're on the river, though, your family will have a blast. The scenery is constantly changing, every campsite is a new adventure, and rapids are awesome. Plus, the river keeps you moving forward even when the kids punk out.
There's a lot to cover here, so this will be the first in a series of blog posts about backcountry river trips with kids.
Into the Wilderness
Maine has spectacular wilderness areas that don't have cell service, roads, or infrastructure. Before embarking on a wilderness trip you should have some confidence that you can handle small to medium emergencies without outside assistance. I highly recommend taking a Wilderness First Aid class to help build some basic skills and comfort. To be clear, I don't believe you need to be an EMT to venture into the backcountry with your family. Just be prepared.
We carry a Garmin InReach GPS. We can use it to send and receive messages to family, or send an SOS call in an emergency. It's not cheap, but it sure feels good to know its there. There are other good options available like the Spot satellite messenger.
At the very least, you should leave a float plan with someone back home. A good float plan gives the essential details of your trip. It includes your put-in and planned take-out, your start date, and your planned end date. It's a good idea to include number of boats, description of boats, details of your party, and any emergency gear you'll have with you. It'