Preparing for a trip is almost as fun as going on the trip, and with this leg being the longest, farthest away, and on the biggest river yet, planning is essential. From the day we finished the Allegheny River last May we began talking and planning for this next stage of our journey.
Being map geeks we delight in poring over the US Army Corps of Engineers river navigation charts. Along with our Quimby’s Cruising Guide and Google Maps, these charts help us anticipate how far we might go, where we’ll find boat ramps, camping spots and other services, and the all important info – on which side of the river is the next lock. These books hold center stage on the Karen’s dining table, where Mark joins in the fun of research.
As launch h day approaches, we gather gear. The tried and true tent airs out after a long winter dormancy, while the new pack stove, smaller sleeping bag and neoprene boots (all Christmas presents from Karen’s family) await their chance to prove themselves. We’re trying to reduce the bulk of our gear, but navigation lights are a new addition, just in case we can’t find a campsite and have to stay on the river after dusk.
My (Karen’s) biggest concern is whether my body is ready for this longer trip. Though I’ve resumed walking and stretching this spring, my aches and pains are more numerous and frequent. Will I be able to handle 8-10 hours in a canoe, followed by nights sleeping on the ground? You can bet Ibuprofen is on the list for both of us to bring! When we get on the water I have no doubt the thrill of adventure will make up for a little discomfort.
Though the prep and planning have been fun, I’m eager to get on with the trip. Six more days and we’ll be launching in Pittsburgh!