Canoes, Kayaks, Rafts, and Birding in El Salvador

A blog post will be coming soon about paddling adventures in Central America. Especially a week-long sea kayak trip I made on Costa Rica’s Osa’s Golfo Dulce. Yes, I did cross over to the dark side and pick up a double-bladed paddle and sit in a kayak for many miles. Here’s my take. Canoes will always be my first love and canoes are the way to travel on river trips, and canoes are the only boat that makes sense canoe camping in the BWCA and Quetico. But out on open water? On sounds and the Great Lakes and on the open ocean? Sea kayaks (or sailboats) make the most sense.

El SalvadorYesterday, I completed a 2-day whitewater rafting trip on the Pacuare River. For … Continue reading

Roatan Island, Honduras

It’s as if I’ve been living in the stomach of a whale. Burps from sea grass, salty spitting spray, the throb of the ocean’s surging surf. Just 22 feet from the Caribbean, my Honduran cabin on Turtle Beach was a great place to spend three weeks.

I love the water – the rivers of the arctic, the lakes of the boundary waters, canyon rivers surrounded by deserts, tropical rivers carving through the jungle, and coral reefs. That last one spurred me to travel to Roatan Island. Maybe I could lead groups, not as a dive master, but more as a coordinator? I would love to share my passion for exploring coral reefs with my canoeing expedition crews.

My SCUBA certification was earned back in 1970. It was time for a diving tune-up. I took PADI open-water course from Clearwater Adventures conveniently located just three rods from my cabin. Denisse Mazu, … Continue reading

north of the sixtieth parallel

I just completed my 28th canoe trip north of the sixtieth parallel. This one was an exploratory expedition on the Kelly River. The Kelly is a rarely paddled river in the pristine Noatak watershed in northwest Alaska. The entire run is north of the Arctic Circle. It is known for gin clear water, extraordinary fishing for Dollie Varden char and when the salmon are running one of the highest density of fishing grizzly bears in the world. I had a crew of eight all of whom were veterans of previous far north, or Rio Grande trips with me. Each had special talents and they all blended well. I teased them that they comprised a team of bad ass paddlers which wasn’t far from the truth.

They deserved better weather and river conditions than they got.

The word from those that know the Noatak Valley is, one day of rain in … Continue reading

Isle Royale National Park Canoe Trip

Here I am, standing on Ryan Island which is the largest island on Siskiwit Lake, which is the largest lake on Isle Royale, which is the largest island on Lake Superior, which is the largest lake on the “island” called North America.

Isle Royale National Park (interior lakes) is a fun canoe trip, long easy portages, great wild flowers, good animal sightings – 3 moose, many beaver, otters, turtles laying eggs, swans, loons, eagles. Continue reading

Naked and Safe


Today, camped beside the Rio Grande in the depths of Bouquillas Canyon, I am only a stone’s toss from Mexico. Although I could not be much further from the BWCAW and still be in the United States, I am feeling the same solitude and safety that I experience in the boundary water’s wilderness so far to the north. What I crave and what I search for and find in wild places around the globe is the same. It is safety. In the city, suburbs, even when surrounded by cows or acres of corn in the countryside, I feel crowded, off-kilter, and as if I do not belong. In wilderness, wherever the lure of adventure draws me, I feel my inner source, my true calling. Only the climate, landscape, vegetation and wildlife changes. … Continue reading

Fishing Season is Upon Us, get the LEAD out. Do You Enjoy Loons? How About Swans?

The following was written by  Carpenter Nature Center Education Intern Annabelle Barr

Lead sinkers are commonplace and traditional in fishing, but research over the past couple decades has revealed that lead tackle has devastating effects on wildlife. Waterbirds, especially loons and swans, have taken the hardest hit from these poisonous sinkers. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency references two long-term studies that found that lead poisoning was the cause of death in about 25% of adult loons. Another study from Canada in 1998 reported that 23% of loons died from lead poisoning, and that 125 to 187 million lead sinkers are left in Canadian waters annually. These waterbirds often ingest the sinkers when swallowing small pebbles to help grind their food, and after ingesting the lead, the bird will show physical and behavioral symptoms that impair its ability to fly and make it more vulnerable to predators. The birds often die … Continue reading

Upcoming Paddlesport Events

I was remiss in not promulgating Canoecopia in Madison last March, and Midwest Mountaineering’s Adventure Expo, last April. I presented my “Tips from a Thousand Trips” and “Planning A Far North Canoe Trip” at both those shows. Many of my blog readers and past crew on my expeditions came down front and said hello. It’s always good to connect and reconnect, and the shows are fun, but if I have my druthers, I would rather be in the stern of a canoe than behind a podium. That said, I will be presenting at two upcoming shows and these shows are a little different in both size and location than the big city expos. Both are in the heart of canoe country and combine some possible paddling time with presentations. Being smaller creates easier space and extra time for more focused dialog and storytelling: The Great American Canoe Festival June 10-11 … Continue reading

Rob at 65

Last year, I remember commenting that on my sixty-fourth birthday I had one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel. Another year has passed and I am still standing and still feeling strong.  Amazing, especially considering that bull elephant in Tanzania.

On my birthday I would like to wish all my friends and family, new and old, fine health and good cheer. Those that follow my blog at thanks for your support. Those that were crew on my expeditions this year, thanks for being partners on our journeys together. Student leaders that opened their hearts in our circles together, bless you and bless the benevolent teachers who believe in you.

Sixty-five is a watershed year I guess, and although I will be grateful for the discount at Dennys, I have no plans to loosen my grip on the paddle, pen or podium. I still have … Continue reading


In Moab, just off a 120-mile canoe trip down the Green River from the town of the same name to its confluence with the Colorado River. The Green was a tame river even at 15,000 cfs (floodstage). Not sure where it got the name “Green” as it was perhaps the siltiest river I have ever paddled, but because the river was so high there was no mud on the banks. The landings were dry. Submerged willows and deadheads in the swift, flood-swollen river convinced me to stay focused when landing the “Spirit of Quinn” my faithful Royalex Wenonah. The scenery is incredible, unworldly, magnificent. Towering sandstone cliffs and phallic hoodoos delighted me. A giant’s pallet could not hold all the hues of reddish brown, and at sunset the canyons dripped with changing colors. Side canyons made for stunning hikes. Because of the high water some of the slots could be … Continue reading