The Beginning

In the spring of 2009 the universe was, I felt, not nudging me to “perhaps” change but instead shoving me off a cliff. I was about to turn 50 and had just gone through a divorce after almost 30 years of marriage. Both children were grown, one out of the nest, the other poised to take off. When I was laid off from a job I loved and had sustained me for 10 years, it was time to fall or fly. I decided to paddle, alone.

This is an online accounting of my two month journey along The Northern Forest Canoe Trail, 740 miles on historic waterways following travel routes used by Native Americans, First Nations, and early European settlers.

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5 Responses to The Beginning

  1. David Shwide says:

    ps…saw you were from NJ….we canceled our Saranac trip last week because of ice but we went back to paddle the Mullica River in your state, BEAUTIFUL! Stayed for 2 nights 3 days, enjoyed the peace and quiet, minue the coyote howls…

    • Always defending NJ…so much of her is beautiful, the Garden State. I grew up on a beautiful little lake here.
      Thanks for the observation! Now I will have to check out the Mullica.

  2. Cyndi Hart says:

    Looking forward to reading about your journey. Starting at, where else? “The Beginning”.

  3. Sara Ziegler says:

    Hi Cathy,
    My name is Sara and I’m 19, also a NJ native. I just found out about the NFCT today and I’ve been reading about it for hours and hours. I’ve ordered the book “Paddling Through History” and I’ve decided that I definitely want to do it sometime in the next 5 years, perhaps with my dad and/or cousin Joe(an appalachian trail thru-hiker). I just want to let you know that your blog has really inspired me…I think it’s awesome that you’re the first solo woman kayaker to do it! I’ve been kayaking since I was maybe 10 years old and I’ve been on many overnight kayak trips. I have a lot of experience with camping and backpacking and all things outdoors, I’m very physically fit, but I have little experience with rapids. This is my number one concern. Do you think that this will be a major set-back? Do you have any recommended places around NJ to gain experience with rapids? I really don’t know much about them. Thank you for your blog, you’re truly an inspiration.

    PS the Mullica River is great!

    • Hi Sara,
      So glad you were inspired by the blog! To answer you question about rapids….I am pretty comfortable in Class #1, 2, 3 rapids and had about 4 years of white water experience prior to the journey. Because I was alone I never attempted challenging rapids, anything over Class 2. The Guidebook and the maps accurately let me know when to expect rapids and how to avoid them. There were one or two spots that were difficult to portage around but not impossible. That being said I was very glad I had some white water experience. I learned in TN but here in the NJ area The Leigh (spelling may be wrong) River in PA near the town of Jim Thorpe, is lots of fun, challenging but not too hard, Class 2 to 3, fun in a boat that is not too long and can handle rocks.
      I do hope you take the trip, it was beautiful and awe inspiring.

      Feel free to contact me with any additional questions.
      Most sincerely,

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