Now that you’ve been on several float trips, have minimized the number of tip-overs, and have traveled the same five or ten miles of the river over and over again, it’s time to up the ante. It’s time to challenge yourself and make the river fresh again.
One way of accomplishing this is to do a multi-day trip in which you have to camp out along the way. Start small with an overnight float trip and work your way up to lengthier trips camping out several days along the way. A twenty mile trip is a good place to start. Do ten or twelve miles the first day, camp out and finish the rest of the trip on the second.
One of the most difficult parts of an overnight camp out by way of canoe is the preparation. Everything you need has to be carried in, and since a canoe has only so much room, paring it down to the basics may be difficult. Items that can be used in a multitude of ways is your best bet. An example of this is don’t pack lawn chairs. Instead, use your cooler has a seat. There’s no need for a lot of cooking utensils if you go with food on a stick. Hot dogs, marshmallows, and s’mores are good camping foods. If you’re like me and a day cannot begin without coffee, a folding grill over a campfire acts as a stove so you can percolate your morning brew. One skillet meals can also be cooked this way. Be a minimalist, but don’t starve. Where’s the fun in that?
A two man pop up tent packs small and is plenty big enough for an overnight stay. Wrap sleeping bags in the ground tarp and then with two trash bags for added protection against getting wet. There’s nothing worse or heavier than a wet sleeping bag. If you’re only staying one night, use the extra plastic bag for trash the next day since it won’t matter if the sleeping bag gets damp or wet then. Always take your trash with you and leave the river area cleaner than you found it.
Wherever you decide to place your campsite, add another three or four feet from the river to that distance. Floating rivers tend to raise quickly from rain storms upstream. You don’t want to wake up in the river the next morning. For the same reason, pull your canoe totally out of the river onto the gravel or sand bar. In addition, tie it to a tree with a length of rope to prevent getting stranded.
If the idea of an overnight camp out sounds fun, but the preparation does not, contact one of the many canoe rental businesses to see if they offer overnight camping setups. Let them do the work of pitching camp while you enjoy paddling down the river. When you arrive at a pre-designated location, everything will be ready and waiting.
Catch your dinner while floating, cook it over a bed of hot coals at the campsite, and enjoy the beauty, peace, and freedom of a camping on the river.