Faith, family, and friends carry me to the finish line


On Tuesday, August 11, I paddled into Fort Kent on the St. John River, completing my solo through-paddle of the Northern Forest Canoe Trail in 53 days.


Yesterday, after a long (30.8 miles) and damp day, Dad and I passed under the international bridge on the St. John, reaching the eastern end of the NFCT. My GPS total reflected 749.7 miles.  With God’s grace, I had covered every mile unassisted.  It felt unbelievable.

I think my numb, white fingers and shivering self tempered some of the emotion of the moment, but I still felt ready to cry.  So many days of beauty, danger, kindness, and endurance were coming to an end.  A dream, that once seemed beyond all reach, would now become a treasured memory.

To all of you, who cheered me on and supported me in infinite ways, please know that you were with me in that special moment and you will always be part of the story of NFCT 2015 for me!

(I hope to write up the rest of the days, with many photos, while it is all fresh in my mind).

33 thoughts on “Faith, family, and friends carry me to the finish line

  1. Kathleen Maclachlan August 12, 2015 / 8:31 pm

    Thanks be to God! Congratulations, Laurie, on a job well done. The paddling is over (for now) but we know that what you’ve experienced, learned, and received will be a part of you forever. And what you’ve given to so many will be just as lasting – more of the many legacies of your faithful and faith-filled journey through life. Welcome back, my friend.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lachandler22 August 16, 2015 / 7:48 pm

      Kathy…you know me so well and you prayed me safely from Old Forge to Fort Kent, I know. Now, on to the writing, the sharing, and hopefully a visit with three dear friends (including one black furry one) soon!


  2. Janet Dempsey August 12, 2015 / 9:47 pm

    Congratulations, Laurie!! What an amazing feat! I can’t wait to see you and give you a welcome back hug! Time for some well deserved rest and relaxation and sleep in your own bed! 😊👏👏👏


    • lachandler22 August 16, 2015 / 7:46 pm

      Well, I got the hug (thanks!)…now for more of the rest before the summer ends. See you back at school!


  3. tricia August 12, 2015 / 10:25 pm

    Well done, Laurie. Loved following you. TrICIA


    • lachandler22 August 16, 2015 / 7:45 pm

      Loved reading all your comments, most faithful blog follower. See you before long at the grand celebration!


  4. Jan August 12, 2015 / 10:30 pm

    You are amazing! Hearty congratulations! I can’t wait to hear of some of your adventures in person.


    • lachandler22 August 16, 2015 / 7:44 pm

      And you will…hear more in person. See you back at school soon and, in the meantime, enjoy the last bit of summer!


  5. pkaurup August 12, 2015 / 11:48 pm

    Fantastic! I plan to use your blog entries when I do my next section paddle next year! Thanks!


    • lachandler22 August 16, 2015 / 7:42 pm

      Very glad that you will benefit from my experiences and please let me know if I can help any other way. All of your “likes” of my posts were very encouraging along the way…thanks!


  6. Arne Aho August 12, 2015 / 11:51 pm

    Laurie: Joy-filled congratulations! When Sigurd Olson completed his canoe trip across the Canadian Shield along the Churchill River (shorter than yours) he concluded with, ” I also knew there were some things that would never be dimmed by distance or time, compounded of values that would not be forgotten: the joy and challenge of the wilderness, the sense of being part of the country and of an era that was gone, the freedom we had known, silence, timelessness, beauty, companionship, and loyalty, and the feeling of fullness and completion that was ours at the end.” Laurie, we know from your journal that you have shared, if not exceeded, all these in your own quest! Arne and Nancy.


  7. Jill Rice August 13, 2015 / 4:33 am

    Congratulations, Laurie…what an awesome achievement! And so cool to include your dad where you could…I could only follow fully on weekends, but totally enjoyed hearing the tale…a bit of every element, of a great quest with a fulfilling ending. Sleep well!


    • lachandler22 August 16, 2015 / 7:40 pm

      Thanks, Jill, hope you found time for some wilderness paddling yourself this summer. Dad had his share of adventures – our last day together was the longest of my trip. Thanks for following along!


  8. Judy August 13, 2015 / 4:42 am

    How inspiring. Your heart and grit are phenomenal. Hope you now get some rest — the kind where you have plumbing nearby.


    • lachandler22 August 16, 2015 / 7:38 pm

      Not only plumbing, but lots of fresh food, and Megan and Jacob here for a week making it wonderful to be home again!


  9. Sonia August 13, 2015 / 11:14 am

    Such an accomplishment! I am truly amazed at your courage and strength. You are an inspiration!


    • lachandler22 August 16, 2015 / 7:37 pm

      Thanks, Sonia…I know I wouldn’t have the strength I do if not for my faith, friends, and family. Glad you were reading along.


  10. Sheryl Daiute August 13, 2015 / 12:21 pm

    Congratulations, Laurie!!! You are an amazing person – so honored to be in your sphere. Can’t wait to see you – home, safe and sound. What an accomplishment. WooHoo!!!!


    • lachandler22 August 16, 2015 / 7:35 pm

      Thanks for cheering me on from home and for believing in me. All my best to Eli as he recovers! Miss you all.


  11. Janet Leonard August 13, 2015 / 12:57 pm

    Congratulations, Laurie!!


  12. Dick W. August 13, 2015 / 9:25 pm

    What an extraordinary accomplishment! What a unique way to experience the daily, even moment-by-moment, presence of the Creator of self and the beautiful, challenging natural world through which you paddled and portaged. Thank you for sharing. Now give yourself a sabbath rest.


    • lachandler22 August 16, 2015 / 7:32 pm

      Dick, you’re the best and you surely share my faith that God is behind all of the awesomeness that I had the privilege to immerse myself in this summer. Thanks for being a part of the journey!


  13. Kathy August 13, 2015 / 10:59 pm

    Congratulations!! So glad you are home safely. You are definitely an inspiration to me. I hope to see you at the MCS next year for a full report


    • lachandler22 August 16, 2015 / 7:30 pm

      Thanks! I want to hear all about your summer paddling when we get a chance. And I will surely plan to be at MCS next year. Thanks for following along and for all the encouraging comments!


  14. Matthias August 14, 2015 / 3:55 pm

    Congrats Laurie! I really enjoyed following your NFCT adventure! !!


    • lachandler22 August 16, 2015 / 7:29 pm

      Thank you for reading along and commenting…everybody’s interest in my trip was a big encouragement!


  15. Ed E. August 15, 2015 / 3:11 pm

    Congratulations – so impressed with your accomplishment. I enjoyed following your trip online.


    • lachandler22 August 16, 2015 / 7:28 pm

      Thanks for following along, Ed, and for your help in choosing and purchasing my Wenonah Fusion, which was absolutely a great boat for this trip. Also very thankful that you are feeling better. We’ll be up to visit sometime soon.


  16. Mack August 17, 2015 / 1:28 pm


    Congratulations again….amazing job. I enjoyed looking for your daily SPOT and following your journal. Do you know everyone or is it just my imagination! You had and discovered some great hosts along the trail. I give you kudos for your planning, dedication and execution, you sure have my respect We have now both become a part of history for the year of 2015. Welcome home.


    • lachandler22 August 20, 2015 / 8:00 pm

      It’s mutual respect for sure. I am still in awe of your training, planning, and the speed with which you met all the hurdles. Once life quiets down, I plan to reread your journal all the way through, now that I have been to all the places. Hooray for the Class of 2015!


  17. Marji Aveson August 30, 2015 / 2:50 am

    Glad you made it Laurie.What an experience. I am tempted to try it from the beginning next summer. Sydney and I ended our trip once we got the ride from Scottie into Jackman. Our friends took us to their cabin on Moosehead Lake for the night.


    • lachandler22 August 30, 2015 / 7:57 pm

      Marji, so good to hear from you. I sent Syd a friend request on Facebook and it looked as though she hoped to continue on solo. I didn’t make it to Jackman that night, I was just too exhausted, there were thunderstorms, and it would have been another few miles. Looked for you at the campground the next morning when I arrived, though. Anyway, you would love doing the entire trail, I know, and now have lots of knowledge to bring to the planning process. Hope to see you both on the river again!


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