For decades, Red Bank Catholic High School students have had the privilege of learning from Phys Ed teacher and RBC alumnus Mr. John Mautner (RBC ’65). They have come to know him as a genuine example of physical fitness and healthy living. True to that lifestyle, it was only days after school ended last June that he packed up his gear and headed to Old Forge, NY where he embarked on a solo journey to paddle through the 740-mile long Northern Forest Canoe Trail.
The trail, which revisits the traditional east-west route used by Native Americans and early settlers in the Northern Forest Region, begins in Old Forge, NY, travels through Lake Champlain, Vermont, Quebec, New Hampshire, and ends in Fort Kent, Maine. The preeminent water trail incorporates 22 rivers and streams, 58 lakes and ponds and 63 “portages” or trails travelers use to carry canoes to the next waterway. Mr. Mautner completed the journey in 36 days.
Each day began around 6:00 am and, after making breakfast and packing up his tent, he would begin the day’s travels. Mr. Mautner says he “covered a distance of 12 to 40 miles per day. Each day was original due to weather, topography and especially the necessary portages.”
He talks about the portages, explaining that “most were short, providing me with a safe way to avoid hazards such as dams, rapids and waterfalls. Some longer portages connecting watersheds occasionally followed roads and allowed me to strap the canoe to a wheeled cart and pull it behind me. My longest portage of the Trail was the six mile Grand Portage in Quebec.”
The day Mr. Mautner trekked the Grand Portage was the day he “completed the final 12 miles of upstream paddling on the Missisquoi River, completed the Grand Portage, and paddled south on Lake Memphremagog to Newport, Vermont and the required US Customs check." He adds, “It was a long 30 mile day, rewarded with a restaurant dinner.”
Mr. Mautner says “I was thrilled to have experienced the scenic beauty, history and daily routine of exploration that the trip provided. I look forward to sharing the story with my students this fall.”