Shaking it down, the final packing list, making decisions...
Way too much stuff!
I'll be paddling for 8 weeks and traveling almost 1,800 miles; that means I need LOTS OF STUFF, correct!? Clearly, I'm a product of western civilization as I have well over a hundred items on my packing list and all of them are absolutely critical 😂. Then again, Grandma Gatewood hiked the Appalachian trail three times carrying her required essentials in a pillow case! Last weekend's activity was to dump all my gear out on the living room floor and toss out what I don't need. Unfortunately, the discard pile ended up being woefully small. I just have TOO MUCH STUFF!
Where will I sit!?
After repacking my bags I went about the task of seeing how it will ride in the canoe. I quickly deduced what's already been said, too much stuff. The problem is my original intention to carry my entire eight week supply of food instead of doing a food pickup halfway through the trip. If I stick to that plan my boat will be overloaded on the upper Montana stretch of the river above the Missouri Breaks. An overloaded canoe going through rapids is hard to control, even in minor ones. Thus, I've made the decision to mail month two of my food bill to Washburn, North Dakota, for pickup when I pass through. I don't, however, like the idea of trying to time my food rations, especially if I get wind bound on Lake Sakakawea but that's how she rolls sometimes.
Thus, the current plan is to carry five weeks of food and ship the remaining to North Dakota. The trip from Three Forks, MT, to Washburn, ND, should be about 30 days (assuming a travel rate of 30 miles/day) which will give me an extra week of food before the pickup. Carrying all of my supplies would have been much simpler but now I'll be back to the streamlined packing profile I had 10 years ago on my Lower Missouri River trip. Each day that passes on the river makes the food bag a bit lighter and the paddler (me!) a bit more trimmed and efficient. It's a good tradeoff in the end.
And in case you're wondering, here's my complete packing list. I developed it for my last big mileage trip using a couple of resources including Cliff Jacobson's book Expedition Canoeingand my own experience over the last few decades of outdoor travel. Enjoy reading!