I write to simply praise you and thank you for your roll in leading our extended family canoe trip down the St. Croix. As the family patriarch, I wanted a trip that would bring together my wife and me, our two daughters, their husbands, and four 12 year old grandchild in a sustained and memorable adventure in the Maine Wilderness. You delivered so beautifully on every count, from trip preparation and logistics, to your ongoing paddling skills workshops, and on to your fantastic cooking, and constant encouragements as our paddling skills grew in the course of our four days. The entire family begs for an encore in 2017! What I especially value is your consummate professionalism as a trip leader. It was really sweet for Linda and me to see our grandchildren appreciate and respect all you did to make our trip successful. They witnessed an adult professional at the peak of his capacity and they all rightfully consider you a truly heroic person. At the same time, they know and express how much by way of skills they have learned from you. So from the bottom of my heart, thank you. RF 2016
You guys are simply wonderful. Your expertise, good nature, organization, and incredibly hard work made the trip such a pleasure from start to finish. I feel so lucky to have happened upon you on the Internet, when I came up with the half formed idea that I wanted to go canoe camping in Maine. What you offered and provided was so much more than “somehow or another.” Your respect for and acceptance of all the realities of the conditions meant that you made an experience that required an enormous amount of work seem effortless. The depth of your knowledge on the Allagash allowed you to turn an unpredictable group of adventurers into a collaborative troop so we could all interact with the river and edges in a joyous way. Tradition and history were present at every moment, as well as the freshness of each day in the wilderness. It certainly didn't hurt to have perfect weather conditions, but I have a feeling you would have made it a profoundly wonderful experience no matter what the heavens decided to do. — DK 2015
All three of my siblings and I have gone on one or more of the Allagash Canoe trips; this in itself speaks to the success of the trip. Chip and Lani are great leaders; they are both incredibly experienced, kind, and fun-loving. One of my favorite memories from my trips with Chip and Lani is making ice cream. We dragged an ice-cream machine along with us for the entire trip, with the hope of finding ice in a deep cave that Chip and Lani knew from years past. The less claustrophobic members of the group descended into the cave, and forty minutes later, after crawling and winding ourselves through various tunnels, we emerged with a bag full of ice. Later that evening I had the best maple syrup ice cream of my life, even though it had been made with powdered milk. Aside from friendships formed and memories made, these canoe trips provide a truly unique experience; never have I before or since been exposed to such incredible wilderness. Out of both trips, we saw maybe two other parties—loons, moose, and black bear more frequently confronted us. I credit these trips in influencing my decision to concentrate in environmental and earth studies in college, as I intend to help maintain the wonderful resources of this earth, like the Allagash River. —Johann Colloredo
My family and I have had three incredibly memorable and distinctly wonderful canoe trips with Chip and Lani over the last 10 years. We have paddled the Allagash Wilderness 7-day trip twice (both with my octogenarian father!) and recently, with my 15-year-old son, enjoyed a three-day whitewater trip down the St. Croix River.
Each trip has been unique and rich in memories and enjoyment because of the great care, devotion, experience, and passion for canoeing and guiding that Chip and Lani bring to their trips. They make canoeing easy for the novice and exciting for the experienced and know how to craft a trip for every range of skills. They make every meal seem spontaneous, fulfilling, and delightful because they know their craft and can easily adapt or tailor their work to customers’ needs.
At Carrabassett Valley Academy we love to provide our students with experiences that open their eyes to the beauty of Maine, the comradery of friends and the fun of adventure. For 20 years, Allagash Canoe Trips has done just that. Every fall Chip and Lani have lead our senior class on a 3-day trip in the Moosehead Region. It is a wonderful orientation tradition that the students really look forward to. The collective experience of canoeing, camping, swimming, and hiking builds confidence in each student and builds a strong class bond. But most importantly, the kids have FUN! Congratulations on the 60th Anniversary—CVA is so lucky that for 20 years Allagash Canoe Trips has been woven into the fabric of CVA! —Kate Webber Punderson, Head of School, Carrabassett Valley Academy
Katherine and family 2012: This was our first trip as a family doing a wilderness trip. Our kids are 5, 7 and 10 and none of them had ever canoed longer than an hour. We canoed for three days down the St. Croix River on the border of Maine and New Brunswick. Lani and her daughter made us feel as great hands. We learned how to white water canoe in three short days, chop wood, and brave mosquitos at sunset. It was perfect for our family—hard enough to feel the joy of achieving something by the end and easy enough to have fun! We all appreciated Lani's quiet but flexible outlook on life, and easy-going nature, and great food, too. I highly recommend this outfitter for any family! — Katherine
Six Days on the River with 25 Fourteen Year Olds and Two Amazing Guides!
My eighth grade class was privileged to canoe part of the West Branch of the Penobscot River for six days one late May with Allagash Canoe Trips and Chip and Lani as our leaders. Cool gray weather accompanied us the whole way, as we paddled many hours each day through some of Maine's beautiful wilderness—in the steps of Thoreau—though with singing and chattering of young teens the moose kept out of sight! Throughout the trip, Chip and Lani's incredible knowledge and ability to plan and lead outdoor adventures for this age was evident. The food (very important for happy, energetic paddlers) was gourmet—morning breakfast cakes, evening steaks and fresh bread and pizza all cooked over open fires met with rave reviews and four years later is still talked about! Chip and Lani knew intuitively how to focus and energize the students—with safety fundamental but many humorous moments to lighten the many strokes. They wove in the natural and human history of the area and one wet cold evening built a sauna, as we camped on an island, and turned what could have been many grumbly teens into another (warm) adventure. From the moment Chip and Lani meet the students with an excellent orientation to canoe camping to the final climb up ???? to view the area we had just canoed and every moment in between—this trip rated as “the best ever” from every eighth grader! As their teacher I too voted for this—as the most enjoyable safe, well prepared, trouble-free trip I had ever done with a class! I highly recommend Allagash Canoe Trips and Chip and Lani to any middle and high school teacher who wants an authentic wilderness challenge that is also great fun for the students.
Six days on the Allagash River August 2012.
60 years and three generations of experience guiding canoe trips on rivers in northern Maine was evident to me in every aspect of my trip. Details…all the little details were covered and I could sense a deep foundation of experience; the kind that cannot be gained without extended and repeated time on the rivers. The Allagash Wilderness Waterway is naturally a magical place of fabulous scenery, forest smells, special wildlife, and watery adventure. While Chip and Lani cannot take credit for creating such a beautiful place, they are pros at helping their guests experience it all to the fullest.
Pre-trip communications with Chip and Lani? Smooth and comprehensive. By following their packing list I had everything I needed yet not a bunch of extra stuff I never used.
Logistic of transportation? Covered without a glitch.
Permits along the way? Never had to give that a single thought.
Quality of the equipment? Excellent and trouble free. All I had to provide was my own sleeping bag and pad. I loved the Old Town Discovery canoe and it's "forgiveness” when a novice like me had trouble avoiding obstacles in the river. Chip’s canoeing instructions were quite easy to grasp, he gave plenty of time for practicing prior to our first rapids. He never seemed to sweat the mistakes that a beginner is prone to make and only encouraged us.
Daily schedule? Very relaxed. Each day of paddling started about 8:00 am and finished between 1:00 and 3:00 in the afternoon with breaks along the river for snacks and lunch. Plenty of time remained in the afternoons and evenings for swimming, exploring, extra canoeing, reading, napping or animal watching.
Leadership? I never felt a sense of “overbearing” from Chip or a “short leash” on movements or activities; lots of freedom but with the constant knowledge that Chip was watching from afar for anything that might be unsafe. Chip was able to share valuable information on the history of the Allagash and on the animals we were encountering. I got the sense that Chip knew every rock, and every eddy and every turn in the river like the back of his hand. Although we were most of the time miles from any civilization Chip had a creditable plan to handle any emergencies that might occur on the river, which bolstered my trust in him.
Food? Amazing. Chip would gather firewood, cut the wood, split the wood, build a nice fire, cook all the food and then wash all the pots and pans. Never was there a shortage of ANY food, in fact, there was always extra. It was amazing to me that we would have fresh baked goods almost every breakfast and dinner. Blueberry muffins, banana bread, carrot cake, raisin bread, strawberry shortcake, and Italian bread are some I remember. We enjoyed wonderful pancakes with real maple syrup, 7 and 12 whole-grain hot cereals, BBQ steaks, chicken, and sausage. It is so hard to accurately describe how wonderful the meals were, but don't take my word for it, come and see for yourself.
In short, I'm planning on returning to the Allagash in the future and the Allagash Canoe Trips will be my choice.
—Happy 60th birthday Allagash Canoe Trips. Jon Mills, Menifee California
I just wanted to thank you for the brilliant trip you organized for me, Fiona and our two children on the St. Croix this July. As you know, we decided to visit Maine from the UK so as to have some wilderness adventure. You delivered it.
When I first contacted you, I explained how my wife and children were all enthusiastic novices and you listened to that and arranged a trip which was suitable. On top of that you managed to group us with 2 other families so we ended up with 5 children aged 11 to 14; that was a master stroke.
I have various memories of the trip of which the highlights must be;
The food—whether it was fresh bread rolls, amazing chicken, superb breakfasts; it was exactly what your website has hinted at. I still don't know how you managed to do it.
The canoeing—somehow you managed to educate us so that on days 2, 3 and 4 we were shooting rapids and getting a real buzz from it. As you know, Fiona was nervous about it to start with, but you coaxed her to overcome those nerves. She particularly liked the grade 3 rapids and has since been comparing them to Niagara!
The company—every evening was so relaxing as the adults sat around reading books with a glass or wine or a beer whilst the children played cards, went swimming and generally ran the show (something like The Lord of the Flies).
I can well see why the business has lasted so long and one year we will be back for the Allagash!
Thanks again. Richard Leeming (Bristol, England)
(2011) Lani and Chip,
I finally got caught up with everything after our trip and weathered the hurricane so I just wanted to take a moment to tell you how much the Troop enjoyed our adventure on the Allagash.
Of course the scenery was beautiful and being on the river was very peaceful as well as challenging and exciting in the fast stuff. But what really made the trip great was having Chip guide us through the adventure.
Starting with paddling, working on the right strokes for different situations, and continuing to coach those of us who needed it all along the trip, also stopping and guiding us through the faster sections to make sure we all got through safely and had fun doing it really helped make all of us better and more confident paddlers. For those who wanted to try, poling was a whole other experience to be explored.
And the food, right from the first night in camp though the last, the meals were terrific. It is amazing what came off of the open fire, from the reflector oven and out of the wannigans, all fresh, healthy, cooked to perfection and plenty of it. The different grain oatmeal itself was a treat each morning, in addition to the rest of the breakfast—regular oatmeal will never live up to Chip's multi-grains. By using the same cooking techniques passed down through generations, at every meal I felt like we were going back in time to how exploring the river was years ago, a nice feeling of nostalgia that I never thought I'd get to experience.
Most of all Chip, I appreciate the environment that you created on the trip: it was relaxed yet everyone had responsibility and accountability not only for themselves but for everyone else on the trip; that there were new things to be learned and tried at every corner; to appreciate all that was around us and most of all to have fun. I know that the boys all got different things out of the experience; some reveled in the opportunity just to be there and try new things and you were willing and able to guide them to new levels. Others really had to get out of their comfort zones at times and you were able to provide the coaching and motivating they needed to build their confidence. Just seeing how camp went up and came down between the first and last night, or how packing up the boats progressed through the week shows how much everyone grew not only in their outdoor skills but also in how they learned to work together and stayed focused to get a task done. By really guiding and coaching us through and being a role model in an environment that you know so well I think helped all of us get the most out the time we spent on the river.
Lani, thank you for all of your hard work in helping to put the trip together. I know I had a lot of questions and I really appreciate all of the back and forth communication in setting everything up, it all went exactly as you said it would.
Again, thanks to both of you for a wonderful experience on the Allagash, we all have great memories from the trip. I hope that we have the opportunity for other river adventures together. Jim and Troop 76
Gail & Jay 2007: We cannot imagine a more perfect time. Everything you did to organize us, decisions made along the way and constant daily care were accomplished with apparent ease and with such skill. We feel privileged to have shared those places and experiences with you! We have been singing the praises of your guiding service since returning home. This is the first vacation in a long time that felt like a truly relaxing getaway for our family. No phones...no emails. Just pristine wilderness, great exercise, scrumptious food, moose, moose, and more moose. We came back feeling healthy and fit, and can still conjure up that feeling of tranquility that only nature can bring. Thanks for a superb trip!