There once was a man from Nantucket
Whose canoe was so big that he trucked it.
When he went on a cruise
It held so much booze
He needed his pals to help chug it.
Okay seriously friends, we need to have a discussion about canoeing and beer.
Sure, it's nice to have a few cool ones on a warm day, and the campfire in the evening is a cheery place to share a nip or two. A cold beer definitely has its place on a canoe trip.
But anyone who has done any fair amount of canoe tripping has seen other paddlers inebriated to the point that they're a hazard to themselves and others. Lest you think I'm so noble, yes, I have been there myself.
I won't elaborate, no need to incriminate myself. Thankfully, I made it down the river in one piece, and so did my buddies. Maybe I'll reveal my adventures in greater detail around a campfire with you some evening.
I've seen boats loaded with the barrels used to ship orange juice concentrate, full of beer and ice, waddle down the Miramichi. Not just one boat in the crew, either, two or three boats in the flotilla were topped up in this manner.
There was a young fella named Sonny who parked his canoe just downstream of Big Louie, the first rapid paddlers encounter on the Miramichi. He had a big net on a pole meant for salmon fishing, and he'd snag any full cans of beer if they slipped out of a boat that swamped in the ledges. He'd make a pretty penny selling them back to the thirsty trippers. Tie it in, boys!
Sometimes it can't be helped. I remember once when Biff and I went on a four-day float-and-fish trip down the Cains. We took four flats, in case it got really hot on the river. As we were pulling out of the driveway, Biff's brother called out, “Happy Birthday, Biff!” and tossed four more flats into the back of the truck. Our shuttle driver was sure we were planning on meeting someone else, as he helped us pile our “provisions” into the boat.
Yes, we did catch some trout on that trip, and they were mighty tasty, too.
On the other hand, you don't want to take too few beer, either. On a recent six-day trip on the Nepisiguit, we found ourselves snowed and rained in camp a full day until the weather cleared. We thought we had enough beer, and fresh water too, but that full day in camp put a tremendous dent in our supplies.
The next three days down to Bathurst were blisterin' hot, and we had nothing to drink, neither water nor beer for the last three days' travel. We had a water filter that resembled a giant crayon, with activated charcoal as a filter, and we were swigging river water constantly.
It was no surprise that Hal got beaver fever when he got back to Boston, and lost so much weight he shriveled up like a raisin. Beer would have been good in this situation, lemmetellya.
Next time, we're gonna plant a stash halfway down the river, no worries then man.
On one memorable Miramichi trip, we thought we had the perfect solution for warm beer. Usually, ice never lasts more than a day on the river, and not only do you have warm beer after the thaw, but you start to worry about those steaks and any other perishables in your cooler as well.
So we froze our cans of beer rock-hard before we left, all except for a few, and thought we were golden. But a cold wind blew up the river on that trip, and it never really got warm at all that long weekend.
So when we got to party central at the Trout Brook campsite, our cans of beer were still full of slush. We couldn't even give it away. Since we had to drive our vehicles the next day, we ended up bringing most of our beer back home intact. Our loving wives thought we must have been rather unwell on the river when they watched us unload it all into our beer fridges at home.
Maybe it's the only exception for Fang's Law: You can never have too much beer. You can have enough, or not enough, but never too much. Just don't drink too much.
Don't Grab those Branches!
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