Posted by: cooper316 on Jan-25-13 12:36 PM (EST)
Kdaanen here. Yes we put a hole in the kevlar on the Catherine Street ledges on the Saranac River at the end of a long tiring day. I was able to patch it and finished the rest of the trail without any other issues. I added skid plates to the bow and stern before I left, which I think, helped immensely (at least peace of mind.) There were two river sections I did not paddle due to low water which may have been a problem for kelvar--both extremely rocky--the lower Nulhegan and the S. Branch of the Dead River. I wasn't ever going to do any rapids over Class II. The ones on the Allagash and St. John weren't a problem and I paddled the Androscoggin downstream instead of upstream and rode all the rapids on that stretch without any problems. My friend's sons were with us that day in a rental royalex got hung up once. There is no one perfect boat for the entire trail. A royalex does seem like the best option, but I wasn't up for the portaging all that added weight.
Kevlar handled the beaver dams fine. Also displaces less water so we could actually skim over some pretty scratchy river sections. The hull is scratched up, but I'd rather have it be used than look pretty.
As far as wheels go, as long as you don't try to use them on every single portage and beat the crap out of them, you can find a model that will work for any boat. The kayak style 7" pneumatic wheels worked well for me, but I primarily only used them on roads and carried gear bags vs. lugging them in the canoe. Do NOT consider a stern cart. It won't get out of the Saranacs, much less NY, in one piece.
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