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Couple completes 740-mile canoe trek

WAITSFIELD - The husband-and-wife team of Arden and Sherry Olson of Cumming, Ga., completed a 740-mile canoe journey, capping a speedy adventure that took more than three weeks in Vermont.

The Olsons set off on April 29 with their sights set on the St. John River in Fort Kent, Maine.

Their journey, across four states and into Canada, was a dream for the couple, who were re-tracing historic native paddling routes that comprise the Northern Forest Canoe Trail (NFCT).

They paddled through record flood waters on Lake Champlain between New York and Vermont and counted more days of rain than sun. But as Team Black Cat, the trail moniker that the couple adopted, posted on their blog when they arrived at the NFCT endpoint in Fort Kent: "Life is so good, I don't think we have laughed this much in years."

The husband-and-wife team spent 24 days on the trail, with 20 of those days paddling when conditions allowed.

At the other end of the trail, the Olsons were met by Carl Pelletier, owner of the Northern Door Inn in Fort Kent, Maine. He has welcomed some 30 through paddlers (individuals who have completed the entire 740-mile journey in one trip) since the first official through paddlers floated into Fort Kent in 2006.

In the Olsons' case, Pelletier ended up with more than just inspiration from their tales of adventure - he is now the proud owner of their slightly damaged canoe. Said Carl of the boat, "The old gal has a bright future."

The Northern Forest Canoe Trail follows historic native paddling routes on the rivers and lakes of northern New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, and the province of Qu bec.

The trail celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2010 and is the longest inland water trail in the United States. The trail serves as an inspiration for those with a passion for canoeing and kayaking and catalyzes rural economic growth by developing nature and heritage tourism opportunities in partnership with local small businesses.

Most paddlers approach the trail in sections, enjoying the wildlife viewing, fishing, hiking, and community events that can be enjoyed in the various rural destinations along the NFCT route.

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