Canoers’ journey to the Gulf starts in Boone

By Derek Halsey (

Article Published: Dec. 12, 2013 | Modified: Dec. 12, 2013
Canoers’ journey to the Gulf starts in Boone

Clark Chapman and Ned Savage are aiming to reach New Orleans by New Year’s Eve — via canoe.

Photo by Dave Lavender

Adventurers Clark Chapman and Ned Savage picked an interesting time of year to canoe through the Appalachian Mountains, through the Midwest and down to the Gulf of Mexico.

Traveling along the mighty Ohio River, the duo’s goal is to turn south on the Mississippi River and make their way to New Orleans by New Year’s Eve.

Despite the cold winds, rain and snow, Chapman and Savage are prepared with the proper gear and are cheerful in all weather. Their goal is not only to experience the adventure, but to retrace the rivers that their families have lived on or near for centuries and to bring awareness to the beauty of this country, its history and its waterways in an increasingly distracted digital age.

Chapman, who is from Ohio, and Clark, who is from Virginia, began their trip on the New River not far from Boone near the town of Todd. That part of the New River turned out to be one of the most impressive parts of their journey.

“We looked at leaving from Brookshire Park in Boone, but the water was just a little too low,” Chapman said in an interview with The Mountain Times, prior to Thanksgiving. “We could have done it, but we would have been getting out and dragging the canoe for a hundred yards. So, we ended up going 12 miles downriver to Green Valley Park near Todd, where the river was a little bit broader. That part of the river was beautiful and pristine. That’s all I have to say about the North Carolina part of the trip. Not that the West Virginia part of the New River isn’t beautiful. But we got a real sense of how pristine and clean the river is there in comparison to where we are in Ohio.

“One can also find a real wilderness feel out there, too. There are sections, especially when you are coming through New River State Park, where you know there has been civilization there for a long time, but you don’t really feel it. Every once in a while, you would pass a really old wood-framed house and a gristmill from 1775 that is not being maintained by any standard. We passed that stuff and still felt that we were disconnected from society. I can’t recommend that part of the river enough.”

Savage also enjoyed his trip on the New River through this part of the world, which began on Oct. 14.

“Starting out around Boone, as folks down there hopefully know and take advantage of, it is gorgeous,” Savage said. “It was when the leaves were at their peak. It is gorgeous country. As the river has gotten bigger and widened out, we’ve seen a whole bevy of beautiful things. The New River Gorge was spectacular, through and through. We’ve seen some cool wildlife. We’ve seen otters and a bunch of bald eagles. We saw a bald eagle fighting a heron, fighting over a fish we think. That was pretty sweet. It was first thing in the morning when we woke up along the Virginia-West Virginia line. We saw some bald eagles right before we went to bed and woke up to one of them attacking this heron. We’ve also seen a lot of turkey and deer, but less so now. We started out in a lot of wilderness but have sort of made our way into more of the industrial corridors here.”

You can follow their adventure online at

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