The Timeless Journey: Unveiling the Coleman Canoe 15

Imagine embarking on an unforgettable adventure, setting forth on the mighty Mississippi River, with only your trusty canoe as your companion. That was precisely the case for me when I purchased the 15-foot Coleman Ram-X canoe in anticipation of my Source-to-Sea voyage back in 1980. Today, as I reflect on those memories, I find solace in knowing that this remarkable canoe continues to be cherished and utilized by others.

A Legacy of Exploration

My canoe’s journey continues, even though it is no longer in my possession. Several years ago, I entrusted it to my brother Mike, who, together with his wife Julie, took their children on their maiden canoeing adventures in Payette Lake, McCall, Idaho. Witnessing my canoe becoming part of their family’s joyous experiences was heartwarming, and it brought me immense satisfaction.

But as time passed, Mike’s family transitioned to kayaking, leaving the canoe longing for new horizons. Through mutual agreement, Mike decided to pass on the legacy of our canoe to his nephew, Neal. And so, the story of the canoe continues.

A Journey Through Generations

I couldn’t be more pleased knowing that Neal and his sons recently embarked on a fishing expedition at Lucky Peak Reservoir near Boise, Idaho, using the very same canoe that once accompanied me on the Mississippi River. It warms my heart to see them carrying on the tradition of exploring the great outdoors together, nurturing a love for nature and adventure in the next generation.

Further reading:  The Art of Sliding: Exploring the World of Rowing Canoes

Unveiling the Canoe’s Beginnings

Let’s rewind the clock to June 7, 1980, when my dear friend Andy Michalicek christened the canoe with the name “Dunderhead.” We stood at the humble beginnings of the Mississippi River, in the tiny creek flowing out of Lake Itasca, Minnesota. With a promising journey ahead, I embarked on a months-long quest to paddle from the source to the ocean, accompanied by an incredible support network of friends and family.

From Iowa State roommates to my sister Karla Pantenburg Moore and friend Alan Johnson, each person played a vital role in the initial stages of the journey. Eventually, as the miles unfolded, it became a solo adventure, with only the silent companionship of Dunderhead as I weaved my way through the sprawling riverine highways.

A Bond Beyond Material

My fondness for Dunderhead extends far beyond the material itself. I meticulously selected this 15-foot beauty from J.C. Penney’s in Ames, Iowa, eager to venture into the summer heat of the Mississippi River with something other than aluminum. Dunderhead was crafted from a revolutionary new material called Ram-X 2, a blend of Kevlar and fiberglass. I believed this innovation would mitigate the sweltering temperatures, surpassing the limitations of aluminum canoes.

Dunderhead was more than just a vessel for exploration; it became an integral part of my life’s essence. Prior to embarking on the Mississippi River, it graced the serene rivers of Iowa on numerous occasions. After completing the Source-to-Sea voyage, the canoe ventured through the picturesque landscapes of Idaho, Oregon, and Mississippi, weathering diverse climates and terrains.

Stories Etched in Every Paddle Stroke

Oh, the stories this canoe could tell! It has withstood blazing heat on arid desert rivers, navigated through snowstorms on the Upper Iowa River, and even braved the tumultuous Clarno Rapids on Oregon’s John Day River. Dunderhead provided shelter during torrential rainstorms and served as a safe haven during a perilous encounter with a tornado below St. Paul. Together, we defied conventions by rowing through the port of New Orleans under the cover of darkness (a decision I now look back on with a mix of cautionary wisdom and mischief).

Further reading:  Canoes in the Ocean: Exploring the Possibilities

A Canoe’s Continuing Legacy

Some objects transcend their material worth. The true value lies in the stories they carry and the memories they create. I am incredibly grateful and delighted that Dunderhead, the canoe that has weathered storms and navigated rivers, has now found its rightful place within a new family. It warms my heart to witness the canoe taking on a new role as a vessel for familial bonding and adventure.

As I reflect on the timeless journey of the Coleman Canoe 15, I am filled with a sense of appreciation and nostalgia. The photographs embedded in this article provide a glimpse into the remarkable voyage that Dunderhead and I embarked upon. Take a moment to immerse yourself in the captivating imagery, reminding us all of the unparalleled beauty found within nature’s embrace.

Remember, good gear is an investment, and the adventures it carries become an enduring legacy. If you too seek memorable journeys, let these stories inspire you to explore the great outdoors with an unwavering spirit of discovery.

For more incredible outdoor experiences, visit UpStreamPaddle.

Images and Videos

Bushcraft Basics