Neal Moore Completes U.S. Canoe Crossing

Today, long-distance canoeist Neal Moore completed his gargantuan 12,000km journey across the United States.

Moore took off from Manhattan’s Pier 84 boathouse for a final paddle to celebrate the end of his 22-month expedition. Friends from across the country gathered (and some even joined him on the water) to see him paddle around the Statue of Liberty.

Moore set off across America on February 9, 2020, when the world was a very different place. Originally, he planned to document the United States in the lead-up to the November 2020 election, writing stories and interviewing people as he went. COVID severely curtailed these plans. Eventually, as the country opened up, he was able to document those he met while weaving his way from state to state.

22 states, 22 rivers, 22 months

Moore crossed 22 states and paddled 22 rivers, so it’s poetic that he finishes after 22 months. His indirect route took him from Oregon in the west to the Gulf of Mexico in the south, north to the Great Lakes, and finally east to New York.

Moore’s 12,000km route. Photo: Neal Moore

 

His solo, continuous canoe expedition involved protracted periods on land, as he portaged his canoe from river to river. After the New York State Canal System closed on October 13, the approach to New York was particularly grueling.

“It was always going to be a schlep. The odyssey’s contorted route was selected to follow the seasons. To have the chance to be continuous, there would inevitably be places where one would need to heave-ho. And the Erie Canal was invariably going to be one of those places,” Moore wrote of his 270km portage.

In Albany, he was able to re-enter the water on the Hudson River. By December 10, he could see the Manhattan skyline.

A second try

Moore’s effort is made more remarkable when you consider that this was his second attempt. In 2018, he canoed roughly 3,000km before calling it quits in Watford City, North Dakota. Instead of restarting from there, he chose to redo the entire route.

Tranquil water in the Warren Slough, just off the Columbia River. Photo: Neal Moore

Martin Walsh is a freelance writer and wildlife photographer based in Da Lat, Vietnam. A history graduate from the University of Nottingham, Martin's career arc is something of a smörgåsbord. A largely unsuccessful basketball coach in Zimbabwe and the Indian Himalaya, a reluctant business lobbyist in London, and an interior design project manager in Saigon. He has been fortunate enough to see some of the world. Highlights include tracking tigers on foot in Nepal, white-water rafting the Nile, bumbling his way from London to Istanbul on a bicycle, feeding wild hyenas with his face in Ethiopia, and accidentally interviewing Hezbollah in Lebanon. His areas of expertise include adventure travel, hiking, wildlife, and half-forgotten early 2000s indie-rock bands.


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