An Expedition to Inspire Outdoor Desire

According to the EPA, Americans spend 93% of their lives indoors. Half of those waking hours are spent parked—8 hours a day—staring at a screen. 

This information comes at a time when a growing body of evidence confirms the physical and mental health benefits that come from communing with nature. And further research suggests that time outdoors also has a profound effect on the personal sense of stewardship for our natural resources that stands as our best hope for saving the planet. Such knowledge should serve as a wake-up call for anyone who’s ever stared into the night sky and yearned for a deeper connection to the world beyond ourselves.

John Connelly - PaddleQuest 1500

My name is John Connelly, and I have decided to answer that call. In April of 2016, I’ll launch on a 75-day river/ocean odyssey that will carry me over 2 countries, 4 states, 22 streams, 58 lakes, and 1500 miles. As leader of L.L.Bean’s Outdoor Discovery School for 10 years and a former member of the US Canoe & Kayak team with numerous whitewater first-descents to my credit, I believe I am uniquely qualified to meet this challenge.

I invite you to contribute to a trip dedicated to raising awareness of the mental, physical, and spiritual renewal that awaits those who embrace outdoor adventure of any kind. Your support will support an expedition that will also earn the distinction of being the first to link The Northern Forest Canoe Trail, Saint John River, Bay of Fundy and Maine Island Trail—with the goal of garnering increased support for the organizations that maintain these worldclass water trails.

Join Me!

I plan blogging daily with details of the day’s high-points and low-points. I will be posting photos and videos, as well. With supporting technology from DeLorme, my journey can be followed in real-time online. I will encourage followers and friends to stop by my route to wish me well or to wet a paddle and join-in for a stretch. Follow me on Instagram as I prepare at #connellyoutdoors.

After the Expedition

Upon completion, I plan a film and a book about my journey. With a schedule of talks and presentations, I hope to inspire even more people, including young people, to participate in canoeing, kayaking and the outdoors generally. I hope to get them excited and motivated to get out there living their own adventures!

How Money Will Be Used

The primary source of funding for this expedition is from like-minded people like you; people who appreciate the outdoors and value our wild resources. Funds will be used for acquiring specialized high performance expedition boats, camping and other equipment, food, logistics and all expenses required for the expedition.

Timing of Funding

As soon as the ice clears the waterways of New York’s Adirondack Mountains in April, I will begin. This means that I need funding as soon as possible to acquire specialized boats and equipment. Training in these boats over the winter will be important. Meeting the funding goal early will allow me to focus on preparations, training and the logistics of food and supply drops, etc.

What This Means to Me

Your support and the opportunity for successful completion of this expedition mean the world to me. I want to make a difference in the world by getting people outdoors to appreciate the incredible, wild resources available to them. I want people to enjoy the benefits and pay it back by conserving and stewarding our resources for generations to come. This adventure is one more thing I can do toward that end.

For me, this is a physical and mental challenge; an adventure of epic proportions living out of my boat experiencing wild rivers, the volatile ocean, unpredictable weather, diverse wildlife, unique people, quaint backwoods towns and rugged working-waterfront villages along the way; all in one extraordinary 1,500-mile canoe and kayak journey.

It is a gift to be able to carve out the time needed for an epic adventure such as this. It is only possible with the support of my amazing wife and partner in life, Nicole, and my family, friends and colleagues to whom I am so very grateful.

Let’s Do This Together!

It is my sincere hope that this first-of-a-kind trip will inspire others to reconnect with the planetary powers that are the natural birthright of us all. Please join this movement by donating to one of my tiers (and scoring some sweet rewards!) All help is appreciated, thank you!


John Connelly
Falmouth, Maine, USA



  1. Reply

    Traci Lynn Martin

    June 28, 2016

    Dear Mr Connelly,

    I would love to be able to meet up with you in August, and talk to you in person regarding your amazing trip. (I will be in the Maine area in August, doing some scouting and paddling along the coastline).

    I am also planning a similar journey as yours, and your experience and knowledge will be invaluable to me!

    A little bit about myself… I live in Missouri and I am an experienced expedition kayaker and successful ultra-endurance competitive kayak racer.

    In 2015 and again for 2016 I became one of only two female paddlers whom are being sponsored by Midwest Paddle Racing.

    I have been a competitive kayak racer since 2008 and have taken first place in the women’s solo division dozen’s of times.

    To date, I have participated in the MR 340 eight times (2008 to 2015) and have placed in the top three in my division 4 times, and have won first place in the women’s solo division twice (2011 and 2013).

    Besides taking 1st place in women’s solo dozen’s of times, I have also set Course Record’s in the women’s solo division in:
    2012 during The Gritty Fitty Kayak Race on the Kansas River
    2013 during The Freedom Race on the Missouri River
    2015 during the Osage 36 Canoe / Kayak Race on the Osage River
    2016 during the South Dakota Kayak Challenge on the Missouri River

    My point for explaining my experience level is because I dont want you to think that I am someone who just woke up one day and decided to attempt to break a World Record in kayaking without any experience or knowledge regarding what I am attempting to do.

    My goal, for 2017, is to set a new Guinness World Record for the most miles kayaked in one calendar year. I am attempting to break the record set by Freya Hoffmeister … I will attempt to kayak 8,600 miles in 265 days… My route will include the entire St Lawrence Seaway… I will circumnavigate all 5 of the Great Lakes, as well as paddling the St Lawrence River, and the upper East Coast along the Atlantic Ocean.

    I know that I can set this new World Record. I know that I can get up every day and log the miles needed to achieve this record.. I am first and foremost an ultra-endurance kayak racer… that is why I truly believe that I can do this World Record…. I know that I can get up every day and get the miles done… that is what my body is use to doing… getting the miles done.

    But, when it comes to the knowledge of the area, You are definitely the most experienced paddler whom I have read about. I would greatly value any advice or knowledge that you could share with me.

    I should add, I planned out this route before I ever heard about your journey, … but the end of my route seems to mirror yours in many ways, and for that reason I would LOVE to be able to meet with you and discuss your journey and learn from what you did.

    I would love to learn from your experience!
    Your route, your drop off point for supplies, the equipment that you used, what worked and what didnt work, individuals whom helped you along the way, areas along the coastline that I need to be wary about…. all of it!

    You may contact me by phone or text at 816-536-1384 or by email at

    I TRULY hope to hear back from you.

    Thank you in advance.

    Best regards,
    Traci Lynn Martin

    • Reply


      February 7, 2017

      It was good to connect with you, Traci. Best of luck you your big adventure!

  2. Reply

    Wendell Harriman

    June 30, 2016


    What an Absolutely Amazing Feat you have completed! I can only imagine all the wonders, wilds and tribulations you experienced throughout your endeavor! Being a novice outdoorsman, I too would love to accomplish such an adventure some day!

    I am writing to you today as an Assisistant Scoutmaster With Troop 41 in Hampden Maine. Our Troop does the Allagash Wilderness Waterway annually. and the kids have a blast every year!!! You mention doing talks, and I thought “What a great idea!!” I believe your story would be great inspiration to the 55 plus scouts and leaders of this troop!

    I am sure you are due some much needed rest and getting back to the swing of things, but when you are up to it and have some time, we would love to host you some time in the near future and hope to hear of your amazing adventure!!

    Thank you.

    Best Regards,

    Wendell Harriman II.

    • Reply


      February 7, 2017

      It was spectacular! Incredible waterways, landscapes and seascapes. I knew it would be “challenging” and it certainly lived up to that, and more!

  3. Reply

    brad houston

    February 9, 2018

    Awesome! You are such an inspiration!
    Brad Houston

    • Reply


      August 30, 2018

      Thank you, Brad!