Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

Voyagers challenge 2019

Collapse
X
 
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

    Voyagers challenge 2019


    The Voyagers Challenge is something like a marathon. My starting point was Crain Lake which is about 50 miles east of International Falls MN. The finish is 210 miles east mostly down the Canadian US border and ending at Lake Superior. To qualify as a finisher you must finish on the eighth day or before. This is a wilderness rout and you are not allowed to have any one help you.
    I pushed off from Crain Lake at about 8 AM. Had to make an emergency pit stop before I got off of Crain Lake. The rest of the day went well with the only difficult place being at the rapids between the 2 mechanical portages. I lined my canoe up the left side and when I got above the fastest spot there was a tree in the water which forced me in more than crotch deep water. I camped shortly before Bottle portage. This was a little better than I had estimated I would make it on the first day.
    Day 2
    I was moving along well on Crooked Lake When I got to a spot between Thursday and Wednesday Bays that my map showed I could get through but I could not. I turned north and went around what was marked as an island on my map and headed back south east when I got to where I could look back at the spot I could not get through there was Muddy Feet setting still looking at something most likely his map. He spotted me and took off but not till I had passed him. That was short lived. He was about 100 yards ahead of me when he stopped at a sandy looking area and I passed him again. So my big brag is I passed Muddy Feet twice. The second time he passed me I stayed a short distance behind him long enough to see his rudder doing some bending in directions it was not meant to. I would not get to tell him about it until I got to the end of the challenge. I kept him in sight until he started across the first of the Basswood portages. The last of the 3 portages into Basswood Lake is about 1 mile and I pushed it too hard on that portage. I had to set the canoe down about ¾ of the way across and go back for it. When I got everything across I laid down on my back on a rock to rest for just a couple of minutes. As soon as I was down I knew I had made a mistake. Every time I tried to move my back would spasm. I was like a turtle stuck on it back. It took me about 5 minutes to get off of my back. At that point I was more exhausted than when I laid down. I set for a couple of minutes looked at my maps and discovered that I had lost the one I was on. About that time another group came through and said they saw it on the trail but did not pick it up. Well it is Basswood I paddled through here last week. I don’t need no stinking map. After rounding Canadian Point I had some confusion getting through the island but then I headed for the south side of the lake. With no map I did not know where the camp sites were so the first hole in the woods I found I stopped. It was a poor camp but it was a camp. This is about where I thought I would be the second night.
    Day 3
    I am on the water at about 4:30 but I plan on eating breakfast at a picnic table. I can see lights on in one camp and 2 canoes are on the water ahead of me headed for Prairie Portage. Before I land at PP they are gone. I set at the table and eat my delicious breakfast and then use the facilities before doing the portage. Once back on the water I was on smaller water until I got to Saganaga and by then the wind was starting to come up. A rest stop was required between some islands about ¾ of the way across the large part of Saganaga. With camp sites being scarce on the Granite River I camped on an island where my rout turned south.
    Day 4
    I filled both of my water bottles for the trip up the Granit River. Being on small water I don’t remember if there was any wind. Portages were not where they were marked on my map but they were easy to find. I think it was the last portage on the river before Magnetic Lake near the lake end where I came to a rock wall about 9 foot high. There was a crack about 3 foot wide with several toe holds so with backpack and canoe I headed up without hesitating. I am up about 4 -5 foot when my left foot slips off of a rock edge. I land on my left shin on a rock edge. I swing my left arm to grab something and crack my elbow on the corner of the rock wall. As I am sliding down the rocks I hear myself say “is it broke” “is it broke” and then “no it is not”. I am referring to my leg. I am trapped under my canoe for about 30 seconds. I slip out of my backpack as I am crawling out from under my canoe. I stand up and start assessing whether this was a trip ender or not. I need to get over this rock wall either way. I stand the canoe on end leaning against the rock wall and put the pack on and crawl up the crack. Once over I set my pack by the water and go back for the canoe. I am able to grab the canoe from on top of the wall and lift it. Once everything is at the edge of the water I check out my injuries. I am losing a little blood but everything works. Both the knee and the elbow are sore to the touch but do not hurt otherwise. (As I write this 5 weeks later the shin scab is gone and there is just a little of the bruise remaining. The elbow is still sore and I wear a pad over it to protect it from bumps.) As I head across Magnetic Lake I notice the wind is fairly strong. I round the corner and head down Gunflint and I have a quartering tail wind. I shove my pack as far back in the canoe as I can reach and put my front pack behind my seat to get more weight in the back. About ½ way down Gunflint I am surfing some waves for several seconds and am making good time but it is tiring and I am taking on water. I have water under my seat and the back of the canoe is loaded heavy and I can’t see how deep the water is back there. I am concerned the back of the canoe may be getting low enough to take on water faster. I see an area with a beach and some houses on the north side of the lake and the wind wants to take me there. I jump out before I hit the beach and pull the canoe up high enough to keep the waves form slamming it and bail it out. It was not as serious as I feared but I did not relish the thought of going back out and fighting waves. I looked around for a place to hang a hammock. All the trees were small and would not do the job. So I pulled the canoe back to the water and got in and paddled straight into the wind and whitecaps until I could make the corner and get around the point and head easterly again. By the time I made the turn I had more water in the canoe than was there when I got to the beach but now I know that is not a serious problem at this level. Near the east end of the lake is an island camp that is a check point. While checking in I decide to stay for the night. It was too early to stop but with the bad fall and the wind I needed a break. There was a golf ball sized bulge on my elbow and the shin has stopped bleeding.
    Day 5
    The site is well protected from the wind but I can hear it all night with lots of thunder and lightning. At 3 AM while eating breakfast it is raining sometimes hard but when it is time to take down the tarp the rain has stopped. I am on the water before 4 with thunder from the north and heavy clouds completely covering the sky. It is so dark I can’t see the white hand on my compass. I set in the shelter of the island to get my bearings. Using my headlight I point the canoe in the direction of the portage and shut the headlight off. I can see a notch in the horizon as a guide to get near the portage and I paddle out into the whitecaps. The only thing I can make out is the notch on the horizon and the big whitecaps. The wind is blowing hard with gale force gusts that only last for a couple of seconds. Then I see 2 white dots at the water line far ahead. It is two birds taking off. I see a whitecap hit one of the birds and knock it off course. A couple of wing beats and it is back beside the other bird. By then I could see it was a pair of swans and they are about 2 foot above the water. They look almost luminescent with everything else so dark. A big gust of wind hits me turning my canoe 90° to the waves. Before I can get my canoe turned the gust hits the swans and stops all of their forward progress. They rise straight up to about 12 feet above the water. The gust passes them and they drop back down near the water and their forward progress resumes. Seeing what was happening I laid my paddle down and just watched. They passed about 50 feet in front of my bow. Their wings were in perfect sync. I could hear the down beat of their wings over the roar of the wind in the trees and the distant thunder. Just as they were past a whitecap through cup of water in my face and a quart in the canoe and I picked up my paddle and got to the business at hand. It is a short distance to the portage. Before finishing the portage the headlight is no longer needed. The wind is getting strong early today. Getting across the large part of North Lake is quite challenging. The wind is directly in my face with a heading of SSW. As I approach the south shore the wind stops. Boy I crossed that at the wrong time. The wind was on and off several times during the day but never gave me as much trouble as it had on North Lake. I was surprised at how shallow Moose and the Fowl lakes were. My map showed the portage to the pigeon in the wrong place. I spend 30 minutes looking around before I found it. Just as I was headed down the trail another group pulled in. Shortly a young lady with a BIG pack passed me. The trail got very steep with some challenging places to carry a canoe up. Shortly after that the lady came back down the trail and said the trail ends up there. I assured her this had to be the trail and even got my GPS out and showed her we were going approximately the correct direction. Well it was a real nice view from the overlook view trail. The trail ended at a real nice overlook but don’t take your canoe up there. Climbing back down her life jacket got caught on one of the rock ledges and tore loose from her pack. I picked it up and thought I would catch up with them at Fort Charlotte. We had taken the wrong fork in the path. It cost me an exhausting hour by taking the wrong fork. After finishing the portage I was out of water. I filled both of my water bottles and put iodine tablets in both. The rest of the trip I would use Iodine tablets to treat the water. I had heard of the French rapids. I ran the first couple of rapids then I could see that the next one was full of rocks so I waded the rapid and held onto the canoe. Then there was another and another and another. I don’t know how many I waded but I finally could see they were not that bad so I started running them again. Occasionally jumping out just before a rocky section. I did not realize how near Partridge Falls was until I heard them. I did not realize the portage went back to the river near the base of the falls so I went a long ways down a fire trail before turning back. Another hour lost going the wrong direction. The portage down to the river was slick and had a couple of trees across it but no big problems. A short paddle and I was at Fort Charlotte. No one was there the other group had gone across the Grand Portage. After setting up camp I had several hours before bed time. I took my canoe and some of my gear 1 & 1/2 hours down the trail and stashed it in the woods. Went back to camp had a little camp fire and relaxed before bed time.
    Day6
    The next morning I slept in and repacked some of my gear. I left the lifejacket hanging on the Grand Portage sign. The first part of the trail went fast with only a light back pack. The rest of the Grand Portage I would carry for 15 to 20 minutes then put everything down and rest for about 5 minutes. When I finished there was a welcoming group to meet me. While resting on the lawn for a few minutes I passed my observation of Muddy Feet’s rudder bending on to him. He had already planned on rebuilding it. Then the welcoming group carried my canoe down to the lake and I paddled to the marina and caught a ride to the casino. My room was not ready but Grandma_L got me into a room where I could get a shower and change clothes. Grandma_L saw to it that our suitcases were there and the hospitality room was stocked.

    #2
    This seemed very gruelling, MP. We’re you having fun? I liked the the part about the stocked hospitality room at the casino. How many other paddlers participated in this marathon? Were prizes awarded?

    Comment


      #3
      Originally posted by PaddlingPitt View Post
      This seemed very gruelling, MP. We’re you having fun? I liked the the part about the stocked hospitality room at the casino. How many other paddlers participated in this marathon? Were prizes awarded?
      Grand Portage was long but not a bad portage. I enjoyed most of it. The day I fell and then got blown off the water was not a good day. I did not like the rapids. I believe 2 of the tandem boats got damaged in the rapids. There were more than one starting point. Muddyfeet started 30 miles farther west than I did. He passed me on day 2 and set a new time record for a solo paddler. There were 26 starters and 20 that finished.

      Comment


        #4
        Were I 40+ years younger !!!! Oh and Single !!

        It's good you noted the trip ! Even as an all out racer, you were treated to what makes the BWCA a great place ! Wildlife, and Struggle !

        Congrats on finishing !

        Jim
        Keep your paddle wet, and your seat dry !

        Comment


          #5
          Congratulations! That sounds like a blast. What were you paddling? (Or was it a Magic and this is a dumb question?)

          What was your nutrition plan like? Six days is a long time to be self sufficient when packing light and trying to move fast.

          Comment


            #6
            Jim
            I was not the only 70+ year old who did the challenge.
            Goonstroke
            My canoe was a Placid Rapid Fire. I still have a Magic but only use it when I need to carry a lot of gear.
            Breakfast was some kind of cereal with added pecans and dried fruit. Each days breakfast was in a Ziploc bag with enough Nido milk to make about one cup. But I do better with some kind of caffeine so I added a large teaspoon of instant coffee. Dump it in my pot add water mix it up and eat. While on the water I snacked on some homemade nut bars and beef jerky. Most of the Clif bars I took were thrown away before the long portage.

            Comment


              #7
              Is there a web page reference detailing this event and entry?
              "She's all my fancy painted her, she's lovely, she is light. She waltzes on the waves by day and rests with me at night." - Nessmuk, Forest and Stream, July 21, 1880 [of the Wood Drake Canoe built for him by Rushton]

              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by yknpdlr View Post
                Is there a web page reference detailing this event and entry?
                http://www.watertribe.com/Default.aspx
                Scroll down to the bottom of the page to see the 3 border challenges for 2020. I don’t think everything has been setup for 2020 but you can get a good idea of what you will need to do.

                Comment


                  #9
                  I enjoyed your trip report. I'm curious about your seating position since kneeling is getting quite painful for me. Single blade? Stock seat on the floor? Any additional lower back support? Seems like you must have figured out a comfy paddling position to grind out those long days. I'm jealous and impressed.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Glad you enjoyed it. It is sometimes fun to see how others trip.
                    I have the medium height seat in the rapidfire and that is only a couple of inches off the floor. The rapidfire comes with a cloth strap as a back rest that did not work for me. I made a narrow wood back rest that is fastened to the thwart. It required some fiddling to get the position correct. Sometimes I put my PFD over the back rest to let me scoot back a little more. I use a double paddle and do not carry a spare.

                    Comment

                    Working...
                    X