Mike Ranta: No lolly gagging in the big city

Mike Ranta: No lolly gagging in the big city

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Mike Ranta’s cross-Canada solo: Weeks 10-11

Mike Ranta hit Winnipeg Wednesday, June 8, and stayed just long enough to let CTV and Global News crews catch up with him. Exhausted, he spent just one night in the city and didn’t get to a Legion until the next day, at Lockport just northeast of the city.

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We spoke with him on Tuesday, and he is feeling the effects of the southern paddle route. On the northern route, the Saskatchewan is a much bigger river – straighter, with a stronger current. That has it’s disadvantages, especially in a high water year like he experienced in 2014, but it is less physically demanding than what he is dealing with this year.

The Prairie rivers move more slowly, and do a lot of winding. That allows Ranta to get into a paddling groove – 12 to 16 hour days of paddling have become routine – but it is draining. And the winds are all too often blowing from the east. (And even when are with him, all the bends in the river tend to minimize the benefit – the river basin can turn into a bit of a wind tunnel when the winds catch the banks.)

“I’m a little bit sore – a lot sorer than last time, actually, and a little bit worried about all this weight I’ve lost. Everything I put on is gone already,” he said. “I’m packing on the calories wherever I can.”

It hasn’t gotten him down at all, though.

“There are a lot more people around, and it’s a lot warmer [than the Northern route]. And when the wind’s in your favour, and the river is right, you can really make time.”

“I’ve gotten lots of signatures and met so many great, great people.”

And he had his special moment with a newborn moose.

“That was a pretty cool experience. We came around a corner and kind of startled a cow with two calves about 100 yards ahead. One of the calves ran into the river… As we came ahead, Spitzii started barking and I could see the calf’s ears sticking up out of the water. He seemed to be stuck in the muddy bottom and caught up in a clump of logs – he wasn’t going to get out on his own…”

The calf offered no objection to being rescued by Ranta, and huddled in the middle of the canoe while Ranta brought the canoe around to a better approach to shore.

“He walked out of the canoe and climbed right up the bank when we got close,” said Ranta. “Back to mama!”

Winnipeg River

After some slow going – winds on Lake Winnipeg – Ranta entered the Winnipeg River Monday morning, June 13.

That’s the earliest he’s reached that way point in his three trips. In 2011, he got there on June 16, and reached Atikokan 16 days later. In 2014, he got to the mouth of the Winnipeg River on June 22; high water on the river and in NWO slowed him to a crawl half a dozen times over the next few weeks, and it took him 25 days to reach Atikokan that year.


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