Mike Ranta’s epic canoe marathon: Vancouver to Cape Breton
It was a gut-wrenching start to week 14 of Mike Ranta’s cross Canada canoe journey, but all ended well when a missing Spitzii was found safe and sound, Monday morning, July 11. Ranta’s canine sidekick went missing Sunday evening and a frantic Ranta took to social media asking for help in locating the Finnish Spitz which has accompanied him on both of his previous cross-country paddles in 2011 and 2014.
Sunday morning started out well enough, after visiting with well-wishers and veterans at the Kakabeka Falls Legion, but that afternoon the swollen river currents north of the falls caused Ranta’s canoe to capsize. While he managed to get the canoe, supplies, and Spitzii safely to shore, the dog took off in the Kaministiqua River wilderness.
Ranta’s social media followers quickly spread the word for anyone in the area to keep an eye out for the dog. Ranta’s cousin Rene Legros joined him in the all-night search.
“There’s a lot of wolf scat in the area but thankfully I haven’t heard them yet,” Ranta posted later that evening. “I’m trying to stay positive but it’s been too long and he should’ve came back by now. I’ve ran around hollering for him and I slipped and fell into an old river bed and hurt my back a bit and my voice is starting to fade from yelling. Spitzii is a tough pup, but I know what lurks in these bushes and what they’re capable of doing. I’m gonna set up camp and I’m not leaving here till I figure out where he is, I owe him that and then some. Please keep him in your prayers. This is so heartbreaking.”
Around 10 am Monday came the news everyone was waiting for: Spitzii had been found safe and sound by Ranta’s uncle about 1,500 metres from where Ranta had camped.
“Think about all the men and women of our Armed Forces who leave home and don’t make it back. This is just a reminder of what we’re up against out here and how quickly things can turn for the bad! It also put us into perspective as to why we do it…”
After some bonding and a much-needed rest, the duo embarked again Tuesday, making it to Thunder Bay by evening.
Wednesday morning saw Ranta headed into the city to resolve his GPS locator device before preparing to embark on to Lake Superior: “I know what Lake Superior is capable of and having a reliable emergency device is essential not just for my safety but in case I come across others that are in need of help!”
Technical issues were resolved Wednesday, “special thanks to Tim Thorburn for his assistance… I know he pulled something off cause there’s no way I’d be able to get it on the go!,” posted Ranta.
Wednesday was also a good day to visit, and afforded Ranta the opportunity to meet legendary paddler Gene Tetreault, who joined Atikokan’s Joe Meany and Art Morris to kayak from Rocky Mountain House, Alberta to Montreal in 1967. “He’s been an inspiration to many paddlers and it was a true honour to get a chance to meet him personally.”
Ranta and Spitzii spent Wednesday and Thursday night at Old Fort William while waiting for the winds to calm a bit. While preparing to set out Friday morning, this week’s close call put safety in front of mind for Ranta.
“This is probably the most beautiful but most dangerous part of this trip! These waters are no joke and a slip up on this lake usually doesn’t end well for man or beast! Spitzii and I and Atta will use all our skills together and turn this into a great adventure!”
Follow Ranta’s journey across Lake Superior and on to Dominion Beach, Cape Breton at https://mikeranta.ca/interactive-map and www.facebook.com/Mike-Rantas-Paddle