Ranta gearing up for another cross-country trek

Ranta gearing up for another cross-country trek

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Mike Ranta presents $3,200 to Atikokan Legion Poppy Fund chair Dale Boyd. The money will be used to assist Atikokan veterans in need. He presented the same amount to Atikokan Youth Initiatives for the teen centre.

Donations mark end of 2016 journey

Mike Ranta made two presentations last week: just over $3,200 each to the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 145 and the Atikokan Youth Initiatives’ youth centre project.

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The donations came from all over Canada, he said, from people following his cross-Canada solo on-line, and from people he encountered face-to-face along the way. The biggest single donation came from Jennifer Ward and Mary McNaughton, Atikokanites now in Thunder Bay. Atikokan businesses were strong supporters of the cause, too, said Ranta.

With that last piece of business wrapped up from his 2016 adventure, Ranta has already started preparations for another cross-country marathon in 2017.

“It’s Canada’s 150th birthday. I have to paddle for that,” he said.

He will have a paddling partner for the first time. Photographer and journalist David Jackson, who has covered Ranta several times for Canoe & Kayak magazine (he also took that great photo of Ranta laying his memorial wreath at the National War Memorial on Remembrance Day), will join him.

“He wanted to join me this year, but got a chance to go shoot at the Olympics,” said Ranta. “He’s a very neat guy.”

He’s young (about half Ranta’s age), strong, and an experienced paddler (“He paddled the Bow River”), who’s planning to build a more elaborate record of the trip.

“I always want to do more of that stuff on these trips, but the fact is that taking an hour a day for movie making [and related activities], when you do it every day, well that’s two weeks out of the whole trip…” said Ranta.

The two of them are working now to get Canoe & Kayak and a drone manufacturer involved as trip sponsors. They have also been talking with National Geographic and several organizations involved in Canada 150 events.

This trip will cover an all-new route, starting April 1 at Bella Bella, an Indigenous community on Campbell Island on the central coast region of British Columbia. From there, they will paddle inland to Bella Culla, and then set out on an 840 km portage to Kinbasket Lake.

“We’ll be retracing the route David Thompson first took,” he said. “That portage will be the most difficult part of the trip, but then crossing the mountains always is. It’s all downhill from there!”

The route will include the South Saskatchewan River (“I’ll have done the whole thing once we’re through.”), and the Rainy River – Quetico Park route south of Atikokan to Lake Superior.

“We’re planning to take separate routes on several parts of the trip, too, so we’ll both get that solo feel,” he said. “As a journalist, he’s going to have a different perspective on the whole thing, I think.”

In addition to assembling a new sponsorship package, Ranta and Jackson are working to develop a new website.

And Ranta, of course, is still paddling nearly every day, most recently at Strawhat Lake.

“My objective is to paddle every month of the year. Last year I just missed February…”

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