Mike Ranta paddles off of Lake Winnipeg, wind and storms dogging him right to the end. PHOTO BY DAVID JACKSON
Twenty weeks into his fourth canoe marathon, Mike Ranta figures he’s about 1,000 km and six weeks behind schedule.
Wind, wind, and more wind… add thunderstorms to the mix, and even a tornado and water spout. As far as making time is concerned, everything has conspired against Ranta, Spitzii, and their travelling companion, David Jackson. They’ve spent close to fifty of the trip’s first 143 days wind bound.
It doesn’t seem to be dampening his enthusiasm, however. He was his effusive self after a day on Lake of the Woods on Monday:
“Great day so far on Lake of the Woods! Special thanks goes out to Camp Stephens for the coffee and great conversation! Really awesome councillor here who truly care for the kids at the camp! This camp has been running for over 125 years and is one of our favorite stops on the lake. They always treat us (especially Spitzii) with amazing hospitality and kindness! Looking forward to meeting up with these guys again! Super hot here today so we’re gonna stop every once and awhile to take a dip! Also a huge thank you goes out to Scott Green for putting us up last night at the Anicinabe campground! It was a great stay and such a kid friendly place… lol… even this old kid had a blast!”
At this point, they’ve given up the notion of reaching Cape Breton, and instead plan to keep paddling until the end of October and see where they get.
The Prairies are where most of the down time occurred. They were about two-and-a-half weeks behind schedule when they reached Grand Rapids, Manitoba, on July 4, and any hopes of making up some time on Lake Winnipeg were quickly dashed. They’d allowed for a week on the big lake, but were just halfway through the north basin by July 11. In the end, it took thirty-one days to reach Fort Alexander at the southeast end of the lake.
Since then, they’ve done fairly well. This is the most physically challenging portion of the trip – they’ll be paddling against the current until they reach Lake Superior – but they are clearly up to the task.
It took ten days to reach Kenora from Fort Alexander; and they spent their first night on Rainy River Thursday.