Paddle-a-thon wrap-upAugust 12, 2011
So folks, Steph and I did it! On Saturday we paddled a total of 31 miles in two different countries and in that 31 miles is included 3 miles worth of portaging (which means that for those three miles the canoe was balanced on one of our shoulders while the other carried our shared day pack and assorted gear of paddles, lifejackets, etc). As several other repeat paddle-a-thoners have said, it is amazing how quickly one’s body and mind forget pain and since it only took until around Tuesday for the soreness to leave my shoulders, the crazy thought is already entering my head of “Man, that would be fun to do again!” But we will leave that for another time, but for now here is a breakdown of the day.
There were 6 groups of paddlers and 1 kayaker heading out on the water on Saturday and 4 groups headed out at 4am, while my canoe and our buddy canoe waited to the luxurious hour of 5am (the different between waking at 3:30am and 4:30am can’t be underestimated). Despite all my anxieties (ask Steph, sometimes around big events like this I can get just a little nutso) about the “60% chance of thunderstorms” forecast, we had a great day for paddling. It started off clear and allowed me to get to see that beautiful sunrise over the water that I had been looking forward, but then clouded over and kept us nice and cool during the long paddle home that late afternoon.
Our route took us north out of Moose Lake, for about 6 miles, until we reached our first portage of the day over into the Quetico. Only 20 rods long (1 rod equals 16 feet) this also marked our last chance to use a real toilet for the day (the Quetico is even more primitive than the Boundary Waters and doesn’t even have latrines). From there it was another 3 mile paddle up into Sunday Bay where we had our first of our three serious portages of the day, 134 rods. Then another 3 miles of paddling where we faced down the big one 190 rods (approximately 1/2 a mile) and I was proud that I managed to carry the canoe both ways for this one. However I will say that type of thing leaves you shaky, slightly floating and incapable of raising ones’ hands above ones’ head. After that it was a quick paddle around a corner of a lake and then another 140 rod portage to get us into our final destination Agnes Lake and the lovely waterfall where we rested for lunch.
Of course this also meant that after our 30 minutes of rest we hoped (or more accurately slowly lowered ourselves) into our canoes to retrace our route from the morning. I think Steph would agree that our combined low point came around 5 miles from the boat access point (or around mile 26). At this point, you know there is absolutely no other option than to just keep paddling, but your body is pretty pissed at you for getting it into this whole mess, your arms have kind of forgotten how to paddle a J-stroke or a C-stroke, there are highly annoying black flies catching a ride in your canoe for the express purpose of driving you slowly mad by repeatedly biting your legs (it is hard to swat and paddle simultaneously), the clouds overhead are blocking any chance of seeing the sky head towards sunset and your navigator (in this case me) keeps misreading the map thinking we are only 15 minutes or so away. This is when you fall back on the only thing that will save you and someone keep you paddling for those last miles, the thing that is always there for you during late night road trips, or mopey Saturday afternoons, by which I mean of course the complete Sound of Music soundtrack. Steph and I had discovered earlier in the day that singing quite helps the time go by and also helps us paddle together, so we had already sung through our entire repertoire of hymns, folk songs, etc, but hadn’t yet remembered musicals. So after we completed Sound of Music (we even attempted the puppet yodeling song, although we could only remember the first 2 lines) we ventured into Lion King and several others, before finally around 6:45pm, we reached the end!
Finally, I just want to thank all of you who donated! While Steph and I didn’t quite reach our goal of raising $1,000 (we raised just under $900), we were so happy that we were able to raise as much as we did. So thanks again to all of you who donated or at least thought positive thoughts for Steph and I on Saturday, it made such a difference!