Real People, Real Adventures

     There are some great places to paddle out there if you have the time and money.  You could paddle for months at a stretch if you really wanted to.  It would take more than time and money though, it would also take ambition.  Most people either have time or money, not both at the same time.  But there are a couple of guys from this area that must have time, money and ambition because they have quite the paddling adventures planned.

     Bryan Hansel is a local photographer who has decided to circumnavigate all of the Great Lakes by kayak this summer.  That to me sounds like a ton of work but to make the task even more challenging he plans to do it alone.  He’ll be leaving from the Grand Marais Harbor on May 2nd for a 5 month, 3800 mile kayak trip.

     “With this trip, I plan to call attention to the increasing pressure placed on this area and highlight the world-class paddling opportunities. I believe that by increasing paddlesport participation, we will advance resource and wilderness protection,” Hansel said. 

     Bryan plans to keep folks updated by posting tweets on Twitter via his cell phone during the trip.  He’ll meet up with different people along the way to paddle with locals and re-stock his food supplies.  When he gets home from his trip he plans to produce a coffee table book of pictures from his trip.  To find out more about Bryan and his adventure be sure to check out his website.

     Local musher Eric Simula’s daughter is graduating from high school this year and he wants to be there.  While most people would hop in their vehicle and drive to get to Grand Rapids, MN Eric plans to paddle there in his homemade birch bark canoe.

     "I will start where I live, a small cabin deep in the forest off the Arrowhead Trail near Hovland, Minnesota.  Beginning April 15th, 2009, or soon thereafter when the weather and ice on Pigeon Bay of Lake Superior allow, I will paddle around Pigeon Point and south to Duluth along the Shore.  Portaging up the Grand Portage of the St.Louis River, I will follow the Old Northwest Trail over the Savanna Portage to the Mississippi River, and upstream to Anna’s graduation in Grand Rapids, Minnesota.  On my return trip I will continue upriver to Lake Winnibigoshish, portage to Bowstring Lake, and paddle the Bigfork River downstream to the Border.  Turning east, I will follow the Border through International Falls, Voyageur’s National Park, Quetico Provincial Park, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW), and down the Pigeon River’s Grand Portage, arriving back at Lake Superior on August 10th, 2009, for the annual rendezvous and pow-wow at Grand Portage.  It’s a long journey (1,000 miles), with big water, and dangerous river currents: I’ll use my skills to survive!  And, beautiful country, my homeland: I’ll use my camera and journal to share it with you!"  To learn more about Eric’s journey you can visit his website.

     To say I am envious of these two men would be an understatement.  To think I will ever do anything like it would be fooling myself.  I do dream about spending an entire summer paddling and camping in the wilderness.  I fantasize about solo canoe camping for an extended period of time. Maybe some day in the far off future I will be free to do something so bold.  But right now I just can’t see it.  With two children, a business and so many other obligations I barely feel comfortable taking an hour to myself so to think about a week isn’t even rationale.  Maybe if the stars align properly this summer I can slip away for a one night solo trip. 

     I wish both of these courageous men the best of luck in their journey.  And as the logo on my pink paddle says,  "May your new beginning bring you strength, peace and tranquility and may your journeys over water always be safe."