Night at the Museum 2 – Superior Push

Day 94. We’d heard big winds were in the cards for day 95 so we wake up with the plan to push. Big lake paddling is all about taking advantage of what the lake gives us so when Superior decides to give us calm waters, it’s time to go.

The day starts much like the rest. 5am hits and we pack our lives into the boat under the stars still glowing from the night before. We heat up some left over dinner for a big filling breakfast, pick our seats for the day and we’re on our way.

It is tradition to offer gifted tobacco to Superior at certain checkpoints along the way to score some extra brownie points with the man upstairs. Superior appreciated the gesture and the lake was flat as a pond while the sun popped up like it was the middle of July. In hopes of taking advantage of the calm waters, we make a big jump across the lake from Agawa Bay to the Montreal River Harbour. Being far from the shore during this stretch we also give an offering of fresh urine to the almighty Superior. The lake is into it!

A couple of snacks later we find ourselves eating lunch at Point des Mines. We are happy with our progress and begin to throw around the idea of pushing past our initial goal of Pancake Bay. Tuna Pasta has a way of lifting our spirits.

On we go. To our surprise the lake is getting calmer and calmer with every stroke we take. Kilometers continue to fly behind us as we enter a very quiet portion of the day. Every so often the banter dies down and everyone’s brains drift into our own little worlds.

As we round Mamonaise Point we see a motorboat approaching in the distance. It had been a while since we’ve bumped into a set of friendly strangers on the lake so we turn in closer and they began to direct their putt-putt back towards us. As we approach each other it becomes obvious that the passengers are not our usual wave partners. Hollye’s father Peter and Uncle Daryl had met up with their friends Mike and Mel who have cottage on the lake and they had somehow commandeered a fisherman’s boat in search of our team.

The shock of the surprise visit is accompanied with stories and drinks in the middle of the lake. SMILES GALORE. After a quick tow and a kidnapping of Hollye, Mike and Mel invite us for lunch the following day at his cottage 30km in the right direction. It was around 6:30pm at the time and it seemed like a lunchtime arrival the following day would be a natural fit.

NOPE! We unloaded our heaviest gear into their motorboat and decided we would get to their cottage that night. Why not? Family reunions and dreams of home cooked meals were enough to motivate us to put our heads down and go. Another night in the nature museum was on!

As she always seems to do for us, Old Mama Nature cooperates. The sun sets pinker than a family of flamingoes and the moon rolls out a perfect strip of light along the lake towards our destination. We didn’t stop our boat once. With a lighter load we cruise around point after point. When the wind picks up, it injects our arms with adrenaline and when it dies down we proceed to offer thanks to the lake in the form of more fresh pee off the side of the boat. It’s the least we can do.

Midnight hits and we round the final bend towards Papa Ervine and his fleet of enthusiastic welcomers. The whole shoreline was asleep but we saw a flashing light in the distance. It had to be them! Mike and Mel shined their high beams at us and we returned the favour with the dying batteries on our headlamps.

We hit their beach at 12:30 in the morning –  after an 18 hour day of paddling WE HAD ARRIVED. Mike, Mel, Peter, Daryl and Hollye greeted us with excitement and shock. Mel’s father Romeo, could hardly control his enthusiasm as he screamed, “I told you they’d make it, I told you they’d make it!” over and over. We made it! It was time to celebrate. Arguably our best welcome yet and in large part from complete strangers. Nothing says congratulations like burgers, beers, log cabins, cozy beds, saunas and GREAT company.

With a fresh breakfast in our bellies and an amazing sleep behind us we had the energy to put the last leg of Superior behind us. Thank you to the best hosts around and the family who made the drive, only to make for the best reward we could ever dream of. Night paddling is always an amazing ride but the way this one ended will make it an outstanding PACT memory forever. 




We get asked a lot of questions, but here are the most frequently asked questions for a voyageur canoe trip.

Q: Where are you going?
A: Our destination is the Fur Trade at Lachine National Historic Site.

Q: Where did you start?
A: Our departure point was the Rocky Mountain House National Historic Site.

Q: How long is your trip going to take?
A: We estimate to finish the trip on Day 120.

Q: What is your canoe made out of?
A: Fiberglass body, hardwood seats and thwarts

Q: How much does your canoe weigh?
A: 270 lbs

Q: Do you have to portage the canoe?
A: Yes.

Q: How many portages are there on your route?
A: We estimate there to be 40 portages. We try to line as many as we can, so a definite total will come after the trip.

Q: How many people does it take to carry the canoe?
A: Four minimum. Six is preferred for portaging on the shoulders as the uneven and tight trails cause the weight to be distributed unevenly. Six allows for the stability we need.

Q: Who sterns the canoe?
A: We switch every position in the canoe every day. This reduces muscle fatigue and boredom.

Q: Do you switch paddling sides?
A: Once a day.

Q: Do you all paddle at once?
A: Yes.

Q: What do you eat?
A: Breakfast: Oatmeal or quinoa with a raisin and nut medley.
Lunch: A rotating combo of quinoa, lentils, chick peas, pasta and spice.
Dinner: A rotating combo of beans, pasta, rice, tvp and spice.

A full menu will be posted soon.

Q: How did your group meet?
A: We met as staff at Camp Quin-Mo-Lac, Tweed, and Camp Tamakwa, Algonquin Park.

Q: Were you friends before the trip?
A: Yes.

Q: Do you still get along?
A: Yes.

Q: What is the total distance?
A: 4780km - with swerving we're bumping that up to 5000km.

Q: How much distance do you cover in a day?
A: We travel an average of 50km a day. Lowest kms travelled in a day: 10km
Highest kms travelled in a day: 84km

Q: What is your route?
A: Though we travelled many waterways, here is our route simplified:
North Saskatchewan River
Saskatchewan River
Cedar Lake
Lake Winnipeg
Winnipeg River
Lake of the Woods
Rainy River
Rainy Lake
Namigon Lake
Quetico / Boundary Waters
Pigeon River
Lake Superior
Lake Huron - North Channel
                  - Georgian Bay
French River
Lake Nipissing
Mattawa River
Ottawa River

Q: Have you seen any wildlife?
A: Yes. See the posted "Ranger Reports" for details.

The benefit of Camp Kooch-i-ching and outdoor education

By David Sieck (Marissa's Dad)       


Forty years ago was the last summer I spent swimming in the neighborhood pool.  George Simmons worked with my father and had insisted for the past year that my parents send me to a 600 acre island outside of International Falls, MN for my entire summer break.  George’s family had been going for generations and it would be a “perfect place for me.”  I was not sure if I was being punished or rewarded; I was TEN.

        Why was it “perfect” for me? I was all boy in a different world than the one we know today.  I would wake up, eat breakfast and head out on my adventure of the day.  This would include hiking through the woods on the other side of the bayou and rerouting a stream with rocks because the damn just would not hold back the water.  I got in my share of trouble: throwing rocks through the neighbor’s window and shooting water guns at a passing police car.  Even with my antics, Mom never worried because I always came home at the end of the day ready to eat anything and everything.  I was easy care- grab the hose, rinse me down in the driveway, feed me and I was out for the night.  How was I to know then that this island and the camp “Kooch” would become the backbone of my character development from a boy to a MAN.  Kooch gave me the opportunity to learn what I needed to be successful in life: courage, work ethic, honor, kindness and the ability to “seek the joy of being alive.”

        It was June 6th, 1974; eleven year old boys do not really have a grasp of the world and certainly are not aware that they are starting to make choices affecting their future character.  My role model, to that date, was my father; who spent most of his time working hard in the office and in the yard. To the man who had the wisdom to send me to Kooch and found the way to make it happen for 10 years, I am eternally grateful.  I always thanked him, but more importantly I have tried to honor him through my actions by being the son, husband and father of which he would be proud.  It was up to Mom to help me pack and guess what I was going to need during my adventure in the wilderness to the great north.  Living in Houston, TX does not prepare you for the very different world of the Boundary Waters.  For the summer, I brought sheets for my bed. (Really?! I only brought sheets for my bed!)  Houston in June, July and August has temperatures ranging from 100F that get down to 75F at night.

        I left the house at 5:30am to catch a 7:00am flight from Houston to Minneapolis where I would change planes and later fly to International Falls with a bunch of boys from all over the U.S.  So much for a simple trip, the plane to “The Falls” had a problem so we flew to Duluth where we caught a bus to the border.  We arrived at the boat dock at 10:00pm to catch a barge for the 1 mile journey to the Island.  Good thing I was exhausted, because I had NO idea where I was, why I was on a barge loaded with gear and what to do until they told me to grab my stuff and head to Cabin Four.  Thankfully, Simmy and Ole (my counselors) were there with flashlights to guide me over the rock outcroppings, through the trees, up the hill and into a cabin with a hand painted number four on the plaque next to the door.  Everyone in the cabin knew I had finally arrived when the spring loaded cabin door slammed loudly behind me.  They showed me my bunk and told me to grab my stuff to make my bed and hit the sack.  In 10 minutes I was covered in my sheets and in 15 minutes my teeth were chattering so hard that Ole immediately knew how to quiet the noise, three wool Hudson Bay 4-point blankets later and I was sawing logs.  It was an early lesson in the communal lesson of survival in the Great Northwoods.  I had pride knowing I actually managed to travel 1500 miles across the United States from the Gulf of Mexico to the Canadian border in one day.  I arrived in one piece with everything on the packing list for the eight weeks of camp fun, wilderness adventures and all of my sheets.  

        The first step in my journey was complete. Time to grab the knife and matches! George was right- this was a place for boys.  In reflection, Kooch was a place where young men are given examples of honor and hard work then are provided with incentives and opportunities to put them to practice.  I was taught the proper way to handle, care for and use my new survival tool.  We all took the responsibility seriously and did not cut ourselves or each other in play. My matches were soon covered in wax to protect them from the elements and a canoe flip during our trips.  I am not aware of anyone ever burning down a cabin.  I was having so much fun that I did not realize I was learning these lessons.  The lessons were ingrained in my memory like the life lesson tapes our parents provide us: “go to the bathroom before we head out on a long drive” and “gentlemen always hold the door for a lady.”  At Kooch it was “The law of the woods” and it is amazing how many times in the past 39 years I have repeated the phrases over in my head.  During several key events in the summer Little Council and Grand Council a larger central fire was set  up with four arms each with 3 fingers to walk us all through;


From the Great Central Fire,

I Light This, the Lamp of Beauty.

Be clean- both yourself and the place you live in.

Be strong- understand and respect your body. It is the temple of the spirit.

Protect all harmless wildlife- and be ever ready to fight the wild of the fire in the woods.

From the Great Central Fire,

I Light This, the Lamp of Truth.

Speak true- word of honor is sacred.

Play fair- foul play is treachery.

Be reverent- worship the great spirit and respect all worship of him by others.

From the Great Central Fire,

I Light This, the Lamp of Fortitude.

Be brave- courage is the noblest of all attainments.

Be silent- it is harder to be silent than to speak, but in the hour of trial it is stronger.

Obey- obedience is the first law of the woods.

From the Great Central Fire,

I Light This, the Flaming Lamp of Love.

Be kind- do at least one act of unbargaining service each day.

Be helpful- do your share of the work.

Be joyful- seek the joy of being alive.

This is the Law of the Woods.

These words helped me through many incidents in my life when I was unsure how I should act.  They helped me in high school, college and business.  I was able to apply them on our wilderness trips and with my football teammates.  When I was introduced to the Honor Code at Princeton, it was already a familiar concept to me: “Speak true- word of honor is sacred.”  The Wilderness trips gave us many opportunities to apply the lessons.  There were times when the days got long, the weather was bad, the insects were devouring us and when we finally made it to the campsite we needed to dig down and find the will to find wood, set up the tents, prepare, serve and clean up the meal and finally stow everything for the possibility of foul weather passing through the night.  These were the times that tested our character, our ability dig deep and complete the task; help others who needed an extra hand (you can not finish a portage if one person is stuck in muskeg at the beginning of the trail) even though you finished your task you could “Be kind- do at least one act of unbargaining service each day.”  During one of my trips down the Bloodvein River we came across a tree burning from a lightning strike during the previous night, we did not hesitate because we knew we had to “Protect all harmless wildlife- and be ever ready to fight the wild of the fire in the woods.”  

        I wake up every morning, thankful for the many opportunities and blessings I have received.  Never forgetting my favorite Law from the Flaming Lamp of Love, remember to always:

        Be joyful- Sieck the joy of being alive!



As soon as we entered the Rainy River, we noticed something peculiar about our right hand shore line. The air was a little heavier and had a hint of fast food while bald eagles were stationed on every treetop watching our every move as if "robotically". The land was strangely devoid of a second official language, lacked coloured money, and was uncomfortable with anything foreign. We were in the shadow of America.

It's easy to pick on our two-party neighbour to the south, but being concerned primarily with wilderness travel, two differences need to be highlighted.

Portage Pronunciation - This is not a tomato - tomato debate. There IS a correct way to say the word that describes the act of hauling your canoe and gear overland between two bodies of water.
"Por- taage" pronounced with a soft "a" reflects the word's French roots. This is the preferred Canadian and correct pronunciation. It's fun to say, and gets you in the mood to count the upcoming metres.
"Port-idge" the incorrect American pronunciation has a short and abrupt feel to it, not at all reflecting the gruelling action the word is meant to describe. What a gross indecency to the origin! Imagine our offence when we encountered the double harsh sound of an Americanized "Grand Portage"! Sacrebleu! Gone is the history and romance of Le Grand Portage!

Rods - Having no need for the International Bureau of Weights and Measures and its worldwide adoption of standards, metric does not apply in the United States. In the US, complex systems of measurement still run rampant.
As good Canadians, we measure our por-taages in metres. (Note the "re" proper Queen's English spelling). A metre is a practical unit. It is equal to the length of the path travelled by light in a vacuum during a time interval of 1⁄299,792,458 of a second. It can be converted into other metric units by just moving the decimal! You can easily visualise a metre from your grade school days of running the 500m in track and field and dividing by 500! All these reasons make it the perfect measure of distance over a por-taage.
The Americans measure their port-idges in rods. A rod is an antiquated imperial measurement handy in the calculation of a standard acre. They came into popular use when King Henry VIII wanted to know exactly how much land he had just acquired from dissolving the Catholic Church. Interesting, but where does this fit into canoeing?
A rod happens to be 16 1/2 feet long, also the length of a standard tandem canoe. So a port-idge of 35 rods would be the equivalent of carrying your canoe 35 times its length or translated into Canadian as 176.022m (0.352 of a 500m dash).

All told, we spent 11 nights in Minnesota, from the Rainy River to Lake Superior. We criss-crossed  "the longest undefended border in the world" with ease; lunch in Ontario, dinner in Minnesota, not once encountering a border patrol agent or experimental surveillance drone. We learned to forgive and then love mental math, with every portage containing the same equation: visualise carrying a canoe x amount of times, then convert the rods to feet to metres and then back to track and field visualisations. However, we never got over the non-French infused pronunciation of Portage.

the pine project

A series highlighting the good works of the OEE partners to which PACT will be donating.

the p.i.n.e. project

1) What is the PINE Project? What was the inspiration behind it?

pine is an organization created to deeply re-connect people to self, others and nature. we run programs of all kinds for children, adults and families, and aim to create a culture where connection to nature is inherent, helping support a more resilient future generation.

we use an amazing fusion of arts, song, handcraft, nature education and naturalist learning, and all manner of wilderness skills to help children become more inspired about adventures outdoors in any weather than they are about video games and TV.

wrap all of this together and you end up with a local organization empowering people to re-create community and culture with nature as a core component.

this leads to a happier, healthier, more creative and resilient generation of children, ready to take on the challenges of tomorrow.

2) How does it impact the community?

the on the ground research thus far is best told through a story i hear all the time:

when I ask people how they heard about pine, many of them tell me the same story, over and over again I hear it:

I was out with my kids and some friends of ours, and they got talking about this program that their children are participating in called p.i.n.e.

It sounded like my childhood: playing outside, learning cool things and exploring the parks and valleys.
When I watched the other families' children, I realized how different they were acting than my own... they were running all around, climbing on trees, very alive and sure of their bodies. They had so much energy, and were totally happy off in the forest just making up games and creating and solving problems. My children were sticking with me on the path, somewhat timid to follow the others, and it really dawned on me how this small element (outdoor nature time) was totally deficient in my kids life, and yet it was showing up in a big way in areas such as confidence, competence, creativity, imagination, physicality and so much more.

It blew me away to see the difference, and when I asked the other parents how their kids became so at home in the woods, they just said: "p.i.n.e."

3) What does it mean to you personally?

the p.i.n.e. project means the world to me personally. it's a manifestation of my gifts and passions, as well as the gifts and experiences of so many others that have come before me. our programs are influenced by the cumulative experiences that i've been lucky enough to have with skilled mentors in my life, helping me to learn and grow in ways that the modern education system never supported. with gifted and creative staff, we're able to add inspirational components to help these programs fit the children, adults and families that we work with, and add to the community many of the things they're asking for.

in many ways, p.i.n.e. is the opportunity i wish i had as a child, and it's based upon a model of education that i've seen work wonders time and again.

it's inspiring, fun, challenging, and somehow both light and playful as well as deeply transformational. our mentors and programs help kids to just become whoever it is they are hoping to be, while learning all about the impacts and consequences (good and bad) of our choices and actions on ourselves, each other, and the natural world.

i truly see it as a means to solve some of the significant problems that we face in the world.

the couchiching community initaitive

A series highlighting the good works of the OEE partners to which PACT will be donating. 

Ross McIntyre answers some questions about his work with The Couchiching Community Initiative in Orillia.

1) What is CCI? What was the inspiration behind it?

The CCI began over two years ago. Since 1946, Camp Couchiching has seen the transformative power of camp and outdoor ed. In 2011, we made plans to explore other outlets for these great experiences. Camp and Outdoor Ed. have an incredible impact on participants. It can boost self-esteem, increase attitudes towards physical health, improve environmental awareness, lower stress and anxiety, and help with socialization. Since the  camp and outdoor ed. experience is such a valuable one, we asked 'how else could we do this?' The answer was the Couchiching Community Initiative. 

A community focus made sense. Every camp is it's own micro-community and, typically, they are excellent examples of healthy and balanced communities. This thought was the seed for what we've grown here in Orillia.

2) How does it impact the community?

The impact on the community has been growing in scope with the CCI itslef. We focus on Programs and Partnerships. Regarding programs, we visit local schools as a cost-free way of engaging with camp, we're involved with initiatives like National Youth Week and the community gardens, and we also have taken a lead in founding a local organization called Stand Up! Orillia Against Bullying to localize and address the issue of bullying. Most camps are inclusive and bullying is a small or non-existent problem. We thought there was something to this that we could learn from and share and we were right. 

Partnerships have been another huge part of our community engagement efforts. There are always collaborative and reciprocal possibilities with other organizations so we've spent a lot of time finding those good fits. We are truly moving towards a more collaborative and less competitive society and non-profits and charities seem to be the first organizations really making use of this approach. We've had great success in partnering with Georgian College on several programs, both ours and theirs, and the Orillia campus is dedicating a great deal of resources to community education and partenrships. We are both on the same wavelength and are willing to commit to action, which is how the win-win situation emerges. The same can be said of the Orillia Youth Centre, Boys and Girls Club of Orillia, Couchiching Conservancy, Mariposa Songwriter's Club, and nearly all the local schools.

It has been great to have some successes over the last two year but, as we continue to grow, we hope the real impact will be seen 5, 10 , or 20 years down the road.

3) What does it mean to you personally?

There is absolutely nothing that I'd rather be doing or working on. Having worked with youth for over 10 years in a variety of capacities, I realize that I personally need to be in a role that involves creating social value. I tend to put a lot of time and extra thought into my work and, acknowledging that, I realized that I'd better be doing something that I was passionate about.

Camp Couchiching staff and directors at all levels are open to change and trying something new. This openness is key, especially in times where many camps, non-profits, or charities are plateauing or worse. I feel that if there's benefit to what we do in camps and outdoor education, we should actively be eliminating the idea of an 'off season'. This, of course, requires resources and people to champion the idea BUT it requires less resources than you think and, as far as champions of this cause go, there are many more of them out there than you think too.

So, for me the CCI is a rallying point for my passions: camp, outdoor ed, youth engagement, and community building.


camp outlook

A series highlighting the good works of the OEE partners to which PACT will be donating.

Camp Outlook Information

By: Sheryl Yip

1) What is Camp Outlook?

Camp Outlook is a volunteer-run registered Ontario charity devoted to providing youth from the Kingston Area between 13 and 17 with an opportunity to experience wilderness camping.
Each summer, our volunteer staff members lead groups of four to six youth on 7-, 9-, and 15-day canoe and portaging trips in Algonquin Park in July and August. Volunteer staff are often university students and are prepared with an intensive month of training in which they learn no-trace camping techniques, first-aid, conflict resolution and many other skills required to lead wilderness excursions.
Over time, the organization expanded to include a Fall/Winter program that continues to offer weekend camping trips to Frontenac Provincial Park where youth take part in activities like snowshoeing, hiking, and shelter-building. Like the Summer Program, the Fall/Winter Program is also offered on a donation-only basis.
Outlook’s campers are youth who are referred by schools and social agencies based on the following criteria: that they face various social and/or economic challenges and that they would benefit from a wilderness experience. Camp Outlook often provides these campers with their first wilderness experience. With positive and caring support from their trip leaders, many youth learn how to better face and appreciate challenges both inside and outside of the Park. Camp Outlook offers this out-tripping program to its campers on the basis of no set fee.
Core Values:
- The worth and potential of youth experiencing social, behavioural, economic or other challenges
- The therapeutic value of wilderness tripping
- The encouragement of individual ability and self-esteem in a unique environment
- The valuable contribution of volunteers to society through work with youth
Core Purpose:
- To encourage youth to realize their worth as individuals, their abilities, and their potential to achieve.

2) What was the inspiration behind it?

Outlook was started in 1970 by Ron Kimberley, a Queen’s University Medical Student, who was a camping enthusiast and believer of the therapeutic value of the wilderness. For over 40 years of operation, Outlook has provided summer and winter camping services to youth free of charge through the generosity of volunteer staff, private donors, and fundraising drives.

3) How does it impact the community? 

For over 40 years this volunteer program has provided untold benefits to the Kingston community  Completing a 9-day canoe trip can cause a remarkable boost in confidence for a youth who is often made to feel that success is not an option for him or her.
- Camp Outlook has established partnerships with a number of social agencies and schools throughout its 43 years of operation.
- Outlook only takes youth on trip who have been referred by a social agency or school, and we have developed a strong relationship with these agencies over the years.
- The Children's Aid Society of Kingston has referred many youth who could benefit from the Outlook experience. The organization has been sending youth to us for many years.
- Youth Diversion is a small program within the Kingston School Board that supports students through their high school careers. Youth Diversion sends dozens of youth to Camp Outlook every year based on the firsthand observation of how an Outlook trip can change a youth’s life
- Last year, Outlook teamed up with Kingston Sexual Assault Centre to send out a female-only trip with youth who are victims of sexual assault. This trip was a huge success and both organizations have committed to continuing the partnership.
- Outlook has also worked with Girls Inc., an organization that offers educational programs to support girls in their communities, to boost the enrollment of female campers.
- Outlook also gets camper referrals from the Limestone District School Board, which has schools in Napanee, Kingston and the Frontenac district. Additionally, Outlook receives referrals from Children`s Aid Societies and School Boards from surrounding areas including Belleville, Trenton and Bancroft.

4) What does it mean to you personally?

As a Youth Canoe Trip Leader for Camp Outlook in 2008, I witnessed first-hand how a wilderness trip can create a transformative environment in which campers have unique opportunities to develop life skills, social competencies and resiliency. In Camp Outlook, I see a reflection of my own passion for providing support to youth so that they can carry their new skills and successes forward to manage the complex challenges of their lives.

5) My history with Camp Outlook

I have been volunteering with Camp Outlook since 2008. In my first year, I volunteered as a canoe trip leader. Then in 2009, I was one of the summer directors. Since then, I have been a member of the Board of Directors


Taking Pity on a Stranded Traveller

Recently, due to all sorts of immigration laws I still don’t fully understand, I was forced to leave the trip for a few of days while the rest of the crew crossed deep into Minnesota.

The plan seemed great. I was going to get picked up just north of the border at Arrow Lake by Thunder Bay paddling legend Darrell Makin, spend two nights at his place going over maps and getting some inside information on our upcoming Lake Superior paddle, then meet the crew back down near the border. Flawless.

Of course, things don’t always go according to plan. By the time I was dropped off at a public boat launch in Little Pigeon Bay, within sight of the US border, the rest of the crew was still four days hard travel away.

This normally wouldn’t be a problem, but at the time I had no tent. With thunderstorms on the horizon, I strung a tarp up between two trees, sat down beneath a giant NO CAMPING sign and kept my fingers crossed the weather wouldn’t be too bad.

But in the end there was no need to worry. Since our route seems to be filled with the nicest people on earth, it only took about two hours for someone to find me, offer me dinner and give me a place to sleep.

So that’s how I ended up staying with the Maxwells of Little Pigeon Bay for 4 days.

Shane, the one who convinced the rest of his family to take in a dirty and stranded traveller, found me under the trees while he was driving his ATV and took me straight to their amazing camp on the shore of Lake Superior. Without question they took me in, fed me huge meals every night and day and set me up in a camper trailer to keep me dry and comfortable.

Shane took me on tours of the local area, Barbara made sure I was never out of arm’s reach of food, and Wayne kept me entertained with stories around the campfire at night. And all of them maintained total faith in my story, even with each passing day and passing promise that my friends would be arriving soon. I think towards the end they suspected they might be stuck with me forever, but still it seemed no problem to them.

In the end the crew arrived of course, and true to form the Maxwells put on a great send-off feast for all of us.

So all of us, me especially, would like to send out a huge thank you to the family that took in a stranded traveller without a moment’s hesitation. You guys are truly awesome.



PACT PORTAGING- The Grand Portage

The Grand Portage is a 13.6km trail through the woods that bypasses the last 33.6km of the Pigeon River.  It winds through swift rapids and turbulent falls lined with steep slippery basalt cliffs. Not an ideal situation for paddlers. To bypass these dangers the North-West Company used the Grand Portage. A trail through the woods that allowed safe and speedy passage of its people and goods.
The Grand Portage acted as a halfway mark for the NWCo, separating the large lake country to the east from the rivers and smaller lakes to the west. Supplies and trade goods were brought from Montreal on 36' canot du maitre's, while canot du nord's would bring furs from the remotest stretches of the Canadian wilderness. Here is where the company's employees would gather once a year for a great Rendezvous. Two weeks of business and pleasure, celebrating the company's successes and planning for its future.

For us, Grand Portage represented a huge milestone - our longest portage of the trip, and a spiritual halfway point. Leaving the wild west behind for the more familiar east.

We arrived at the north end of the National Park at the site of Fort Charlotte. After rescuing our canoe, (see "Our Canoe Runneth Over") we sat down and made a plan.
What was the most efficient way to carry our 300 lb. North canoe and plus our gear 13.6km?
Our strategy involved complicated mathematics and a giant game of leapfrog. We calculated that it took three times longer to move the canoe than the same distance covered with just packs. So we would move the canoe for three hours down the trail, and then doubleback to the packs in under an hour and bring the packs to the boat in just over an hour. There's five hours gone!
We decided to move the canoe for as long as we had light the first night, which ended up being three hours - about 6km covered.
We had a feast (less carrying weight) and slept that night at the Fort Charlotte campsite, back at the west end of the portage.

The next morning it was haul the bags to the canoe, move the canoe, double back for packs etc. We took our lunch just over the halfway mark of the trail. Then, excited about finishing, we decided to abandon our leapfrog mission and push the canoe all the way through to the end.

And push we did. After a week of the hardest portaging and tripping leading up the Grand, we were exhausted. Though the trail was cut recently, and to voyageur canoe width, the sheer length of it was enough to call all previous body harm to return. Imagine holding a bathtub on your shoulder for hours through the woods, over duckwalks, creek bridges and beaver ponds. The weight pushing you down into the mud, causing your side and back to scream in rebellion. Your mind is not sure whether to both laugh at the ridiculous of the situation and to curse at its injustice.

When the walls of the Grand Portage fort came into view we started excitedly shouting in our limited French vocabulary. Then through the trees we got our first glimpse of Lake Superior. A blessed open body of water promising no portaging for weeks. A sweeter reward we could not think of.

It was six thirty by the time the canoe was resting on the shore of Gitchigumi, the Great Water.

We met Margaret, historical gardener of the Grand Portage National Monument who pulled some strings and got us permission to camp in the voyageur's encampment display outside the fort's walls. How fitting! Now we could rest our weary bodies in true historical style! Tomorrow we would probe to be a living display of the voyageur to the tourist who were curious about our journey.

Feeling we had just finished one of the most demanding tasks on our trip. We sat down on the grass.

Then we looked at a watch. Seven-thirty.

Then we started the 12km there and back again for our packs.

All said and done we'd hiked 40.8km.  Our total time portaging was approximately 14 hours and 20 minutes for all six voyageurs to cross the finish line. 

Highly recommended for anyone wishing for a little exercise.


PACT PORTAGING-Portaging Up River

On day 45 we had our first official portage.  Having conquered Lake Winnipeg, PACT was in fine paddling form ready for our next challenge- paddling upstream on the Winnipeg River.  There are a total of eight dams on the river, all smaller than the three previous gargantuan hydro dams we were escorted around, but still big in their own right.  PACT was ready to portage. 

We portaged these dams with four crew members- two at the bow and two at the stern. One of our major concerns on our first few portages were our baby deer legs that we had acquired from sitting for the 10-12 hours per day for the first portion of our journey.  Our legs were seldom utilized or excersied and getting scrawny.  For the first two portages we had four paddlers on the boat and the other two with packs ready to tag in at any moment or for extra support.   It didn’t take long before we were very comfortable with utilizing only four people and the other two to begin the gear transfer.  Most of the portages were along wide trails, side roads and across paths leading just around or right though the property.  The distances usually ranged from about 400 meters to just over one kilometer.  With very aggressive wet weather in northern Ontario, all of the dams were wide open and lots of water was flowing fast!  More water made paddling right up to the start of the portages a little more challenging at times or added a few 100 more meters to the length of some others.   

The most memorable portage occurred at Pointe du Bois.  Our research informed us that this was a very straightforward and short portage, even being described as “easy” in one report we researched.  However, while the previous paddlers who portaged this dam were correct, what was not taken into account was the current revitalization project occurring at Manitoba’s oldest hydrological dam.  There was a 24-hour per day, multi-billion dollar project, which was giving new life to this historic dam.  Due to the construction, we could not get anywhere remotely close to the portage.  Thus began our first relatively large portage of our journey- an over 3km detour through the streets of the vacated ghost town of Point du Bois, up a highway and around the construction site, eventually back onto the river.  It was an adventure of a portage, which caused some tender shoulders, but more importantly would help us to prepare for what was to come in the near future.   


Celebrate the Small Stuff

It's true we have some comforts with us. Thermarests, headlamps, GPS, sturdy footwear. But I've noticed what really makes the journey all the more pleasant are the little things. Here's just a sampling of my favourites, I'm sure the rest of the crew have their own.

Polarised Lenses - I bought new sunglasses before the trip and I will never go back. I feel like I can finally see the world in all the colour and three dimensions it was meant to be seen in.

Hard Case for Sunglasses - How many times this has saved my new favourite eye enhancers I'll never know.

The Hand Loop on the Top AND Bottom of our AO Packs - Being able to pick up the pack with a reinforced handle at the two ends of distributed weight has saved the pack and my back.

Eureka 70L Dry Sack - The true unsung hero of the trip. Everybody has one and everybody keeps their entire life in there - completely dry everytime. Plus, two fit into one of the previously mentioned packs like lego. Perfect fit everytime.

Small Pouch near the opening of my Sleeping Bag - once in a while we may pass a town, and once in a while I may purchase a bag of sweet treats for myself, and once in a while I may put a couple of those sweet treats in my sleeping bag for a  little midnight snack. I may.

Celebrating life's small victories,


PACT PORTAGING- Huge Dam Portages!

Canoe tripping encompasses a number of different skill sets; paddling, building a tent, paddling, sleeping on the ground, not losing tent pegs, starting a fire…maintaining that fire, cooking over that fire, paddling, more paddling and for pleasure and/or pain- the sacred art of portaging.  Beginning our journey on the North Saskatchewan River allowed PACT to ease into the first 45 days without ever having to hoist our beloved boat upon our shoulders.  That is not to say however there were no obstacles in our way in that first month and a-half.  Nearing the end of the North Saskatchewan, found us on our first lake of the trip- Lake Tobin. Before entering however, we had to pass the François Finlay Hydro Dam.  We got news of an agreement between the Saskatchewan Government and any paddler who was looking to paddle the historic waterway route would receive a free shuttle service on behalf of Sask Power.  Having already began to mentally prepare for our first portage, we were a little hesitant to allow a trailer to be the first to get to officially portage our vessel, however after a brief PACT meeting we made the call.  It was the right call.  Within an hour a van, with large trailer in tow found us on the shore at the edge of the Extreme Danger Do Not Cross boundary line.  The journey of portaging the canoe around the dam would have been a great ordeal.  The twenty minute shuttle ride took us down a maze of dirt roads several kilometers away from the river, down a highway, through two locked gates and finally to the base of the east side of the gigantic cement barricade.  At the two other hydro dams before we got to Lake Winnipeg this was also the very necessary protocol.  Although a little perturbed that these obstacles were not overcome by PACT power alone, the very essential assistance was greatly appreciated.


Searching for PACT, chasing PACT, finding PACT

Searching for PACT

              Chasing PACT

                        Finding PACT

It was holiday time and we wanted to see

The PACT team in action, now where would they be?

We checked on the website and what did it say

Within a few days they would hit Thunder Bay

A last minute decision, we left in the night

Arrived in TO and caught a quick flight

We emailed and texted Scott to say

"We're coming to see you in Thunder Bay"

We checked into our rooms, at Lakehead U

Simple and clean, economical too

Then looked at the website again to see

Just where exactly PACT might be

They were paddling along Lake Superior

Perhaps we could see them along the shore

It was not yet noon and we had all day

We jumped into the car and went on our way

What a great plan, or so we thought

To find the closest connecting spot

Where the road meets the lake, we hoped to find

The PACT team paddling along the shoreline

We drove and we drove and we drove some more

Always heading towards the shore

We stopped for advice along the way

From the friendly folk of Thunder Bay

"Keep going" they said - "that's the right way

The closest shoreline is in the next bay"

And sure enough they were certainly right

As Lake Superior came into sight

Oh my goodness, we thought, did we make a mistake

Could we possibly find them on this huge Great Lake

The chances of finding the PACT team canoe

Would be slim to none, from this point of view

We drove down a lane, for a closer look

A lady was sitting reading her book

We told her our story, she said "come on down

To my waterfront shore, we can all look around"

We looked to the left and we looked to the right,

Not a boat, nor a single canoe was in sight

So she sent us on further to a lodge on a hill

The view was fantastic we might see them still

The lodge was closed, but the owner was kind

She said "use my chairs, and the internet line"

We soon figured out, they had not yet passed through

The tracking site told us, 'bout an hour or two

We checked, oh so often, binoculars steady,

If they showed up, we would be ready

Then all of a sudden just off to the right

A voyageur canoe, came into sight,

Some 5 miles off shore and heading our way

We’d soon be connected for the rest of the day

We tore down the hill and went back to the shore,

We shouted, and whistled, and shouted some more

But the distance was great and they did not know

So they paddled right by us, as we watched them go

But that did not stop us, our mission was set

We would follow the PACT team, and we would connect

There were still four more places that we could go

To catch the canoeists to say "hello"

So we ran down the road with our story to tell

With property owners who helped us to yell


No response from the paddlers, so intent were they

To continue their trek to Thunder Bay

We saw one final place, it would be the last

Would they stop to see us, or just go on past


Then out of the woods a surprise did appear

15 youth on a hike, in all of their gear

"Look o'er there" I yelled, "do you see?

That canoe going by, just past that old tree"


"Will you help us by shouting so that they can hear

We've chased them all day and they haven't come near"

They ran to the shore excited, to view

The great voyageur and it's hearty crew


Asked one of the youth, "what's the name of your son

Perhaps we can chant altogether as one"

"It’s Scott," I replied, so they chanted quite loud

Now surely they'd hear us, with such a good crowd


Rewarded at last the PACT team did pause

To acknowledge our cheering and noisy applause

And they raised up their paddles, across that bay

Then paddled on by for the 5th time that day


We laughed and we laughed, and we thanked the troop,

Drove back to the city, where we could regroup

And later that night around 8 o'clock

We finally found PACT, believe it or not


6  showers later, they were clean and neat

Then off to a restaurant for something to eat

The next 2 days there was lots to do

As they rested, restocked, and fixed their canoe


Then soon it was time to leave Thunder Bay

And keep paddling onward, day after day

They started quite early, about 6 o'clock

They packed the canoe by the side of the dock


We watched them shove off, as the sun it did rise

With lumps in our throats, and tears in our eyes

A great group, a team, committed together

To continue their journey, with memories forever!


by Ginny 

(Scott's Mom)

If You Are What You Eat...I Am A Scoop of Peanut Butter

Believe it or not, we eat like kings. Not the sort of king that will be remembered for their benevolence either. We eat like the kinds of kings that need their thrones replaced every couple of weeks.

We packed our food with bad weather in mind.  Well the sun is shining and we are flying across this country faster than we had ever dreamed . One of the biggest advantages of being ahead of schedule is the introduction of 'second breakfast'. Mmmmmm second breakfast!

Having never packed for such a large adventure we seemed to have packed roughly 17 times as much peanut butter as we really need. If you happen to see us paddling through your town, don't be surprised if you see us passing around a jar of creamyyyyy goodness.   Mmmm peanut butter!

We also have become bakers.  Without access to any sort of refrigeration we have the pleasure of cooking up fresh loafs everyday.  And YUP, we accidentally overpacked that too. Best mistakes we've ever made! Nothing like a loaf of cinnamon raison with second breakfast or a slice of garlic bread with dinner.

A full trip is a happy trip and we are smiling ear to ear.


Thrown into the fire - Serena's Story

The PACT crew crossed briefly into the boarder territories of the USA. Because of the need for rural boarder crossing passes, our Aussie broski James wasn’t be able to cross the boarder as we had previously hoped. For this reason, we contacted another camp tripper to join us for a week of paddling, portaging and pleasantries in the border waters. The PACT trip welcomed guest star and tripper Serena Deketele. Serena has just graduated from Queen’s University and was planning her move up to Thunder Bay to begin her studies at Northern Ontario School of Medicine. Conveniently enough, Thunder Bay was our next resupply stop and not too far from our border crossings. Thus, Serena took James’ place in the crew as we crossed continuously between Canada and the US.


Serena’s PACT Journal

Day 0

            I’m packing up all my usual canoe trip attire, anxiously waiting to join my trip friends on their incredible journey across Canada. I had been following them throughout the summer, wishing I could be a part of the PACT experience! So, when the message came from the crew asking when I was making my big move up to Thunder Bay and if I wanted to join a week across north western Ontario, I prematurely catapulted myself the 15 hours to TBay to join up with them on day 75 at Arrow Lake.

Day 1

            Day 75 of the paddle across Canada has presented me with four old friends, two new friends and countless levels of trip stank from the crewmembers. As my tender nose starts to adapt to the rank smells of 75 days of trip, I can’t help but notice the unity of the crew’s stokes and the smiles that are stretched across their sun kissed faces. After all the days of paddling, dawn until desk, the members seem to not have only grown physically stronger but have also developed an indescribable strength in their friendships. Everyone continues to laugh, be kind and respectful to one another even after spending every waking hour together since May.

Day 2

            Lets take a minute to think about the crew’s beloved voyageur canoe…


-       Authenticity: PACT aims to replicate the fur trade routes in the same fashion as the original Canadian canoeists. To do this they must transport all their goods as a team in their 25-foot canoe.

-       Paddling Speed: The well-practiced PACT crew can reach up to 50km in a day paddling at a max of 8km/hour. This helps them fly across the gigantic bodies of water that were traversed by the fur traders

-       Prizes: People love to give goodies (food, lodgings, etc) to people paddling a big canoe.


-       Weight: six people must carry the 300 pound fiberglass canoe. This weight is not distributed evenly (50 lbs per person); each person could be crushed by up to 120 pounds on their shoulders. When one who has not been doing 75 days of trip is thrown onto a portage aptly named “Long Portage,” this weight comes as quite the shock.

-       Width: The canoe is about six feet wide with the voyageurs underneath… most trails are not cut for this width and thus as we try to portage the boat we are pushed into the bush to be cut to smithereens by aggressive shrubbery. 

-       Rapids: because of the weight in the canoe with the paddlers, barrels and packs the boat has a tendency to bottom out across rapids. Once we reach Thunder Bay our ride will be in much need of repair.

Day 3

            Today we did Fowl Portage… It was foul (hardy harrharr… never gets old). This portage was 390 rods… what a rod is… I still haven’t figured out… But I’m told about 2.5km. Before the portage we took some time for ourselves with a beautiful 15-minute hike up one of the many majestic cliffs we’ve been paddling past over the last few days. There is no doubt about the beauty of this rugged piece of border land.

            Anyway, back to the portage… this one was 3 hours of knee-deep mud, bloodthirsty mosquitoes and branches and spiky bushes that jumped out and bit tired voyageurs.

           Finally, we arrived on the Pigeon River. On our left was Canada and on our right the United States. We paddled into the dark trying to find a suitable place to spend the night and finally decided on a flat but overgrown piece of turf. We woke up surrounded by 5-foot tall shrubs and about a square meter to prepare our breakfast and ourselves for the day.

Day 4

            Some days are weird… today was one of those days.

We continued down the Pigeon River and decided to check out what looked like the beginning of a portage. As we made our way down this portage we discovered that had we not taken it we would have launched ourselves over a very tall, and very beautiful waterfall, Partridge Falls.

            We finally made it to the mouth of the Grand Portage! Food prizes were left for us from our trip friend and his wonderful daughter who we had been crossing paths with consistently. As we ate our goodies we sat at the campsite at the beginning of the portage planning our attack of the 13.6km venture. We hear banging in the river and Hollye says it sounds like a boat. Peter goes to investigate. Upon hearing Peter’s scream the entire crew bolts to the river leaving a cartoon-like tornado at the picnic table; the boat had not been tied and had taken off down the rapids! We caught up to the boat by frantically running down the shore - Scott gracefully plowing through the water - and managed, after some time, to pull the boat back up stream to the take out… The boat was then removed from the water so we didn’t reencounter the same fate.

            After lunch and setting up camp at the start of the portage we trudged the canoe the first 6km.

Day 5

            Today we did the Grand Portage… The 41 kilometers of portaging (the portage had to be done 3 times, once with the canoe, a return trip, and once with the gear) took us about 15 hours in total. Thankfully the maintenance crew was ABSOLUTELY AMAZING and had a clear 6-foot wide trail the entire 13.6km!!! THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU! We arrived at the Grand Portage National monument to a warm welcome from the historic gardener. Fittingly we camped in the authentic voyageur encampment. Feeling bent and broken we folded our crippled bodies into tents for a painful and restless sleep.

            Ugh… Even just thinking about it makes me too tired to go on....

Day 6

            Today we became a part of the Grand Portage Monument scene as the modern day voyageurs. It was a delight to be able to share our first hand experience of what a difficult job the fur traders had. We also got to take a walk through the historical trading post and learn more about our voyageur ancestors, from what they ate, drank, did in their free time to how they traded, who they traded amongst, seasonal changes in trade and so on.

            In the early afternoon we finally set off on Lake Superior to track down James. After a stop at Hat Point to offer tobacco to the lake we found him at dinnertime at a camp belonging to a kind local family who took fantastic care of us! We feasted with them and chatted long into the night. I have never seen such acts of kindness from strangers as I have on this trip.

Day 7


After a successful day of sailing, thank you X-Man Storm for the tail wind, we were picked up by a kind couple about 20km from Thunder Bay. Captain Joe and his lovely wife towed the canoe and invited us aboard their fantastic yacht. We reached the Thunder Bay Yacht Club in about 30 minutes and prepared the boat and gear for a rest day.

Scott’s marvelous parents met us and treated us to a delicious dinner! THANK YOU! We got to spend some down time together as a completed crew and celebrate the arrival at PACT's biggest resupply city.

Day 8-9

            The PACT crew has spent a fun and quiet rest day at my home in Thunder Bay and I’m sad to see them go. The crew fetched their resupply from the Roots 73 store in Thunder Bay and were welcomed warmly by the staff who had prepared an incredible bulletin board explaining the PACT initiative and route.

I’ve had such a fantastic week with the crew and would love to continue on their grand adventure. There isn’t a kinder, funnier group of people! I hope to see all my dear friends again soon and wish them safe travels across the rest of Superior (may Storm be at their backs throughout)! James and Marc, you’re as fantastic as ever. Scott and Pete, SO glad I got to know you two fab cats better! You’re incredible fellas! Marissa and Hollye, I’m so happy to say I’ve made two new friends with two strong, honest and down to earth ladies. PACT, your strength and persistence are an inspiration. You’re capable of anything and everything and I love you to pieces! Miss you already! GOOD LUCK! xo                      -Serena


The Difference Between a Campsite and a Great Campsite

The PACT team isn’t fussy when it comes to choosing a place to sleep for the night. Over the last couple of months we’ve slept under bridges, in long grass full of weird bugs, on sharp loose rocks, wet moss and even small muddy spits jutting out into the river. Sometimes a campsite is just a place to pitch our tents, cook a meal and get some rest.

But every now and then, luck and circumstance bring us to a great campsite. Flat, short grass to set up our tents, a fire pit already made, smooth rolling granite to walk on and plenty of trees for shade. There we can hang our wet clothes to dry, put up a hammock, sit around the campfire and feel like kings of our small patch of wilderness.

On a trip like this, it’s the small things that can really make you happy. A comfortable place to sit and eat a good meal while recounting the day’s adventures against a spectacular sunset can put us in a good mood for days. A comfortable sleep on flat dry ground makes the following day much more productive. It’s days like those that make the tough, wet nights easier to get through.

Our Canoe Runneth Over

Upon reaching the site of Fort Charlotte, the start of the Grand Portage, we were an excited bunch of voyageurs. We quickly unloaded our boat and brought our gear over to the campsite. Waiting at the campsite were some food prizes left by our wilderness travelling friends, Rollie and Karina Johnson.

Rollie and Karina are a father daughter tripping team, paddling a beautiful cedar canoe of Rollie’s make. They spent ten days travelling the Quetico / Boundary Waters with the aim of completing the Grand Portage. We met them in Quetico and played leapfrog for the next couple of days on the trail. When we met on portage, the Johnsons always doubled back to help with our canoe.  In his youth, Rollie had participated in a 70-day canoe trip from Ely Minnesota to Churchill Manitoba. Karina had completed several voyageur trips of her own. Rollie had even helped in making four cedar and canvas North Canoes and is planning on building another four this coming winter.  Needless to say, these were kindred spirits who were very excited about our trip.

Having reached the Grand Portage a day before us, they left us their extra food to make their portage easier.  Eager to eat anything with a slightly different taste, we emptied the bag on the table and dug in. Pop Tarts, dried fruit, crackers and grape jelly, hot chocolate and apple crisp. What a pre-portage surprise feast!

We then heard the sound of a canoe hitting rocks and thought we should move our boat out of the way so others could come up to the campsite. It’s a big boat – we tend to block portages.

We heard the noises again and I went to check on our boat. More canoe over rock sounds were heard. The rest of the crew realized that in our excitement, no one had bothered to tie up the canoe. Everyone jumped up and made a mad dash for the river, leaving spinning bowls in mid air.

I think that “Larry (Naylor)” enjoyed his solo trip down the Cascade Rapids on the Pigeon River.  Rarely let out on his own, Larry bumped and scraped his way aimlessly over the rapids, always taking the path of least resistance.

Scott was the first to interrupt Larry's new found freedom. The rest of us joining in, we quickly lined the canoe back up the rapids that it had just run.

Lesson: Before you indulge in the prizes friends provide, make sure your canoe is well tied.

Paddle Across Canada TOURS --- Volume The First

As our tour rides across the country, we seem to be destined to bump into our nation’s true hidden gems. We figured some of you may be looking for a unique summer expedition so – BOOM! - PACT is becoming your own personal travel agent. Here is the first  set of highly recommended Canadian travel destinations.

1.     Mystik Lodge, Cumberland House, Saskatchewan

This Northern hunting lodge is well worth the trek. Gary Carriere has turned a river front forest into a five-cabin paradise. There isn’t a living soul that knows the Delta’s history and natural environment better than the lodge’s founder, builder and lead guide. Their guestbook is filled with the kinds of reviews that give you the warm and fuzzies and the walls are filled with years of stuffed hunting trophies. The accommodation is the perfect balance of rustic and comfort and the people host with sincere hospitality. Most importantly, their cooking is amazing….we would know!

None of us would have ever seen ourselves getting excited about a hunting trip, but something about this place made it the most appealing getaway around. 


2.     Gunn Lake Lodge, Minaki , Ontario

I think we can all agree that cottage life is just the bestest! There really isn’t anything better than a good old-fashioned dock sit afternoon. Who knew there isn’t a better place in the world to do that than in Minaki? Muskoka gets a lot of hype – as it should – but there is just something special about the Winnipeg River area that has us all taking especially long looks at every For Sale sign we pass.

I am sitting peacefully in the Gunn Lake Lodge as I write this recommendation. Life is good! The family that runs this place has welcomed six smelly strangers with open arms. The beds are comfy and plentiful. The kitchen is fully equipped with all your fooding needs. There are also countless couch filled rooms (soft blankets included) and the property is truly amazing.

Not only is this cottage rental spot perfect for a voyageur rest day, but it makes for an equally relaxing getaway for any group looking to kick their feet up and smile. Whether you’re a party of 2 or 200, you will go home feeling fresh. Guaranteed!

If your interested contact Charlie Gibson on Facebook. Tell him you know us….you guys can work something out.

A day in the life of PACT… July 29th 2013

Today is Day 75… or our Platinum Anniversary.  6:00am came pretty early today as we woke up on the site of a portage where there were old trolley tracks that boats once used to get around a small set of rapids. Everyone woke up in great spirits as we went through our usual morning routine while blasting some tunes.  This morning was the first sunny morning we have seen in a few days, and waking up in a dry tent is always a bonus.  Our first portage marked the height of the land where the water shed starts moving in our favor. We now have the current flowing with us and don’t have to battle upstream rivers again for a while. After we completed the short 400-meter muddy portage we had a voyageur tribute to the watershed and celebrated in typical voyageur fashion. We then had to paddle up to Arrow Lake so we could meet our sub-in Serena. We enjoyed a beautiful paddle with large rocky landscapes and flat calm waters. We were greeted by Darrell Makin who brought us a wonderful fruit and chips lunch, which we were very excited to have. Darrell has been helping us with our next upcoming challenge, Lake Superior. PACT is super excited to continue onto our next big portion of the journey. We are hoping to be on the world’s biggest lake for 3 weeks, hopefully less. First thing is first… we have  a 14 km portage into Lake Superior. Over the next couple days PACT will be loading up on carbs and getting good sleeps in before this marathon of a day.  Everyone is happy and excited to keep moving on. 

Signing off for now… Hollye

health is contagious

Something is spreading amongst the PACT crew! Being a small tight knit travelling community of six, we have noticed the introduction of contagions to our crew. Normally, one would be worried about the spread, but in these cases the infected seem to be reacting more positively than prior to exposure. We are  impressed with how being healthy has become contagious in our community.

Here is how its spreading...

Fresh Air. The crew is spending on average 98 per cent of their time outside breathing non-citified air. The effect has been physically stimulating and mentally refreshing to the crew.

Exercise. The crew has been spending long hours paddling - as you might expect - with the result being an increase in strength and endurance.

Sunscreen. Love the skin you're in.

Stretching. Every night we have a stretching session. In an urban environment it might be called yoga, but for us we just call it necessary. It feels great, and really helps the body loosen up from a day of paddling, and helps to get ready for doing it all over again the next day.

Flossing. Patient Zero for this highly contagious habit was Scott. Since its introduction, flossing has been spreading through the group like smooth peanut butter on bannock. Again it has worked its way into our night time routine, with many a gum still getting used to having its food morsel ripped from it.

Brushing Teeth. In an urban context, brushing your teeth might happen twice a day - before you leave in the morning and before bed. For us, when you keep your tooth brush in an easily accessible pocket in your day pack, brushing can be done every time we stop for food. There's even one member of the crew that brushes four times a day!

Early To Bed. Humans need sleep. Especially when paddling all day in the sun. Without the latest season of whatever on netflicks, it is easy to listen to your body's demands and just go to bed. 10:00pm? Best hit the hay - don't want to find yourself pulling an all nighter.