Trans-Canada Canoe Expedition
236 Courtland Street
Excelsior, MN 55331
Teacher Couple to Paddle Entire Length of Canada
Excelsior, MN – March 10, 2002 – Mark and Norah Garrison will fulfill a long held dream this summer when they paddle from Minnesota to the Arctic Ocean. The couple's incredibly ambitious route will cover nearly 3,500 miles (5,600 km) in just under four months. Mark, a 5th grade teacher in the Minnetonka School District, and Norah, a Junior High Social Studies Teacher in Hopkins, will bring their passions for exploration, northern culture and teaching together through this expedition. "Wilderness tripping has had such a positive impact on our lives. We want our students to be able to experience it." Mark explains. "Since we can't physically bring them along, we are going to bring the expedition to them."
The couple will communicate with students through their web site at paddlenorth.org. By utilizing research, interviews and photographs, the two will also develop a curriculum that will make the history and geography of Canada come alive for school children here in America. "This is more than a really long canoe trip," Norah says, "it is chance for us to share the rich history of this route with our students, and to show them that dreams can be achieved."
Embarking from the Minnesota -Ontario border on June 14th the two will paddle 20-100 miles per day heading north to Lake Winnipeg on their way to the Churchill River. There, they will paddle upstream from mid July until the end of August. After crossing the continental divide, at the 14 mile Methye Portage, the couple will paddle down the Athabaska, Slave and Mackenzie Rivers to the Arctic Ocean, where they will arrive in mid-October.
Mark and Norah's strong wilderness backgrounds have prepared them well for this expedition.
Norah has been canoeing and backpacking since 1986. She has led numerous canoe trips, and has also led and participated in many lengthy backpack trips in Western Rocky Mountains, Northern Canada and Alaska. She attained her Wilderness First Responder Certification while working for YMCA Camp Widjiwagan before leading a 35-day trip in the Gates of the Arctic Wilderness Area in 1997.
Mark has been canoeing every summer since he was a young boy, and has been on several extended canoe trips, including a 45-day trip on the Hanbury and Thelon Rivers in Northern Canada. He also led a small group from YMCA Camp Widjiwagan on an ambitious 50 day, 1200 mile journey, which went from the Mackenzie River delta, over the Continental Divide via the Rat River, and down the Yukon River. "That trip got me thinking of taking an even longer trip." Mark recalls. "When Norah and I started talking about it again this fall we got very excited about the impact that such a trip can have."
Mark and Norah have traveled extensively together and have co-led many canoe trips. Their interest in northern culture, lifestyles and landscape was peaked during the years they spent living in remote Eskimo villages in Alaska. They look forward to supplementing their knowledge of the north with this expedition through the Canadian wilderness and to including their students in their bold expedition's dream.
For more information, including their itinerary, curriculum plans, sponsors and photographs, call (952) 380-9727 or e-mail: email@example.com.
Posted on Sun, Jun. 02, 2002 story:PUB_DESC
On the Outside
I have a little problem. I don't want to be here.
This is a recurring dilemma that peaks each year about the time the aspens leaf out and the blackflies materialize.
It is not the bugs that make me want to leave. It's simply that every year when the water liquefies and the days grow long, I want to "light out for the Territory,'' as Huck Finn once said.
Doesn't really matter what the territory is. The canoe country. Lake Superior. Manitoba. The Northwest Territories.
There is no shortage of territory. There is only a shortage of time.
I suspect I am not alone in this urge to be somewhere else. Inside the cab of every pickup packing a slide-in camper and every Suburban hauling an Airstream down the road is someone who wants to be on the move. Minnesota's Ann Bancroft is paddling the Great Lakes to the St. Lawrence River. Duluth-born Mark Garrison, now of the Twin Cities, is paddling from Lake of the Woods to the Arctic Ocean. A friend of mine is taking a three-month sabbatical, headed for the Northwest.
John Steinbeck tried to explain this urge to roam in the first chapter of his novel "Travels With Charley.''
"When I was very young and the urge to be someplace else was on me,'' Steinbeck wrote, "I was assured by mature people that maturity would cure this itch. When years described me as mature, the remedy prescribed was middle age. In middle age I was assured that greater age would calm my fever and now that I am fifty-eight perhaps senility will do the job. Nothing has worked.''
I do not suppose that everyone possesses this yearning to be on the road, on the water, on the move. I know many who are content to spend weekend after weekend at the cabin, looking out over the same lake, listening to the same loons. There is much to be said for the cabin life. But I'm afraid I'm addicted to distant horizons.
Give me the bugs, the cold, the rain. Give me moving water, wind in the face, cracked and calloused hands. I'm not sure what's wrong with me, but I may never outgrow the need to sleep on the ground.
I'm not sure where this came from. My parents were not particularly given to travel, although we spent a week every summer in the Rockies. Maybe that's where this urge was born.
Or it might have been when I was an adolescent, and I came across a battered paperback copy of "Kon-Tiki,'' Thor Heyerdahl's account of a 4,300-mile journey by balsa raft from Peru to near Tahiti. I devoured that book. It unlocked something in my psyche and opened my eyes to possibilities far beyond the hay fields of my native Kansas.
I remain hopelessly lured by the trail. With others similarly afflicted, including my wife, I've paddled to Hudson's Bay, rafted a remote river in Alaska, canoed the quiet and imposing Canadian shore of Lake Superior. Wonderful journeys, all of them. But I want more. I want a whole summer. I want a year. I want forever.
A couple of friends of mine from Ely spent four months -- all summer and more -- paddling the canoe country two summers ago. Did that satiate their desire for wilderness travel?
"Rather than cure it, it intensified it,'' one of them said the other day.
They're planning another summer-long trip for 2004.
Steinbeck understood this a long time ago.
"I fear the disease is incurable,'' he wrote.
SAM COOK is a News Tribune outdoors writer. Reach him at (218) 723-5332, (800) 456-8282 or firstname.lastname@example.org.