Gunflint Lake to Fort Frances

June 30th to July 9th

Even though it was tempting to spend more time at Gunflint Lodge, Pascal decided he should hit the road, woops,  the water, and get a move on.  On the first evening he met some other paddlers and camped with them.  It was nice to have the company.

By the end of the next day he entered Cache Bay in Quetico Provincial Park.  Here he was greeted by ranger Janice Matichuk who invited him for dinner and a shower (not  sure in which order) and a place to crash.  Janice is the longest serving ranger in the park’s history with 33 seasons to her credit.  Pascal found her to be a very  knowledgeable and interesting person.  He absolutely loved Quetico with all its falls, rapids and wonderful, peaceful scenery.  There were lots of people on the water though which was such a change for him after the solitude of Lake Superior.

At Lac la Croix he tried to take a short cut to avoid Loon Lake.  This proved to be much more difficult and dangerous than expected partly because the waters were a lot higher than normal and he was running into rapids where there weren’t supposed to be any.    Since this part of the route was not heavily travelled and not part of the historic Voyager route, he decided to backtrack to Lac la Croix.  This meant he lost a half days travel but he was comfortable with his decision none the less.  On Loon River he met a fellow paddler, Ron Sherk (the nomader) who has been paddling, hiking and cycling his way around Canada and New Zealand since 2013.

By the time he made it to Loon Lake, the wind had picked up.  The next three days were long and hard. Dealing with strong head winds were very disconcerting for Pascal because progress was very slow through Voyageurs National Park and Rainy Lake (which has the reputation of being difficult to paddle because of prevailing westerly winds and open water). Despite the difficulties Pascal had a friend, Johnny-John Burksman, a May Fly, that stuck with him from Kettle Falls through to Rainy Lake. Pascal had planned to be in Fort Frances for Friday, July 7th. However, by Friday he was still a long way from his destination so he decided to paddle by the light of the moon while on Rainy Lake, hoping the wind would die down in the evening as it often does.  However around 2:00 a.m. the wind picked up again while he was in the middle of an open water crossing which forced him to backtrack to safety and sleep.

Sunday morning he breezed into Fort Frances with a tail wind.  There he was warmly welcomed by the Langevin family who greeted him with posters and cheers from the dock.  Even re-entering Canada through customs was a breeze.  They took his passport number and other information by phone so didn’t have to wait at the marina.  Patrick, Céline, Marie-Mai and Yannick wisked Pascal away to show him the town.

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