Angle to Key West: Sault Sainte Marie (8/20-23)

International Bridge, Sault Ste. Marie
Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan – August 20-23, 2013

Three cardboard boxes lay open, their contents scattered across the floor. Bags of groceries sit next to them, fifteen, maybe twenty days of food. A wetsuit lies on three pounds of granola. A sleeping bag leans on boxes of pasta. Bottles of fuel are piled next to gloves and a tarp. Everything I have in the boat is there with everything I asked my dad to send. It covers the floor and I take it up piece by piece over two days trying to decide what stays and goes.

Everything changes now. Superior is a different piece of water than any other. It’s cold and big. There are long remote stretches. Cliffs guard the shore for miles at a time. Storms appear fast out nothing. And when that’s over, portage after portage await me with winter knocking at the door before I’ll have a chance to change gear again.

Thoughts and possibilities flood my mind. I form two piles and watch equipment migrate from one to the other and back again as I digest a thousand scenarios.

I sit still for days in Sault Ste. Marie, resting in Sue and Jeff’s quiet home on the St. Mary’s River. I watch freighters pass and look at maps. I eat until my stomach hurts and I don’t feel hungry anymore. I take a shower for the first time since Ottawa. The hot water runs over my shoulders, wipes away weeks of dirt, and I feel human again. I give my body a chance to fill in the thousand tiny cracks that fourteen months have worn into it.

Then piece by piece, I pack until every inch of space is full. I shove food as far up the nose and tail of the boat as I can. I squeeze in sleeping bags and tarps, shove first aid and warm jackets into drybags, and find space for fuel bottles, a wetsuit, and the wheels of my cart. I strap the two Franks to the back and ship a box of extra gear to International Falls, just a hundred miles from the end.

“Two and a half more months,” I think. “Two and a half more months and this is all over.”

The words sound long and short at the same time.

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5 responses to “Angle to Key West: Sault Sainte Marie (8/20-23)

  1. You are very wise to prepare for Gitche Gumee. The big water of Superior will provide you plenty of adventure. I’m looking forward to hearing the stories as your incredible journey continues on to the Northwest Angle.

  2. I want a picture of the cosmonaut diving cap on you, if you kept it……….Enjoy it D, be smart and a great celebration Cuban Pig Roast awaits you…………..

  3. If he weren’t smart he would never have made it this far! But I bet the Cuban Pig Roast awiting him will give him extra impetus!!!

  4. Hope those days of relax and refresh and refuel are serving you well !! Fall has shown her fickle face and I’m sure is stretching you on the Big Water!

  5. I a betting you are digging your paddle deep into the Big Lake by now. I hope the waves treat you kindly, and the giant vessels, too. I have found myself thinking of you at unusual moments during the day, and smiling, as I know you are making waves.Get there (November is still a long way off!)

    If you do not already own a beautiful, authentic Voyaguer’s blanket, someone up there ought to award you one when you land at your destination! (plus, I am guessing you will benefit by owning one on your NEXT voyage!)

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