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TRAINING PADDLE IN MARCH. PHOTO: ALAN POELMAN


RANTA AND SPITZII ON A


This voyageur’s six essentials for a successful cross-continental canoe trip [ CANOES ]


Mike Ranta’s Ride


How did Mike Ranta plan to follow up a speedy record-breaking solo trip across Canada in 2015? By doing it again—but faster. Unofficially already holding the title for longest solo canoe trip, Ranta


departed the West Coast on April 1, 2016, from Fisherman’s Memorial in Steveston, British Columbia. He’s aiming to break his own seven-month record over 7,500 kilometers and arrive in distant Cape Breton, Nova Scotia before his 45th


birthday at the end of September. Along the way,


he’s raising funds for Canada’s war heroes and invited veterans to meet him en route and sign his canoe so he and four-legged tripmate, Spitzii, can show their appreciation. These are the six essentials fueling his ride.


SPITZII, PUREBRED FINNISH SPITZ “Spitzii turned eight on April 3 and we celebrated on the Fraser River. He’s my best friend, my bear scarer, and my campsite soldier,” says Ranta. “He and I have such a great bond and this is our third big trip we’ve done together. I wouldn’t leave without him.” As fearless as he is handsome, Spitzii hangs out on the bow deck and watches for rocks, logs and beavers, barking to alert Ranta when he sees something.


ATTA THE COCONUT “I found a coconut when I was paddling near Prince Albert National Park in Saskatchewan. On my next trip, it disappeared on me,” says Ranta. “I did the whole trip and the coconut was gone about two years. When I was reconing for this trip I decided to camp where I stayed last time, and I’ll be damned if I didn’t find it. Spitz found it in amongst the grass. I call it Atta The Coconut. I’m from Atikokan, Ontario. Our mayor’s not impressed because he doesn’t like when people call us Atikoconuts, he prefers we call ourselves Atikokanites.”


24 | Canoeroots


SOURIS RIVER WILDERNESS 18 “This is its maiden voyage,” says Ranta of his red Kevlar ride. “It’s done great, it tracks nice and is bulletproof. I can’t say enough good things about it, actually.”


HAND-CRAFTED MEANY XY PADDLE XY Company’s paddles are handmade by Don and Spencer Meany in Ranta’s hometown. They’re named after great explorers and voyageurs such as Alexander Mackenzie, Simon Fraser, William McGillivary, George Simpson, David Thompson and La Verendrye. “It’s a bent shaft, and an amazing paddle,” says Ranta.


HOMEMADE BIRCHBARK HAT “A lot of kids call me the pirate when I go by,” says Ranta. “I use spruce root to sew it all together and a homemade adhesive from bear fat, pine pitch and charcoal. It’s a durable hat, and it’ll last forever.” Voyageur-level supporters of Ranta’s journey—defined as those donating more than $1,000 to the cause—will receive their own birchbark hat in the mail post-trip, handmade by Ranta and his father. Cowboy or sombrero styles available. Voyageur- level supporters will also receive a 2017 Spitzii calendar.


VETERAN SPIRIT “My brother, Kevin, is a veteran. He was in Sarajevo and Bosnia and he came back a little bit broke,” says Ranta. “He’s a good man and I didn’t like the way he was being treated. That’s kind of what put me onto this: I’ve got that veteran spirit, I like to say. War is a terrible thing and we need to step up as Canadians and help these guys.” Fifty percent of the money raised by the journey will be donated to the Atikokan Legion. The remainder will be donated to the Atikokan Youth Centre, which was the beneficiary of Ranta’s record-breaking 2015 trip. —Tom Bateman


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