Found an update on Dan Litchfield and Steve Park's Hunter's Island Loop record:
Duluth News Tribune Sun, Jul. 03, 2005
Paddlers improve on Hunter Island best
BY SAM COOK
NEWS TRIBUNE OUTDOORS WRITER
Ely long-distance paddlers Dan Litchfield and Steve Park improved by 21 minutes their record for paddling the Hunter Island canoe route through Ontario's Quetico Provincial Park. They did it over the summer solstice, June 20-22.
The route, defined by the major river systems that flow through the 1.2-million-acre park, covers 145 miles and includes 38 portages. Litchfield, 57, and Park, 52, covered the distance, paddling day and night, in 28 hours, 27 minutes and 15 seconds.
That erases their former record, set in June 1994, when they paddled the distance in 28 hours, 49 minutes and 7 seconds.
The men were on track to break the record by about two hours but encountered strong westerly winds during the day on June 21, slowing their progress. Still, they averaged more than 5 mph over the grueling trek.
The Hunter Island loop begins at Prairie Portage on Basswood Lake near Ely. It follows the Minnesota-Ontario border east to Saganaga Lake, then runs northwest to Kawnipi, Shelley, Keats and Russell. From there it turns southwest down Sturgeon to the Maligne River and Lac La Croix, and from there east along the border to Prairie Portage.
The men used GPS navigation to locate portages and channels. They had pre-set important way-points from map coordinates.
Several other groups, including Quetico park portage crew members, had attempted the route since 1994, but none had come closer than five hours to Litchfield and Park's former record. Before 1994, the record of 33 hours and 38 minutes had been held by former Quetico park ranger Joe Meany and a partner, who paddled it in a two-person kayak.
Litchfield, a wildlife biologist with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, and Park, a physician, paddled an 18-foot We-no-nah racing canoe of carbon fiber weighing just 28 pounds. Their carbon fiber paddles, made by Zaveral Racing Equipment, weighed 8 ounces.
The men ate peanut butter and jelly and ham and cheese sandwiches, granola bars and Pop Tarts. They drank Gatorade mixed from powder with lake water. They estimate they consumed 24,000 calories each.
"I think this time was harder than last time because of the wind," Litchfield said. "Our conditioning was as good or better."
They started their trip at 10:30 p.m. June 20, paddled through the day and into the full-moon night on June 21, finishing at 2:54 a.m. June 22.
Park completed the trip after having rotator-cuff surgery on one of his shoulders a year ago.
"The shoulder never talked to me once," Park said. "My wrist and forearm talked to me quite a bit."
No formal records of the Hunter Island challenge are kept. "It's an honor thing," Litchfield said.
dicecupmaker: "Just received my Outdoor News and article on page #7!"
Cool! Could you post a picture of the article? Trying to stay somewhat aware of the content that's out there. Haha
Is that this article, dicecupmaker? Or something else?
Just received my Outdoor News and article on page #7!
Thanks Beav, Peter offered to fact check it, but I don't think he heard back. At least from a narrative perspective it probably reads the best of any of the coverage. We will at least try to keep the facts straight on the forums!
PSA don't try heating your food with hand warmers. haha.
Thanks for posting this link.
Good coverage of their feat even though lots of errors in the historical facts. But the most important point of the story was right... how amazingly fast Nordstjernen and Kelso completed the route!
TomT: "That's really cool to get recognition like this. I really wish that camera wouldn't have crapped out on you guys. Would the camera have been able to shoot at night during the grand portage or does it need daylight?
It's really humbling how interested people have been in this story!
I haven't reviewed all the footage, but Peter accidentally had it on a setting that shut the camera off at night from a prior project that he used the camera for. He thinks it would have actually done OK in the dark.
I'm honestly impressed we got as much footage as we did. I banged that camera several several times on the portages. Filming wasn't exactly our top priority. I ended up breaking the mount pretty early on the grand on one of the many dead falls, so I think the grand portage was always doomed to be not filmed.
That's really cool to get recognition like this. I really wish that camera wouldn't have crapped out on you guys. Would the camera have been able to shoot at night during the grand portage or does it need daylight?
Yeah i saw that one last week. Great write up. Just a couple of minor mistakes. Guess I'll take credit for the extra 50 miles, maybe we did them while we were hallucinating.
Saw this article in the timberjay, thought some of you might enjoy it.
voyager: "I'm jealous of your time spent with Clint. I bought a used book of their 7000 mile cross continent trip. It's been autographed by Verlin. I'd love to get Clint to autograph and date it."
As you know Clint is very humble and approachable. I'm sure he'd chuckle about signing a book, but he would be glad to do it for you. Send Matt or me an email and we will get you in touch. Clint seems to think all the fanfare about his and Verlen's trips is amusing, so many years after the fact, but he's glad that it's bringing new interest to paddling and bringing new friends together. On the border route he and Verlen never really set out to do something historic. They just were curious to test their limits as they prepared for the transcontinental journey.
voyager: "Holy cow! Check out what the Pigeon's flow has shot up to in 1 day. It's at 2240 cfs. You 2 are lucky it didn't do that on your trip, though I'm sure you wouldn't have gone if that much rain was predicted."
Half tempted to go up there and shoot it with a royalex!
Holy cow! Check out what the Pigeon's flow has shot up to in 1 day. It's at 2240 cfs. You 2 are lucky it didn't do that on your trip, though I'm sure you wouldn't have gone if that much rain was predicted.
I'm jealous of your time spent with Clint. I bought a used book of their 7000 mile cross continent trip. It's been autographed by Verlin. I'd love to get Clint to autograph and date it.
Also! Clint told us how they not only stayed up for the 80 hours, but they didn't have a hot shower and bed waiting for them in GP. They had to drive to Grand Marais!!! He says they switched drivers every 5 minutes, as neither of them felt safe having the other drive.
BeaV: "As one who has been in your state of mind (or lack thereof when reality dims...), I can appreciate the difficulty of what you did and the determination needed to continue on in the face of mental and physical exhaustion. I really didn't think it possible for you guys to go non stop without sleep. Way to go! I still can't fathom that long without sleep doing what you were.
That means alot Beav!
I don't really know the answer, but I believe it helps immensely to have someone to talk to. How you managed your solo trip on a similar pace is another level and kind of determination altogether.
Also in a strange way the lack of sleep was motivation for keeping up the pace. The sooner we finished, the sooner we would sleep.
Peter and I both believe the original Clint Verlen run would have been in many ways more tortuous just because of the longer duration.
Peter and I took Clint out sailing yesterday. Any chance to chat with Clint is an enjoyable experience. He mentioned that one of the reasons they made the run was simply that Verlen thought they could do it nonstop. I want to know. How does one come up with an insane idea like that without any prior challenge?!?
As one who has been in your state of mind (or lack thereof when reality dims...), I can appreciate the difficulty of what you did and the determination needed to continue on in the face of mental and physical exhaustion. I really didn't think it possible for you guys to go non stop without sleep. Way to go! I still can't fathom that long without sleep doing what you were.
Back in April, Peter asked me "Now the question is, how on earth do you stay awake for 80 hrs straight!!??"
As I read your Trip Report now, I'm the one trying to find the answer from you guys.
What an amazing story! Congrats.
andym: "That's a very interesting trip report. You made it sound so easy during the radio interview. The report made it much more real."
Yeah, the no sleep part is what I could never or even WANT to do at this point. It sounds very dangerous to me but in my 20's I would jump at the chance to do it I'm sure.
That's a very interesting trip report. You made it sound so easy during the radio interview. The report made it much more real.
schuetpa: "I am addicted to reading more about this challenge. Loved listening to the interview. Question is how old are you guys? How old is BeaV and grandmaL? Do all of you guys live up near Ely? Congrats again so cool what a human can do if determined enough. "
Thanks! Love the interest.
I (Matt) am 28 and Peter is 25.
We are the younger ones of the Kruger/Waddell challengers.
I live near Aitkin (central MN)and Peter was in the twin cities, but is moving to Indiana for a few years.
I am addicted to reading more about this challenge. Loved listening to the interview. Question is how old are you guys? How old is BeaV and grandmaL? Do all of you guys live up near Ely? Congrats again so cool what a human can do if determined enough.
WhiteWolf: "In 2015 when I first did the Voyager Challenge (it's inception year) with BeaV and MeatPuppet - "Johnny" from the GP IR was still clearing the GP. Whether this was from recent blowdown or the previous winter I don't know but this was mid-Sept. And my .02 for time of year - you picked the exact weekend I would attempt such a feat.
It must be a year to year thing as well as when the last big blow was. Last spring (2018), we did our first border route from East to West. We did the Portage the weekend prior to memorial weekend. I don't think there were more than a handful of blow downs, if any. We did it with 11 days worth of food, so I would think I would have remembered any bad ones.
In 2015 when I first did the Voyager Challenge (it's inception year) with BeaV and MeatPuppet - "Johnny" from the GP IR was still clearing the GP. Whether this was from recent blowdown or the previous winter I don't know but this was mid-Sept. And my .02 for time of year - you picked the exact weekend I would attempt such a feat.
schuetpa: "Thank you for posting this trip report!!! I loved reading it last night. Congrats on the insane pace and record. A couple of questions?
For my part, I think we both would have brought more layers and less food if we picked the same time of year. Also, a minor complaint is that our Cordura ccs pack picks up quite a bit of water weight. I have dreams of an ultralight, watershedding canoe pack made out of tyvek or sail cloth, but with the same dimensions and pattern of a ccs.
RE: time of year. We made a decent choice. I think we would have literally picked the solcstice if we did it again. Still high water (hopefully), more daylight, warmer nighttime temps, and it can't seriously be much later than memorial day before they start seriously cleaning up the portage??? It is a national monument after all.
Thank you for posting this trip report!!! I loved reading it last night. Congrats on the insane pace and record. A couple of questions?
Are there other items you wish you would have had or packed other than 5 min epoxy and your obvious hat?
Which do you think is a better time to go spring or fall? I know you had faster moving water helping yo with time and you said you felt the cold tmep made you want to paddle to keep warm but the down trees were very hard on the time.
I loved lots of the read but really clung to the spaceX launch and what you had to be thinking about seeing it. You weren't so tired to be hallucinating yet and semi clear headed. Think if you say it the next night or following. Thanks once again and happy paddling.
TomT: "I also love that you guys happened to meet up by just sheer luck with the canoe overloaded with gear. Talk about extremes!
It was quite amusing. I couldn't get over how many fishing poles they had hanging off the back. There had to have been at least 6! Haha and they were back at the campsite to apparently look for another??
Did their dogs learn to fish one wonders?
sedges: "I feel another "challenge" in the air from this team!"
Haha not a chance! For my part, I'm very interested to watch BeaV and Kendra later this year on their Kruger Challenge attempt.
Kelso: "Dan Litchfield and Steve Park, mentioned in the report, also hold the recognized Hunter's Island Loop (Quetico) record:
I feel another "challenge" in the air from this team!
I also love that you guys happened to meet up by just sheer luck with the canoe overloaded with gear. Talk about extremes!
In 2011 I was on my way out after an 11 night Quetico solo and had packed very light. On Moose Lake I passed 2 canoes similarly loaded down like you encountered. It seemed like 2 fathers in the sterns with young teenage boys in the bow of the canoes. The pile of gear in the middle was higher than the kid's heads. Meanwhile I've got a gear pack and a day pack for 11 nights. They were going to set on Wind Bay of Basswood for 4 nights and had to do a long up and down portage to get there :)
Outstanding! I always devour your trip reports. ( I'll be following your rte. in 3 +mos. ) What a great team you 2 are, always 1 of you making the right decision when the other has a slight lapse. I wondered how the Pigeon would be at about 1350 cfs.; sounded a bit scary.
TomT: "Very well written Peter. You really captured what it must have felt like. I'm amazed you guys didn't sleep for at least 10 hours after finishing. I think staying focused on doing the Pigeon River white water before dark was a huge key for you guys.
Peter wet footed it. I used a pair of chota waders for a good portion. I was thankful (and Peter was a bit jealous) of the extra warmth, but they weren't perfect. The extended period of time wearing something not breathable resulted in wet feet anyway, and the slightly awkard stitching of the neoprene cause some minor blisters on susceptible wet feet. I would use them again, but they could definitely be improved. Also I switched back to regular shoes on the grand.
Wow! What a trip!!
Very well written Peter. You really captured what it must have felt like. I'm amazed you guys didn't sleep for at least 10 hours after finishing. I think staying focused on doing the Pigeon River white water before dark was a huge key for you guys.
I'm also curious about your footwear. Did you wet foot it? And what became of the broken paddle? And big kudos to Matt for loaning you the hat. I hope you buy him dinner for that one! :) I thought of the Navy SEAL saying that goes "2 is 1, and 1 is none".
Congrats for pushing through all the struggles to achieve this goal. Keep some souvenirs from this trip to show your kids and grandchildren someday.
Dan Litchfield and Steve Park, mentioned in the report, also hold the recognized Hunter's Island Loop (Quetico) record:
Excerpts from an article written by Sam Cook, published in the Duluth News Tribune, Sunday, July 3, 1994:
“Dan Litchfield, 46, and Steve Park, 41, paddled the historic Hunter’s Island canoe route-145 miles of water with 34 portages – through Ontario’s Quetico Provincial Park and along the fringes of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.
They did it in 28 hours, 49 minutes and 7 seconds. That broke a 13 year old record held by two Canadians.
This was no camping trip. The two Ely men paddled and portaged from 3:35 a.m. June 22 to 8:24 a.m. June 23. They stopped only long enough to grab nourishment, guzzle some high-carbohydrate drink or take a quick dip to ward off the heat.”
…”(They) started and finished at Prairie Portage on Basswood Lake near Ely. The route took them east along the border to Saganaga Lake, northwest to Kawnipi, west to Sturgeon Lake, southwest down Sturgeon and the Maligne River to LacLaCroix and east again to Basswood Lake.
They paddled LacLaCroix, Iron, Bottle and Crooked lakes by moonlight.
Litchfield had been thinking about giving the Hunter’s Island loop a go since talking to Quetico Park Ranger Joe Meany a few years ago. Meany, the official keeper of the Hunter’s Island records, has raced the loop himself. Meany and a partner had held the two-person kayak record for the route, paddling it in 33 hours, 38 minutes in 1988.”
…”They purposely chose to do the route in mid-June to maximize daylight. And the weather cooperated. Daytime temperatures were in the high 70’s to low 80’s, with little wind, no fog and no storms. A full moon illuminated the night.”
…”Leaving Prairie Portage at 3:35 a.m. …they were on Saganaga Lake near the Gunflint Trail by 8:17 a.m. They clipped along in Park’s 40 pound, 18 ½ foot Winonah Minnesota II canoe, whipping off 58 to 60 strokes per minute with graphite and epoxy paddles. They forged northwest to Kawnipi in the heat of the day, stopping frequently to swim.
…Night fell as the men reached LacLaCroix, where Quetico Park Ranger Joe Meany met them.”
…”Both say it will take some doing to beat their record, but they welcome challengers….Park said , “I think it’s beatable.”
That's a crazy trip. Congrats on seeing it through and making it.
New Trip Report posted by Kelso
Trip Name: Peter and Matt's 2019 Kruger Challenge.
Click Here to View Trip Report
- Trip Discussion Thread
- Route Map (Google Maps, imported SPOT data)
- Raw SPOT Tracking Data (Excel)
- WTIP Interview
- Timelapse Video
- Printable Route Maps (PDF, 156 MB)