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03/02/2022 08:52AM  
The 8th annual Border Route Challenges are a go! The dates are as follows: meet up in Ely on Friday afternoon September 2nd, get shuttle ride to entry point(s) on Saturday September 3rd, and paddle/portage like heck to get to Lake Superior at Grand Portage Monument no later than Sunday September 11th to catch shuttle ride back to Ely. So where is the start you may ask? This can vary depending on your goals (these are the same as last year).

1) Kruger Waddell Challenge- 260 mile route International Falls through Voyageurs Nat'l Park and all the BWCA
2) Voyageurs Challenge- 205 mile route Crane Lake(or Little Indian Sioux North as an alternative start) though all the BWCA west to east
3) Moose Lake Challenge- 125 mile route Ely @ Moose Lake

A group called WaterTribe is setting up the details and making shuttle arrangements. More details are given at the WaterTribe website at the link below. The above start dates are going to be flexible due to Entry Point permit availability. All the challenge routes finish on Lake Superior at the historic Grand Portage Fort. The route to be followed should generally be the international boundary with Canada. Of course, longer routes are fine and maybe needed if the wind is blowing hard when you want to paddle one of many big lakes.

All participants who need shuttling help will equally split shuttling costs.

WaterTribe has a customized satellite tracking map that will show all groups as they progress along the route. This is why each group needs to bring and use a Spot or an InReach.

This is an unsupported challenge. Unsupported means no preplanned assistance such as a support crew, phone calls to home for navigation assistance, and food resupply. Take what you need from the start. What really makes this a challenge is the time constraint component. The harder you push the greater the challenge. The first recorded record was set by Sir George Simpson of the Hudson’s Bay Company and his hand-picked team of Voyageurs in the 1800's during the fur trade era.

Feel free to express your interest in doing this and post any questions you may have here or you can email me direct. Grandma L from this site is also available to help with questions and with keeping us organized.

Post here if you’re looking to form a team, join a team, or have room for someone to join your team.

The WaterTribe site is where you register and see the current roster list.

WaterTribe
 
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03/02/2022 11:09AM  
Some day I'll do this!!!
straighthairedcurly
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03/02/2022 08:25PM  
I am planning on the Moose Lake start. I will sign up officially once my boss gives the final approval. Can't wait!
Grandma L
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06/27/2022 08:28PM  
Time to get planning for the annual fall MN border route Challenges. Water levels and bug conditions should be good by then.
07/01/2022 09:49AM  
Thanks for bumping this up Grandma.

One important update for those paddling or thinking of paddling the Kruger/Waddell Challenge- the Park Service has closed the Gold Portage for all travel going east out of Black Bay of Rainy Lake. All watercraft (canoes and kayaks included) going west to east must use the Kettle Falls Portage and must be decontaminated by Park staff before being allowed to enter Namakan Lake.

This route will add close to 7 miles of additional paddling over the shorter Gold Portage former option. Plus you will be paddling on Rainy Lake for a lot of miles with potential for wind/wave issues. Rainy is a BIG lake and dwarfs the biggest lakes of the BWCA. We will also have to time our arrival at Kettle Falls to coincide with the Park Service decontamination station open hours, whatever that will be come September.
Mocha
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07/02/2022 02:12PM  
Decontaminated from what?
Guest poster
Guest Paddler
 
07/02/2022 05:41PM  
Mocha: "Decontaminated from what?"Zebra mussels,quagga mussels,and what ever invasive aquatic badboys might be clinging to your hull,if u love the B-Dub you always clean hull before entering if u have been in unknown waters
Hockhocking
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07/02/2022 06:16PM  
Spiny water fleas. Millfoil. Plus stuff already mentioned like zebra mussels.
Grandma L
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07/03/2022 09:10PM  
Sounds like there is a possibility of the RABC being available so paddlers can use the Dawson Portage - Check it out. You will need a "from Canada Permit" as well as the Canadian RABC.
walleyejunky
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07/04/2022 05:08PM  
just a question....but how many days would you figure it would take from Moose Lake entry to get to Lake Superior for 2 average paddlers and portagers? We had no problems whatsoever doing a Mudro entry to Lower Basswood Falls...up to Crooked...and down thru Gun/Fourtown back to Mudro.

My son loved traveling the border and he might get really excited about a potential trip like this.
straighthairedcurly
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07/04/2022 05:31PM  
walleyejunky: "just a question....but how many days would you figure it would take from Moose Lake entry to get to Lake Superior for 2 average paddlers and portagers? We had no problems whatsoever doing a Mudro entry to Lower Basswood Falls...up to Crooked...and down thru Gun/Fourtown back to Mudro.


My son loved traveling the border and he might get really excited about a potential trip like this."


It really depends on how many miles you can travel in a day (combined with some luck to not get wind bound or stopped due to lightning storm. The Moose Lake entry for the Border Route Challenge has a Saturday start and finish by the following Saturday. It is about 125 miles so need to average 15-18 miles a day. But people have done it in much less time as well.
07/05/2022 08:38AM  
Mocha: "Decontaminated from what?"
Zebra Mussels are the culprit here. The Park Service says they were found in Rainy Lake and they're trying to slow the spread eastward.
07/05/2022 08:43AM  
walleyejunky: "just a question....but how many days would you figure it would take from Moose Lake entry to get to Lake Superior for 2 average paddlers and portagers? "
straighthairedcurly's reply is right on..."it really depends"

I would say that an average tandem boat should figure 30 miles per day is a good estimate. Packing light and traveling for 10 hours steady without wind or wave issues.
Grandma L
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07/10/2022 08:55AM  
check out the Water Tribe site and sign up or send me an e-mail for more information.
Watertribe.com
water tribe
07/19/2022 12:48PM  
Grandma L: "check out the Water Tribe site and sign up or send me an e-mail for more information.
Watertribe.com
water tribe "

If you're thinking of doing this trip, now is the time to do as Grandma L says in her post above. We're setting up shuttle reservations soon and knowing a head count helps.

Looking over Recreation.gov as of now shows 2 permits for Friday 9/2 and 3 permits for Sunday 9/4 for Little Vermillion Lake Entry Point. This is the entry point for both the Kruger/Waddell and the Voyageurs Challenges.

Here's a pic of the 2020 Kruger/Waddell Challenge paddlers at the start.
07/22/2022 01:35PM  
I can't stop thinking about the Border Route Challenge since it was first posted and have several questions about the BRC and if it is something to think about for 2023 or something to regret not doing earlier.
What, in your opinion, is the average age of the participants, physical conditions that would make the challenge difficult, impossible or unsuitable. (I assume people doing this are already canoe trippers and don't have serious medical conditions) Are age, weight a consideration? Average Joe or superhero?
What are some of the potential physical or medical problems that crop up on the BRC that you wouldn't find on say a 6 or10 day BWCA route vacation.
Does anyone have a gear list or info on things like pack weight, sleeping system, food prep? Do you pack as a team or by personal preference each on their own? What works and what doesn't.
Are there people who solo? 2 person, 3,4,5 person teams? I assume most teams are made up by friends but are some pick-up teams?
Any information, insights or experiences is appreciated.

Merlyn

07/22/2022 05:13PM  
Merlyn-

Average age is probably 40 and 50's but some younger and some older. There are 3 people over 70 that return year after year. I think all have some paddling experience, most have done multiple BWCA/Quetico trips, and a few are experienced adventure racers. Mostly all look like average Joes and Jills but all seem to have something that can't be seen.

Physical conditions that are unsuitable- hmm. Being healthy, in shape, good balance, able to paddle a boat for long hours, able to portage trails are all good things to know or be. But having experience, strong will, and a reason to achieve can overcome what others may deem "unsuitable". This thing is a Challenge afterall.

Physical or medical conditions that are different than a normal paddle trip- blisters on hands and less so, on feet are very common. Sore muscles and/or joints. Sleep deprivation. Becoming dehydrated. For those who push harder, physical exhaustion, lessoning of coordination, and mental issues.

Gear and food- I'll skip this....except to say whatever works for you.

Group makeup- lots of solo paddlers but most common is probably 2-4 people in a group. A small group is most ideal because you can share the load, the chores, and have moral support. My group slowly grew over time, up to 8 people one year. Only one was a prior friend and the rest were strangers. Lots of teams are made up of family, friends, and coworkers. Some groups paddle together, adhoc, after the Challenge starts.

Other advice- make sure to stay at Grand Portage until the end of the event to cheer on other finishers, celebrate, eat real food, and swap stories with new friends you will make. Kindrid Spirits is the logo of WaterTribe.
07/22/2022 10:53PM  
Thanks for all the info! I have read your trip report about your record setting trip and decided you are crazy-- good crazy but still crazy! An incredible accomplishment and an inspiring read. I was encouraged to hear about 3 over 70 trippers, we'll see what the next year brings. (I just hit 72)

Thanks again, Merlyn
Voyager
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07/23/2022 08:18AM  
You'd better not put it off too long Merlyn if you're 72. It doesn't get easier as you age. I think Magic Paddler was 74 when he did it in 2020, and he set a blistering pace. There will be three 74 year old paddlers this year, one is doing the Moose Lake with his daughter, and I and another are hopefully starting at Rainy, IF it's not too windy. I just completed a bucket list MR 340 race and am so looking forward to the BWCA after 3 days of paddling in a muddy river.
Grandma L
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08/01/2022 08:37PM  
There are 17 paddlers signed up for the 2022 Minnesota Border Route Challenges. Starting date is September 3, Saturday morning. I will post the tracking site from Water Tribe so you can follow along.
cmanimal
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08/02/2022 03:03PM  
walleyejunky: "just a question....but how many days would you figure it would take from Moose Lake entry to get to Lake Superior for 2 average paddlers and portagers? We had no problems whatsoever doing a Mudro entry to Lower Basswood Falls...up to Crooked...and down thru Gun/Fourtown back to Mudro.


My son loved traveling the border and he might get really excited about a potential trip like this."


My wife and I did it in 7 days, paddled 6, hiked out the Grand portage on the 7th.
In general we were on the water between 7and 8 and arriving in a site between 2 and 3. So definitely not a race pace, or schedule. we had about 4 hrs. of weather delay on the trip, and we single portaged. One item that was more of a challenge than I expected was the legal transit between the two sections of the BWCA.
Grandma L
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08/06/2022 05:06PM  
The Moose Lake Challenge is a great event to use as a "starter' to see how it works for you. The longer more difficult Challenges - Voyageur (Little Vermillion to Superior) and the main event, the Kruger -Waddell Challenge starting from Sha Sha Resort at Dove Point on Rainy Lake finishing at Lake Superior at Grand Portage, are definite more difficult. 7 days with 7 hours of paddling per day - will definitely not be enough for the Voyageur or Kruger-Waddell.
Give it a try - sign up on watertribe.com
 
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