Boundary Waters, Trip Reports, BWCA, Stories

2019 Team BeaVer Fever Kruger Waddell Challenge
by BeaV

Trip Type: Paddling Canoe
Entry Date: 09/14/2019
Entry & Exit Point: Little Vermilion Lake (Crane Lake) (EP 12)
Number of Days: 4
Group Size: 8
Trip Introduction:
Purpose: To follow, as best we have determined, the route taken by Clint Waddell and Verlen Kruger during their training run in 1968; which they did “just for fun”. This route/challenge serves homage to the Voyageurs and routes likely taken by them during the fur trade circa 1650-1850. It traverses those bodies of water and portages from Sha-Sha Resort in International Falls to the Grand Portage fort on the banks of Gitche Gumee. There is no requirement or limitation on which route you take. Rather, the only real rule is that each crew has only 8 days to complete the challenge. Although a race in some respects, it is truly a challenge…a challenge for each crew and every paddler. What limits does each paddler have and how will each crew manage those limitations vis-a-vie the crews’ goal? That is an open question. How will the mental, physical and natural obstacles affect each person, and can those obstacles be overcome? Only time will tell.
Part 1 of 6

Bob Vollhaber (BeaV) - 5x

Kendra Leibel (MAKK) - 2x

Thomas Head (Deke) - 2x

Jim Kretsch (Jimmy Justice) - 3x

Jeff Bloomer (White Wolf) - 4x

Troy Troskey (McPipes) - Nugget

Chad Shields (Esteban) - Nugget

Todd Troskey (MeatPuppet) - 3x

Team Canoe Makeup: Three boats, to-whit:

BeaV & MAKK in a MN 2;

Deke, JimmyJustice and Whitewolf in a MN 3; and

McPipes, Esteban and MeatPuppet in a MN 3.

Goal: 102 hours

Completed: 235 miles, in 94.55 hours, which equates to 2.5 mph total elapsed average speed from start to finish.

Of Note: Roughly 75 hours on the move, 21 hours in camp, 14.5 total possible sleep hours available (with no chance of it being used up)


Each crew member prepared in their own way. The distance between each of us precluded regular group training runs.

MeatPuppet: Paddled 100 miles with BeaV, me and Pigeon River Dave during a leisurely 18-hour lily dip down the Namakagan. He and McPipes did paddle trips of 28, 36, and 20 miles. And he put in another 250 miles of solo time. Clearly, he is dedicated to his craft.

Esteban: He ran. He ran like the wind 5-7 days a week between 3 to 5 miles a day for months. While not exactly the best choice of training for this type of event, his feet were tough as nails. He did not get one blister or sore spot. His upper body, however, was a complete train wreck. As the adventure got closer, he canoed where & when he could. Mostly solo. Sometimes with a boat full of kids or the dog and sometimes with rocks and tree stumps. Overall, he spent his summer building motorcycles, growing a beard envious to all who appreciate beards and mastered his general coolness.

McPipes: In between bicep curls, he did tips of 28, 36 and 20 miles with his brother MeatPuppet and lifted a shit ton of tile. He owns a tile shop so lifting tile is a job requirement. You need tile, McPipes is your guy.

WhiteWolf: Paddled with BeaV, MAKK and me on Forest Lake for a short 10-mile paddle helping BeaV and MAKK with one of their final training runs before their record attempt. He also paddled 20 miles with BeaV, MAKK and me on Gunn Lake at Grandma L’s cabin on Gunn Lake Chain of Lakes. I am pretty sure he also worked on his repertoire of pondering questions. Twenty hours a day in a canoe gets long without a Q&A session with WW.

JimmyJustice: I paddled 100 miles with BeaV and MP on Memorial Day Weekend along with Pigeon River Dave (PRD is an interesting dude). (Note to self…next time don’t’ paddle 100 miles without practicing first.) At this point in life one would think that I would know better. Guess not. Glad to have been paddling with BeaV though because he offered up some advice about the height of my paddle stroke. I tried in earnest to implement his observation into my routine and it really helped on the KWC. We paddled the Namekagan River to the St. Croix. I also paddled with BeaV, MAKK and White Wolf on Forest Lake for a short 10-mile paddle helping BeaV and MAKK with one of their final training runs before their record attempt. I paddled 20 miles with BeaV, MAKK and WW on Gunn Lake and 10 miles the next morning all at Grandma L’s cabin on Gunn Lake Chain of Lakes. Other than that, I did not practice paddle…but I did practice portaging. With a full pack I would mow the lawn and every other day (for a month) go on a 3-mile hike. The neighbors laughed regularly at me. A couple of days before the KWC I did a 6-mile hike with gear. As was typical for me, I felt very comfortable about my stamina for the upcoming portages but not so much with my paddling skills. What I did this year for paddling prep was way more than I had done in prior years….so I had that going for me, which was nice.

Deke: In March he and BeaV completed the WaterTribe’s annual Everglades Challenge which is a 300-mile unsupported Gulf of Mexico excursion from Tampa Bay (Bay) to Key Largo. Deke has sailed this before but this year he stepped up and paddled his kayak along with BeaV and his Sea Wind. I watched from afar and was truly impressed by his efforts. Once hearing from him the details of the actual trip, I was even more impressed. Deke, as he is known to do, probably paddled every day for a month…“just for fun” before our adventure. The dude is in shape. After the KWC he sends out an email wondering if any of us wanted to pay for a weeklong class put on by former Navy Seals…to see if we could handle Seal training. Ok, pay good money to go to Seal training? Ah, that’s a hard no. Deke is officially signed up for the 2020 Sealfit KoKoro. The KoKoro is a whole different level of crazy. Good luck Brother!!

BeaV: Managed to get in a measly 1,500 miles and help set the Kruger Waddell route record at 63.27 hours. Blah blah blah. What have you done lately? All joking aside, BeaV is pound for pound the best there is. Glad he is on our team.

Kendra: Managed to put up with BeaV all summer long during multiple training runs, set a World Record with BeaV making it from EP 37 Kawishiwi Lake to Adams Lake in 6 hours (cause no one else would think of doing that). Set another World Record with BeaV completing the KWC in 63.27 hours. In the process, MAKK maintained her status of supermom and proved once again the girl from Delano is second to none.