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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

A dream job

Paul Schram and Hadley Burns have been hired by Path of the Paddle to spend 10 weeks canoeing from Thunder Bay, Ont., to Jessica Lake in the Whiteshell, sharing their experiences along the way. Photo by Phil Hossack/Winnipeg Free Press

Paul Schram and Hadley Burns might want to pack a horseshoe and rabbit's foot along with their freeze-dried pineapple and tent to prolong their good luck.

The University of Winnipeg education students landed a summer job most outdoorsy people could only dream about -- paddling a canoe from Thunder Bay, Ont., to Jessica Lake in Whiteshell Provincial Park in 10 weeks.

The pair have been hired by Path of the Paddle as trail ambassadors for the canoe-based section of the Trans Canada Trail, which is about 1,000 kilometres long. They plan to launch their canoe in Thunder Bay June 18.

Path of the Paddle is an Ontario-based organization that promotes canoe and kayak routes in northwestern Ontario.

"Our job is to paddle this trail throughout the course of the summer and promote it," Schram said Tuesday. "It's not as remote as what we've done in the past. It's a lot more accessible. But there are a lot of portages. I think we have between 200 and 300 portages on this trip."

Schram, 23, and Burns, 24, are graduates of the YMCA-YWCA's Camp Stephens Wilderness Program. Last summer, each led six-week canoe trips for young men and women.

The route they're paddling is fairly well-established, with campsites and portage routes, compared with canoe trips they've taken on more remote rivers in northern Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

It's the national canoe route of Canada's Trans Canada Trail and there is no land-based trail to hike. It has been dedicated to Canada's First Nations and canoeing icon Bill Mason, and covers 1,000 kilometres starting at Thunder Bay. It follows the Pigeon River and the Gunflint Route to Quetico Wilderness Park and then Atikokan. It then follows the Turtle River waterway system to Dryden through to Kenora, Ont., and finishes along the Winnipeg River system at Jessica Lake.

The route Burns and Schram will be paddling. You can also find maps of specific sections of the route on Path of the Paddle's website. The maps were created by Hap Wilson
They're starting the voyage with 30 days worth of food packed, with planned food pickups in Atikokan, Dryden and Kenora.

Burns said they will use a lightweight Souris River canoe for the trip.

"It sounds kind of intimidating, but when we go to pack it really won't be that much," Burns said. "We're just packing for two."

She said they're experimenting with the menu.

"We've been dehydrating tons of food for the past week," she said. "We've dehydrated tons of pineapple. Another thing we've been able to purchase is a ton of protein bars. We're also taking a lot of protein powder just to supplement being out that long."

Burns said they will be able to take time to explore their surroundings, such as searching out indigenous rock paintings.

"Part of it will be taking the time to appreciate what's around us," she said.

"It will be a new experience for me compared to past trips from Camp Stephens," Schram said. "It's a neat opportunity to see a lot of areas we haven't paddled before. We'll be running into a lot of people along the way, and I think sharing stories and getting to know people out there is something we haven't experienced as much, and something we're both looking forward to."

Schram and Burns will share what they are seeing and experiencing along the way. They will use Spot Connect to obtain satellite service for their smartphones so they can update Facebook, Twitter and Instagram on their progress. They'll also take photographs and shoot video.

Fore more information on the trip, visit: Path of the Paddle

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 26, 2015