Nominations, Annual Meeting and a legend

With September comes the chance to run for CPA office or nominate your favorite candidate. Nominations are open through the month of September.

CPA is always looking for new blood to take the reins and guide the club into the new year. The club officers serve a term of one year.

There are a few vacancies this year since a few long-serving members have decided not to run again. The voting results will be announced at the Annual Meeting on November 7, 2021. This will also be a chance to vote in person if you missed the mail-in or online voting which will occur during the month of October.

As always, in-person events are subject to change because of COVID so we’ll keep you posted if we have to move to ZOOM as the Annual Meeting date gets closer.

Honoring a legend

In the August Coordinator’s column, I mentioned the famed paddler Verlen Kruger. Verlen is in the Guinness book of world records as one who has paddled more miles than anyone. Verlen has paddled more than 100,000 miles, impressive considering he did not start paddling until the age of 41.

Verlen died at the age of 82 so he spent half his life in a canoe. Verlen was also the designer of the Kruger canoe, CPA member Greg Welker paddles a Kruger canoe. Over a four-year period in the early 80’s, Verlen and his son-in -law, Steve Landick (a former Navy seal) paddled what they dubbed the ultimate canoe challenge—a 28,000- mile canoe trip.

The ultimate canoe challenge began in spring of 1980 when they launched near Red Rock, Montana paddling down the Missouri River to Saint Louis, then paddling up the Illinois River to Lake Michigan, around the Great Lakes, down the Saint Lawrence to the Atlantic Ocean, down the coast of the Atlantic to Miami, Florida, reaching Miami on December 25th.

They covered 8,115 miles in their first year, but they were not through since they left Miami the following day paddling around the Gulf of Mexico to the mouth of the Mississippi River near Empire, Louisiana.

They paddled up the Mississippi to Lake Itasca, Minnesota. From there they paddled and portaged to Fort McMurray Alberta. From Fort McMurray they paddled to Tuktoyakruk, Northwest Territories where they ended the 1981 season with 7,908 miles for the year. 

In the spring of 1982, they left Tuktoyaktuk, Northwest Territories for Skagway, Alaska. From there they followed the inside passage and Pacific coast down to Seattle, Washington. Continuing down the Pacific coast to Long Beach, California and then down the coast and Baja California to Cabo San Lucas, reaching Cabo on January 1, 1983. They covered 5,839 miles in 1982.

Leaving Cabo San Lucas they paddled the sea of Cortez to the Colorado River via Yuma, Arizona, then paddling upstream the length of the Grand Canyon to Lees Ferry, Arizona. They continued up the Colorado River crossing the Glen Canyon dam. With special permission they were able to portage the dam via an unused tunnel then up a metal ladder to get around the dam.

The dam employees offered them numerous rides in the elevator, but they refused because they wanted to complete the trip totally with human power. From there they paddled up the Green River to South Pass Wyoming. During this paddle Steve and Verlen became separated. When they finally met again Steve was sick, so he flew home to Lansing Michigan.

From South Pass Wyoming it was a 68-mile portage over the continental divide, so Verlen was solo and performing the portage in shifts carrying the gear and then returning for the boat. During this period, his canoe turned up missing. The police put out a bulletin and some local churches were praying for his boat to turn up.

His Friend Valerie Fons was in Montana practicing for the AuSable River race. Valerie came to rescue with a replacement boat. As Valerie was returning him to the spot to begin his portage again, a truck passed with his stolen canoe strapped on top. A chase ensued where the police intervened and were able to get the canoe returned to him. Steve returned and was able to continue the portage for the final leg of the trip.

At the end of the portage, they were again paddling on the Wind River which turned into the Big Horn River. They joined the Yellowstone River near Big Horn Montana where they paddled back to the Missouri River to the Garrison Dam, from here he paddled and portaged up the Souris River to Manitoba then following the border route returning to the Great Lakes. Paddling down Lake Michigan to the Grande River and paddled upstream to end the 28,000-mile trip in his hometown Lansing Michigan.

In later years, Verlen and Valerie would paddle from the Artic Ocean to the south end of South America, an 18,100-mile adventure.

Bill Smith

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