Mike Ranta, veteran paddler from Atikokan, Ontario (known as the Canoeing Capital of Canada) set out on a 8000 plus kilometer journey from Vancouver to Cape Breton on April 1.
Mike Ranta’s Paddle – a cross country canoe journey is a trip he hopes will inspire youth as well as raise funds for Atikokan Youth Initiatives—his goal being to raise $50,000. While he’s at it, Ranta is working to set a Guinness World Record for the longest solo canoe trip (solo paddle.) Check Ranta’s progress and make a donation at www.atikokanyouth.org/track_our_paddler.html
This is Ranta’s second major canoe trip. In 2011 he travelled from Rocky Mountain House more than 5000 km, to Montreal. “I felt this was a short trip,” he said.
Ranta arrived in Princeton on Sunday, April 13 and spent the evening at the River’s Edge RV Park. Ranta was suprised by a visit from Glen and Lori Johnson, folks from his home home town upon his arrival in Princeton.
“It was cool, said Ranta, “they took me home so I could have a shower- (so nice). It was good to see some folks from home.”
The trip has been great so far for Ranta. He says when the tide went out, he “lost the Fraser River for a bit,” (I’m probably the only guy in Canada to do that) he laughs— and got hung up in the canyon at Copper Creek, but I made it here when I wanted to and that’s okay.”
Ranta has a great love and respect for the beauty of Canada, “I love the bush,” he said. He doesn’t fear being out there, but he does respect the wildlife. “I’m in their back yard,,” he says, I respect them and they leave me alone.”
Ranta is joined by two companions for his journey, a charming six year old Finnish Spitz – Spitzii his best friend in the whole world and Atta – a coconut he found during his first trip. (A Wilson type friend?)
Spitzii lets Ranta know when there is anyone or anything around and is very happy to greet people who come to visit.
Giving back is a large part of Ranta’s trip. “I was a troubled youth,” says the 42 year old. A man by the name of Bobby Davidson, a Golden Glove Boxer, took Ranta under his wing, taught him respect — “saved my ass,” said Ranta, “and taught me all about giving back.” Making life better for the youth of his home town and inspiring all youth to “never give up—always reach for the sky” is how Ranta gives back.
A spot locator, video and photos are how the journey is being tracked and can be followed at www.facebook.com/pages/Mike-Rantas-Paddle. You can leave messages for Ranta on his page.
Mike Ranta hopes that all Canadians will share in the experience of this journey. He extends a huge amount of thanks to the truckers, travellers and workers along the highway for their honks of support and giving him room during his portage periods.
At just after 9 a.m., Monday, April 14, Ranta and Spitzii step into the canoe on the Similkameen River. Ranta waves goodbye, heading for Keremeos, the next stop along the way.