After arriving from Valemount and loading his canoe, Mike Ranta unknowingly set off on a 30 plus hour stint of being wind bound on the Canoe River. With 70km/h winds and a dust bowl across the sky from the esevouir mud flats of Kinbasket Lakes, Mike Ranta and Spitzii spend a full day wind bound.  20170504.  Photo/David Jackson
After 72 hours wind bound at the mouth of the Canoe River on Kinbasket Lake, Mike Ranta awoke to calmed winds and a restless energy. Breaking camp, Ranta and Spitzii loaded in the canoe and began downstream in what seemed like faded breezes. Before long, the two were head on into a driving wind and battling for downstream momentum. On a bend in the river the wind pinned Ranta's canoe to the bank, forcing his bow to slide up a submerged log and into the bank. In a selfless instant, Ranta was out of his canoe and submerged in the frigid water, activating his survival vest as he grabbed for the bow rope. The decision to go overboard saved the canoe, as well Spitz, from dumping into the river. Shivering on the bank and cursing the wind, Ranta found lee a short distance down the lake after marching through the clay. As the three day wind continues to subside, Ranta sits by the crackling fire and sips coffee.
After 72 hours wind bound at the mouth of the Canoe River on Kinbasket Lake, Mike Ranta awoke to calmed winds and a restless energy. Breaking camp, Ranta and Spitzii loaded in the canoe and began downstream in what seemed like faded breezes. Before long, the two were head on into a driving wind and battling for downstream momentum. On a bend in the river the wind pinned Ranta's canoe to the bank, forcing his bow to slide up a submerged log and into the bank. In a selfless instant, Ranta was out of his canoe and submerged in the frigid water, activating his survival vest as he grabbed for the bow rope. The decision to go overboard saved the canoe, as well Spitz, from dumping into the river. Shivering on the bank and cursing the wind, Ranta found lee a short distance down the lake after marching through the clay. As the three day wind continues to subside, Ranta sits by the crackling fire and sips coffee.
With white caps blowing under a chilly morning, Mike Ranta builds a fire and waits for the wind to change. At 5:00pm, Ranta makes a dash through the narrows and finds camp beside Foster Creek. Mike Ranta builds the biggest stump fire he's ever lit.  20170509.  Photo/David Jackson
Echoing in the vast banks of Kinbasket Lake, it seems that only creeks rumble and whip like the wind which has blown so hard. The calm, perfect mountain morning is broken by the thunder of avalanches, the lapping of a trouts tail on the waters surface, and the always gurgling paddle strokes of Mike Ranta.  20170509.  Photo/David Jackson
Echoing in the vast banks of Kinbasket Lake, it seems that only creeks rumble and whip like the wind which has blown so hard. The calm, perfect mountain morning is broken by the thunder of avalanches, the lapping of a trouts tail on the waters surface, and the always gurgling paddle strokes of Mike Ranta.  20170510.  Photo/David Jackson
Wind bound at a fish camp, Mike Ranta found refuge with coffee and egg sandwiches as the weather broke. While watching an avalanche fall to Kinbasket Lake, the weather began to shift and a storm blew in from behind the mountain. Thunder and lightning chased Ranta up the clay banks to a treelike hideout.  20170512.  Photo/David Jackson
Wind bound at a fish camp, Mike Ranta found refuge with coffee and egg sandwiches as the weather broke. While watching an avalanche fall to Kinbasket Lake, the weather began to shift and a storm blew in from behind the mountain. Thunder and lightning chased Ranta up the clay banks to a treelike hideout.  20170512.  Photo/David Jackson
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Cross-Canada Dispatch #1: Up and Over British Columbia

Photojournalist David Jackson shares top moments from 50 days with cross-Canada canoeist Mike Ranta

Words by Conor Mihell // Photos by David Jackson

Setting out in April to document canoeist Mike Ranta's third cross-Canada journey from a solo canoe of his own, photojournalist David Jackson knew he was in for a challenge. Jackson calls his subject "the last voyageur." Indeed, Ranta is hard-paddling and hard-partying—the epitome of the happy-go-lucky Canuck. Seven weeks into their journey, after an epic 500-mile portage over the Continental Divide and a harrowing 100-mile transit of Kinbasket Lake, Jackson says, "it's been quite the experience.

"Mike puts himself through a hell of a lot of work," adds the C&K contributing photographer from Ottawa. "I love this type of travel and I was ready for it. On a trip like this, you come to realize when it's good it's good, and when it's awful it's really awful."

Jackson met Ranta on a profile assignment for Canoe & Kayak in 2014, and he was immediately struck by the man's determination and authenticity—not to mention his colorful personality. Ranta and his canine companion, Spitz, have made their canoe expeditions without any sort of sponsorship. "He's a living piece Canadian history," says Jackson. With Canada celebrating its sesquicentennial, Ranta's current goal is to encourage national pride in communities from British Columbia to the Maritimes. Jackson insists he's tagging along simply as an observer—albeit an especially hardworking one.

"I don't want to impart any ego in what I'm doing," says Jackson, who includes no photographs of himself in his regular web and Instagram updates. "The story is about a man and his dog navigating Canada from side to side for the third time. History deserves to have a good account of Mike Ranta."

Draped in their winters coat not yet shed, the mountain loomed high over whipping clouds and the rumble of a distant waterfall. Paddling into morning, Ranta ignored felt the first morning of Kinbasket Lakes beauty. With fish on the docket and a full days paddle behind, Ranta and Spitzii settle into camp as late after winds blow through the valley.

For his part, Ranta says Jackson has been the perfect companion. "I've always travelled solo and wasn't sure how it would go," he admits. "But we get along great. David is tough as nails. Sometimes I feel like I'm holding back. He just gets out there and gives 'er."

Paddling two solo canoes allows the pair to travel stealthily, which led to sightings of moose, wolves and two grizzly bears in one memorable day on Alberta's Bow River. As of mid-May Ranta and Jackson had travelled over 800 miles. With the brutal, long-distance portages of the Rockies behind them, Jackson is looking forward to more time on the water.

Ranta, meanwhile, craves the experience of meeting Canadians and sharing his story in towns along the way. "We live in such a great country," he enthuses. "It's all about the people and Canada right now."

Stay tuned to CanoeKayak.com for more updates as the expedition progresses. For more Mike Ranta:


  • Follow Ranta on Facebook
  • Track the 2017 expedition in real time
  • Watch exclusive C&K interviews following his 2014 and 2016 expeditions