Hi Everyone! I'm looking forward to the chat starting at 11.
Hi Jason, thanks for joining. We will get the chat going here in 10 minutes.
Good morning everyone. Outfitter and guide Jason Zabokrtsky has emerged from two weeks in the wilderness after bushwhacking his way from the depths of Quetico Provincial Park, through the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and into Ely, Minn. via the Old Cloquet Railroad line about 8 miles north of town. He made the entire 80 mile trip without seeing another human.
Jason, how are you feeling after a weekend of rest?
Thanks, Michael. I'm feeling well rested after a relaxing weekend.
What was it like not seeing anyone for two weeks?
I'm glad today that I don't have to bushwhack back to Atikokan to pick up my truck.
Fortunately a friend dropped me off at the front end of the trip.
There was a lot of time to think on the trek.
It wasn't lonely out there. I rarely feel lonely when I'm in the woods.
Why did you decide to bushwhack through the wilderness that is typically traversed via canoe?
Maybe it was a sort of a
"push the reset button" couple of weeks to have some time alone?
I've been extremely fortunate to travel canoe country a lot - as it's typically travel by canoe, dogsled, and ski. When I looked at options for a fall trip, I didn't see a new canoe route the really inspired me.
I looked at the map wall at the shop and one day realized that it's the land part of the region that I haven't had a chance to explore.
The idea of seeing something new, and a sense of exploration, as well as the opportunity for a physical and mental challenge that inspired me.
Why did you choose to do this as a solo trip? Were you concerned about hurting yourself and getting stuck in the middle of the wilderness?
I love this part of the world, and this trek is a way for me to get an even better understanding and appreciation of it.
When planning began for this trip, I did not have an interest in doing it solo.
I had three friends - all extremely knowledge and experienced in this region - who were on board. For different good reasons, they all could not go in the end.
I carried a satellite phone that allowed me to get up the daily updates to our Facebook page, and also to allow me to get out an emergency message if necessary.
Would you recommend they or anyone else try this trip? (Submitted by Greg Seitz via MPR News Facebook page)
One of my greatest safety concerns was a basic slip and fall. It is difficult to walk over the uneven terrain and the moss and lichens are quite slippery. Of course, the sleet and snow increased that issue tenfold.
Thanks for the question, Greg. I definitely come from the school of thought that anything is possible.
However, the reality is that this would not be a wise route for someone unless they had a thorough understanding of what they were getting in to, and skills based on experience in the region.
And, it's so darn convenient to see canoe country by *canoe* !!
How do you know when you are ready for a trip like this?
Being ready for a trip like this is probably different for different people.
The most important part for me is the decade of experience I have canoeing and camping here, as well as cross country skiing, winter camping, and dogsledding in the area.
You mentioned slick footing as a big challenge. Did you take slip and fall regularly? How do you minimize that risk?
I also spent a lot of time training for the trip by bushwhacking in the woods around Ely, as well as carrying my backpack loaded down extra heavy with rocks up the old ski jump hill outside of Ely.
I fell two or three times each day.
Were any of the falls serious?
Sometimes I fell in mud holes in bogs, sometimes I slipped on roots or down trees, at times the moss or a snow covered rock caused me to fall. I was being extremely careful and going slowly and carefully to minimize falls.
Did you use regular hiking boots?
So how many miles did you end up covering? About how far did you go each day?
63 miles in Quetico and the BWCA. 27 miles on the shoulders of those ares to get from Atikokan and to Ely.
I traveled 4 or 5 miles per day typically.
They were hard earned miles.
Did you get frustrated with the slow pace?