Thursday, October 29, 2009

Going Bronze!!

Today Dan and Mike Smith, Steve Willard watched the VKM statue being poured. Provided are a few photos of the process. This was a last minute pour as we were just notified of the event yesterday.
It has been a long time coming for so many that have been behind this project.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

UKC Update 62

Inside Kruger World Headquarters - The Hub of Adventure!

It's a wrap! The 2009 production of the Ultimate Kruger Challenge has come to an end!

In grand celebration, Mark Jack and Brian headed over to the Kruger Canoes World Headquarters in the tiny hamlet of Irons Michigan to relive some of the glory. (The cocktails have been removed from the pixture, family friendly) :-)

Jack took off for home, Brian headed back to the river for camping and fishing, Mark is off to his brother's wedding, and the Captain is signing off.

Thanks for following along, it's been quite a journey, from the fast and the furious to newbies just being introduced to adventure / expedition canoeing.

Check back as I hope the challengers will send me their personal account of the adventure for us all to see.

Paddle Paddle - The Captain Reporting

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

UKC Update 61

Mark Reports 3:55pmEST

The boys are still at it! Jack and Brian are about 12 miles out paddling into a fierce headwind. Mark is making his way to the finish to do the meet and greet, share some stories and shuttle the weary back to the world.

The sense of accomplishment is hard to put into words...but here goes; OUTSTANDING EFFORT BOYS!!

The Captain Reporting

A little help

Andy Reports from the Situation Room
Going through gear and laying out all the wet stuff, I think I left a 25 L WxTex bag next to a big maple at the take out by Lake Michigan. "Bummer Dude"
Land NAV Challenge
If its there, its probably setting next to that tree that sets at a straight line projection of the docs where we took out and across the black top. There was also a trash can within 30 feet of the tree.
I think it only has left over food stuffs in it but the bag is a nice dry bag with the little line bag for hoisting in a tree.
The Request
If Jack and Brian make it today, can they take a quick peak to see if it may still be there and bring it back to Portland? If not, it's only a $20 bag and I'll chalk it up to the cost of voyage.

Thanks! - Andy

UKC Update 60

If your keep'in score... we have two paddlers out on the Manistee River; Jack and Brian. They had a heck of a night if it was anything like here. Wind gusts over 55 miles per hour, downed trees and power-lines.

The UKC / the Kruger 100 and every variation in between have seen a lot of what Mother Nature can dish up in the Midwest.

We didn't promise anyone good weather, but we did promise an adventure; we delivered. Waiting ever so patiently for an update from Eva, who has been the conduit for information on Jack and Brian.

The Captain Reporting

UKC Update 59

Eva Reports -
Its 11:15 pm and they made it through Tippy Dam. Jack and Brian are hunker down in their tents as the winds blow and the rains pour and the temperatures drop.
They are going to finish up tomorrow if they can. The fish have been jumping all day and the rudder they jimmy rigged is holding.
Jack sends a message to Lars and Louie to stay with cheering them on.
Lets see what tomorrow brings.... Night Boys.

UKC Update 58

The Hazel Brothers mystery solved...
Hazel Brothers - The Ride
The Hazel Brothers new to the UKC (actually only the Manistee 1/2); met up paddling with Dan a few weeks ago on the way down the grand river and learned about the upcoming UKC.
The Brothers threw caution to the wind and joined up Friday night at the Manistee camp on 72. They checked status that night on the Mark, Jack and Dan and then talked with the crews in the morning. After hearing that Dan was dropping out due to illness and talking to is nephew Brian, it seemed they better get headed down river or we wouldn't make it by Tuesday.
They Did It!!
Hazel's are now off the river and completed the Manistee at approximately 3:40pm Tuesday. The boat they traveled in is a 1977, Sawyer Charger, Kevlar layup.
Andy considered giving up on day two. His wife gave the updates from the web blog and spot tracking and saw everyone, they thought, pull ahead and beyond reach. They had no intention of racing but felt they were falling to far behind to catch up.
"It took another day for us to figure out that only Mark had paddled past us in the night and Jack and Brian were still back a bit. We had hoped they would catch up so we'd have some paddling buddies but it sounds like rudder trouble slowed them. Determined to finish we started earlier and paddled latter and topped our 34 mil first day with 40+ mi days. Our stops to camp were Sat) M-66 abandon campground; Sun) just past Harvey bridge and Mon) half way down Tippy pond.
I did not register ahead of time but would be happy to after the fact if you do that for Half a UKC participant. The money's for a good cause so just let me know the best way to contribute.
Thanks for the inspiration to push my limits!" - Andy

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

UKC Update 57

Report from River -

The Hazel Brothers checked in @noon and were just past Bear Creek. They are on the move!!

UKC Update 56

Mark Reports 12:57pm EST

Brian and Jack are in Mesick and its not for the Annual Mushroom Festival. But they are on a walkabout to the hardware store as Brian tweaked a rudder cable.

So as they hoof it to the store, they can ponder the high winds rain and cooling temperatures that are swooping in.

Ah yes, the adventure continues...

The Captain Reporting

UKC Update 55

Eva Reports 6:43 am EST

Good luck to the Hazel Brothers. I figure they are about a day ahead of Jack and Brian.
It is 6:30 am And Jack just reported in from his sleeping bag. Brian is still snoring and Jack is gonna build a fire to get warm.
They paddled till 11:00pm last night still not to Mesick. He reports their plan is to do both dams today.The rain hasn't started yet so they want to get on the river before it does.
Be safe my friends.

UKC Update 54

The confusion continues for the Capt'n -

Here is some clarification for those wondering who the Hazel Brothers are. There appears to be two more cats out there that need herding.

Kelly Hazel reports:

Andy Hazel met Dan in September when he was canoeing near Portland. Dan told him about this trip. Andy talked to Dan about doing just the Manistee with him. Andy and his brother were not able to confirm they could get time off of work until last Monday. They tried to call Dan, but he of course was on the Ausable by then. Unfortunately Dan became ill and Andy and his brother Steve were not able to meet up in Grayling and paddle together. As for the canoe they are paddling- it is one of our Sawyers, but I am not sure which one. We have a Champ and a Charger. Andy is planning to pay for the race. He did not want to give Dan 50 to carry with him on the canoe trip. I hope this helps give some information.

UKC Update 53

Mark has finished! Somewhere around 5:30pm EST
No fan fair, no spectators, just the smiling faces of Mark and the girl working at the A&W Root Beer Stand; Mark celebrated and had his post challenge meal. "Have a nice day"
There has been some confusion on the Capt'ns part on the tracking the remainder of the challengers. To coin a phrase from Jim Woodruff - "It's like herding cats".
It's a who's done it, mystery sort of thing without a SPOT on the remaining craft.
So keep the information coming, the good the bad and the ugly. The peeps in the village wanna know!!
The Captain Reporting

Monday, October 5, 2009

UKC Update 52

Hazel Reports -

The Hazel boys have checked in Monday @ 11:30. They were @ M37. They had 26 miles on the river today so far and are still paddling.

UKC Update 51

Eva Reports 11:56 am EST:
Got a call from Jack M at 11:30 am Rainy all day yesterday with headwinds. Today is much better. Brian Keel saw a bear yesterday and some deer. They just passed Lucas Road and heading to 131 Want to make Mesick tonight but not sure if they will.
They will check in later.
Eva Reports:
Jack and Brian just made it passed 131 and it is 1:30 Brian is fishing for supper tonight and Jack is re-organizing his equipment. Jack says HI to all that are following the Kruger Challenge. The support has been fantastic.
They will update later.

UKC Update 50

Mark Reports - 9:00am EST

Oh what a good night sleep will bring.... MORE RAIN!! I didn't have the heart to tell him I was looking at 60+ degrees and sunshine, just across the small pond we call lake Michigan.

Mark reports feeling really good today; He's so glad he got some sleep to enjoy the last day on the river. Looks like he is paddling this last section alone, unless someone drops in to meet him. Getting to know the Michigan Paddling Community any thing is possible.

Mark figure he will complete the journey by 5:00pm EST today.

Keep you eye on that SPOT for up to minute updates on location!!

The Captain Reporting

UKC Update 49

Bob Bradford Reports
Filling in more gaps of coverage.
Here are a few things I know and some that I'm guessing at. I talked with Connie Cannon a few min. ago and she said that out of the pro boats it shakes out like this.
Don Brooks/ Brian Merrsman finished at Harvey bridge at 9:30 PM Sat.
Connie Cannon/Bill Brundage " " " " 9:38 PM "
Bruce Barton/ Rebecca Barton 9:39 PM "
Rick Gillingd/ Kari Waineright 12:45 PM "
Rick said that it started raining hard 5 min. before Harvey bridge.
I see that Toby's SPOT shows that him and Dave got to Harvey bridge a few hours ago and a little later than Mark did.
I tried Toby's phone but it goes to voice mail. I can only guess that they are camped there. I suspect that Mark is way over due for a good nap after the surge he put in.
I talked to Roxanne and Dan is home in bed and not able to hold any thing down yet. He will be going to the doctor on Monday. I guess Amy Keel ( Brian Keel's wife)brought him home yesterday afternoon.
I'm not sure about the Hazel brothers, or Brian Keel. They planned on going the rest of the way to Lake Michigan, but there no match for Mark. I hope they stick with Jack the rest of the way.
Keep up the good work on the web site

UKC Update 48

Photos by Mike Smith
The 7 mile portage

UKC Update 47

A look Back - Mark preps for the 7 mile portage - photo by Mike Smith

Mike Smith Reports

Had a good time talking with Mark although it was brief as he was on a mission for sure.
Brian hung around the campfire for awhile and had a good nights rest. He was in good spirits on Sun morning shoving off at 8:45am by himself.
I had a couple cups of coffee with Chuck Ambroy than made my way home. A great time was had by all, nothing better than listening to stories of the river.

UKC Update 46

Photos by Chuck Amboy
M72 Campground

UKC Update 45

Chuck Amboy Reporting - Fills in the gaps.

Mike and I had half expected Mark and Jack would accept our offer to cartop their canoes to the end of the portage, but they would not hear of it.

Attached are some pictures I took late afternoon Saturday as Mark, Jack & Kirt arrived at Ray's in Grayling, and as Mark and Jack were beginning their portage. The Crawford County Avalanche reporter was there also taking pictures. He was already in town covering the festival.

Since the paddlers were going to get some fast food in Grayling near the start of their portage, Mike and I headed back to camp and did our best at Saturday supper but hardly made a dent in the 15 pounds of barbecue venison he had hot and ready. (No pic.)

After several hours of portage, Mark was ready at 10:05 PM, eager to start his nighttime trip down the Manistee, with twin LED headlights on his bow. Mike, Kirt and Chuck to cheer him on see him off.

As Mark was pushing hard down the river, Mike and Jack enjoy a 'Smithfire', as Mike said Verlen called this style of campfire-from-roaring-inferno. Jack went to stay at a motel & get a shower, then set out down the river Sunday morning after a chat with Mike.

UKC Update 44

Hoping to get some information on Jack M. who opted to spend the night at Campground M72 as Mark pushed off on the night paddle; it's hard to say where he is on the river. Jack is paddling with Dan's nephew, Brian (I think).

Mark did catch up to Toby and Dave who were on the Kruger 100 cruise; a two day version of the famed Kruger 100 / 24 hour sprint. They paddled most of the day, picking up Jack Cramer who dropped in to paddle down from the 131 bridge for a day paddle. Mark made comment of how nice it was to see new faces on the river, an unexpected gift after many hours alone paddling through darkness.

No word on finish times from the pro boaters or any stories to share. I did miss a phone call from Bob Bradford last night; My bad. Either he had information or was looking for information as phone coverage yesterday was minimal til Mark set camp for the night.

Mark plans on finishing today, he is going to sleep in, fuel up with a good breakfast and take in and enjoy the last day out on the river. He has one more portage then smooth paddling to the finish.

If anyone has any information on the pro boaters and or Jack and Brian and would like to share, send it my way or post in the comments section of this post.

Eva Reports: Jack M and Brian Keel met up together today and are about 15 miles from Hwy 131. Brian cooking brats at the fire as Jack finishes setting up camp. Spirits are good and look for another great day of paddeling tomorrow.

The Captain Reporting

Sunday, October 4, 2009

UKC Update 43

After paddling straight through the night, Mark has passed Toby and Dave - pretty impressive; not that he passed them, but the fact going on no sleep.

In challenges like these, sleep in over rated, but critical .... "What"

Hey I sound like a politician!

The Captain Reporting

UKC Update 42

Word on the river is Jack Cramer will drop in and paddle with Mark for the day. No new news from Mark as of this posting.

The hunt is on Toby is on the move and Mark is a little ways back - looks like the makin's of an on river reunion. ( Both Mark and Toby paddled together in the epic Ultimate Hugh Heward earlier this year)

The Captain Reporting.

UKC Update 41

One think I'd like to mention is that Mark, Dan, Jack and Mike and Bob Bradford have all commented on how nice it is to see family and friends along the challenge.

The Koca's (sp) the Kitchen's (sp) the Crozier's the Smith's the Amboy's have all made their way out there to greet the challengers. Our players in the field, Janet Bradford and Carl Cole have made things interesting for me too, good information and great pics coming our way

It's very grounding for a challenger and the support gives you just the extra umph to get in a couple more miles on the river.

Hats off to the spectators for all their support!!

The Captain Reporting

UKC Update 40

Mark Reports 9:50 pm EST

As Mark pushed from the shore late last night on the Manistee, he had his fingers crossed that he wouldn't be fogged out like the Von Bradford Express who took a coyote break (see previous posts) when the fog got just too thick to paddle safely.

A look at the SPOT, and it shows Mark still on the water. I feel somewhat guilty after a full 8 hours sleep, two slices of strawberry rhubarb pie and my second mocha latte, but then I believe Mark feels for me being stuck in the city behind the key board as well. It's all perspective and I'm the one really missing out.

Mark did say he had his air horn out and he was hoping to come up on a couple sleeping papa bears (Toby and Dave) and scare the crap out of them when he paddles by.

It'll be interesting if Marks gets to them before they push from shore... keep an eye on those SPOTS!!

The Captain Reporting

Saturday, October 3, 2009

UKC Update 39

A look at the Kruger Dashboard

Mark Reports

On the M72 Hwy working the portage. The plan is to put in on the Manistee and paddle through the night. - Going Solo. Maybe real in Toby and Dave pulling the all nighter.

Jack will hook up with Dan's Nephew and paddle out in the morning. They'll camp at the M72 campground.

UKC Update 38

Mark Reports - 10:30am EST

Pushing on; but Dan's health is still suspect. Heaving again Dan is calling it; Rox is coming to get him off the river.

Nothing is etched in stone, but this was the word late morning; We'll see what the evening report brings us. The plan is to make it to Grayling.

Bob Bradford saw the pro boaters and Toby and Dave off this morning. They're all on the Kruger 100 route.

The Captain Reporting

UKC Update 37

Let the Kruger 100 begin -

Toby Tracker is activated and they Kruger 100 challengers are on the move. Traditionally the 100 is done in 24 hours. Time will tell...

The Captain Reporting

UKC Update 36

Carl Cole our man in the field gets some candid shots of the Tres Amigos at the Mc Masters Bridge. Here is Mark grabbing some shore.
Everyone in good health and good spirits. It's been a haul; Mother Nature continues to serve up the wind the cold the rain. Dan looks to be fairing well after a bout with the flu.

The key is to keep moving to stay warm. Mark stopped to call and cut the phone call short as he began to chill down rather quickly. Too warm for winter paddling clothes too cold for crocs and board shorts. What's a paddler to do.... keep'er moving. Here is a shot of Jack working it up river.

Bob Bradford Reports - early afternoon

Over at the M72 Campground meeting up with Kruger 100 participants. Toby and Dave have arrived. Bob off to get some firewood for the festivities.
The Captain Reporting

Friday, October 2, 2009

UKC Update 35

Mark Reports 12:35pm EST

Scores are in: Emergen C 1 vs. Gatorade 0

Dan is a new man!! Rebounding after drinking Emergen C - it's the only thing he can keep down.

With 10 miles today under their belt they're pushing forward to Grayling, MI. Stopping less do to the cold, keeping it moving to stay warm and staying away from the shivers; this is pure adventure. Everyone in good spirits...

The Captain Reporting

UKC Update 34

Bob Bradford Reports 8:41am EST

Truth in paddling... Bob corrects me on the finish time - Actually 3 days 13 hours and 25 min. Their pre-challenge goal reached to be under 4 days!!

Bob and Mike on their 5.5 hour lay over do to fog got little sleep, as the coyotes were going nuts all night felt like they were surrounded...


Bob will make the announcement at the M72 campground tonight before the Kruger 100. Bob stated it was pretty scary coming through there at night with that cat walk only a couple feet off the water.

Just finishing breakfast with the on-lookers, Evert Kozier and a hand full of others have been working their way down river with Janet cheering the Von Bradford Express all along!

They're off to the campground to meet up with everybody - shortly.

The Captain Reporting

UKC Update 33

Mark reports 7:51am EST

The big news is Dan has got the flu and has been heaving for the last couple of days. We hadn't said anything as we were not sure what their plan of action was going to be. Mark humped it to Mio a day ago got medication at the pharmacy. Dan is finally keeping food and drink down. They have been monitoring his health closely.

They're using the number system for well being; 1 being top shape -10 being dead. Dan has been at a 5 since Wednesday. Yeah half dead.

Today he is a 4 and the plan is to put in 20 plus miles. Quiting does not seem to be an option at this point, though we have looked at exit strategies if things worsen.

We used the number system with the girls on the MR 340 and the EC. It's a great system to address real health and welfare issues that surface on events like these. Team travel has its challenges. You owe it to the team to be factual.

The Captain Reporting

UKC Update 32

SPOT 7:37.58pm EST

The Von Bradford Express has done it!! They have have completed the first running of the Ultimate Kruger Challenge in 3 days 13hours 25 mins

We call that "hauling butt" in the Old Country! Nice effort!! I'm sure the stories will be flying tonight at the M72 campground up in Grayling.

Mark left a message stating Tres Amigos plan on pushing hard on Friday. Waiting for the am call to get the whole plan.

Incredible trip across Michigan - Outstanding!! -The Captain Reporting

Thursday, October 1, 2009

UKC Update 31

Mark reports 3:35pm EST
Made it through the boat pull , gonna paddle for another hour and see how everyone feels. Big days, very big days. This is tougher then paddling up the Huron River for sure,
Man O Man are Bob and Mike making tracks, go for it boys!!

UKC Update 30

Mark Reports 1:52pm EST
Working the portage at Mio Dam. Everyone in good spirits everyone pushing on. They got some good weather and sunshine. Wind has dropped off to nothing.
The pond looks a little dry from the picture. Gonna be a haul to some navigable water. - The Captain Reporting

UKC Update 29

Janet Bradford reports 11:03 EST

Fog so thick, you could cut it with a knife; Or at least pushed off the river for awhile.

After paddling by braille for a couple of hours Bob and Mike finally pulled off. Took a 5 1/2 hour break and got some sleep and played it safe. You don't set any records or live to paddle again if you are not safe.

No barges on the Manistee, but plenty of navigating needed. Fog is much different then paddling in the dark. Your light paves the way in darkness; In fog, your light blinds you with the reflection. Orientation is greatly impaired.

The Captain Reporting

UKC Update 28

Mark reports 7:47am EST

Frost on the pumpkin last night!! Boys sleeping in a bit. Again Mark appreciates all the support for the trip and the memorial.

Ah the pleasures of a raging morning fire.

The Captain Reporting

UKC Update 27

Mark picks some prime real estate for camp last night. This Pine has to be a couple hundred years old.
Making good use of the down time to dry out gear. It will be a brisk morning and dry mittens are priceless.

A look back at the put-in on Foote Pond. Lots of chop as Dan drops his Sea Wind into the pond. Man that water looks cold and uninviting.

UKC Update 26

Horseshoe Bend, Manistee River
Bob and Mike are just east of famed Horseshoe Bend; If there was ever a doubt, this should sway you to come paddle the Manistee.