I would like to share my experience on the almighty Backwhacker. This course is roughly 30 miles of added upstream paddling verse the Bushwhacker. It is 84 miles upstream and 59 miles downstream with a 7 mile portage. First of all, what a great start with friends and families to witness. Four teams going upstream and four teams going down stream. No big pile ups as years before. How exciting to pass teams this early in the race.
Jacob Cesar, like a bullet, was long gone. Mark P. and Todd C. and myself hung together for about 2 miles. Then Mark and I decided to pick up the pace to catch young Cesar. The first bridge he was already up by 6 minutes and still going strong. What an adventure! Somewhere after about 15 portages, we finally caught up to Jacob. The three of us paddled as a team 18 miles to Pleasant Valley Road. Thank God Kathy L. was just pulling up in her truck or we may have gone passed that bridge. Things look a little different going the other way. We pulled our boats onto the road and set our wheels for the 7 mile portage. As I was putting on my shoes, I discover 8 leaches on my feet. Young Cesar burned them off and we set off on our portage. I was cramping so much that we had to take a lot of breaks. Mark and Jacob were very patient with me during this difficult time. Kathy L. met us at the top of heart attack hill with water and high spirits. Kathy L. does so much for us, and we all love her so much for caring. We rolled our boats down the hill and set up camp. The Chippewa River was running real fast when we set in at 6:00 am Sunday morning. My seat and foot pegs were out of place and was having trouble adjusting them while going down stream. I got snagged on a couple of rocks and rolled my boat. Jacob and Mark witness this and came to my rescue. Mark asked if I was hurt and I replied "Only my pride". Off we went towards Midland . Jacob ran the rapids through Mt. Pleasant,while Mark and I wheeled around that dangerous area.
Mark was real sick and dropped out at the Nature Center in Midland. That was a totaled of 84 miles. I felt very sad that Mark could not continue but, understood his decision. Jacob and I paddled up the Pine River about 4 miles and made camp. Huge storms rolled through that evening and the Pine River rose about 12 inches over night. Jacob did not hear any thunder that evening. He slept through the whole thing. We set in the Pine River Monday morning at 6:00 am and paddled 25 miles up stream. We took a much needed break during the day, in which teams Dan S. and Charlie P., Mike L. and Jim K., and Brandon L. and Friend showed up on their way to Midland. We visited for about 10 minutes and it was great to see them.
Off they went towards midland, and Jake and I set our goal on Saint Louis. We were rested up a little took an hour break and ate some food. paddled into the nite and fell short of our goal. We camped near Clark road, got up Tuesday around three a.m. paddled into Saint Louis around six thirty.
Our spirits were up lifted and a couple of my employees meet us out on the river for a visit. I purchased a spot so they new exactly where we were. Jake and I paddled to Cesar crossing and took another two hour break. We set back in and came to Sumner park and Todd picked us up and took us home so we could finish Wednesday. My sister is up from North Carolina and wanted to watch us finish and go to the ceremony at eight p.m., so we planed a noon start to finish at that time, but thunder storms were rolling in , so we dropped weight (gear) and went at a fast pace.It ended up taking us five and a half hours to go that ten miles.The water was very fast in some places.I also asked Jake if he would like to sprint from Madison road to lumberjack bridge for all the bragging rights . Young Jake nailed me by a half of boat length , congratulations Jacob this was a lot of fun, you are the man. You won the bushwhacker and Backwhacker back to back! All my love and respect to all teams and people who started this great adventure. -Jack Murgittroyd.