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Backstage

In the backstage of America Extrema

12000 km cycling, walking and kayaking in the boreal forest

An experience deep into the heart of man

america extrema

I Itinerary: 4000 km cycling, 2000 km walking et 6000 km en kayaking

  1. End of April until October, 2015:

Cycling: Cap-Saint-Charles (Labrador, Canada; the easternmost point), Lodge Bay and Churchill Falls (NFLD & Labrador), Baie-Comeau, Chicoutimi and Amos (QC), Cochrane, Nipigon, Thunder Bay, Ignace, Pickle Lake and Windigo Lake (Ontario).

Walking and packrafting: Windigo Lake, Sachigo Lake, Oxford House, Thompson, Kinoosao, Caribou Lake, Cochrane River, Wollaston Lake, Fond-du-Lac River, Lake Athabasca, Slave River, Great Slave Lake, Mackenzie River, Norman Wells (NWT).

Sub-total: 4354 km on all-terrain bike (paved roads and trails)

812 km walking, incl. 160 km under power lines, 88 km on swampy grounds otherwise used for winter roads, 465 km on paved roads or on trails, 43 km on railways, 4 km in the wilderness and 52 km portaging.

3282 km packrafting, incl. 473 km counter-current and 1130 km on lakes.

Total: 8448 km

Cycling: From Labrador to northwestern Ontario, 4354 km

The cycling part of my trip will start as early as possible in the season, as soon as roads are clear from snow, and will be lasting approximately one month. I will be using an all-terrain bike (ATB) with 10-kilos bags containing everything needed for bivouac. The last assaults of winter as well as the unpaved parts of the Labrador Highway could slow me down. For logistical as well as economic reasons, I selected one single set of polyfunctional equipment suitable for 3 seasons, but snow falls could place me in uncomfortable situations.

Walking and packrafting: From Ontario to the foot of the Rockies, 4094 km

This, the most difficult part of my trip, will be a pathbreaking first. The difficulties will arise due to sequence of multiple rapids and waterfalls along the rivers I will be navigating, and due to the navigation on lakes where the wind could hinder any forward movement. The intricate network of lakes and rivers is such that my proposed itinerary would be impossible to follow without a packraft (inflatable kayak) that can easily be carried in a packsack. But the weak point of such a watercraft is its slow movement: only 4 km/h on a lake without wind, though a sail can be used in windy conditions. For the same reason, I still ignore whether I will be able to navigate upriver with my packraft on the 473 km section between Caribou Lake and Wollaston Lake. If that is too much of a problem, I will have to either walk along the river banks or buy a canoe on the spot. However, my estimate is that my packraft will do the work.

b) In situ hibernation from October 2015 until May 2016:

Since I never experienced the winter cold, I have very poor knowledge of the equipment that would be suitable in such harsh conditions. I will then suspend my expedition for a nearly 7-month period, which I will be using to… get a rest, write down my notes and prepare the next steps of my expedition.

c) End of May until September 2016:

Walking: Norman Wells, McMillan Pass and Ross River.

Packrafting: Ross River, Faro, Pelly Crossing, Fort Selkirk, navigation on the Yukon River down to Kaltag (Alaska).

Walking and packrafting: Kaltag, Unalakeet, Ungalik, Koyuk, Moses Point, Nome, Teller and Cape Prince of Wales (westernmost point in Alaska, close to the Bering Strait).

1100 km walking, including 600 km to get across the Rockies and 500 km walking shorelines in Alaska.

2500 km packrafting, downstream only.

Total: about 3600 km

Crossing of the Rockies

Probably the most dramatic part of my trip, this will be done by hiking the Canol Heritage Trail. Due to its duration (nearly 18 days), this section of my trip, in total self-sufficiency, will be a heavy burden on my packsack already loaded with 15 kilos of equipment. However, the western hillside is criss-crossed by a trail. It is possible that, thanks to an American friend, a bike would be put at my disposal, which I would use to get to the McMillan Pass aircraft landing place. I would then save 6 days in self-sufficiency.

Navigating down the Yukon River

Packrafting down this legendary river will be the last step of my trip across Canada. I will then enter American territory and cross the major part of Alaska. This will certainly be the easiest part of my expedition.

Alaska shorelines

I will leave the Yukon River near Unalakeet and will then walk at least part of the Iditarod Trail, whose full distance can only be traveled in the winter. In order to get to Cape Prince of Wales, I will walk along the Pacific shorelines and packraft across some of the bays. My experience with sea kayak taught me that crossing such bodies of water requires the utmost caution.

II America Extrema aims at 4 objectives

 

a) Successfully set a first: Single-handedly crossing the whole of North America from it easternmost to its westernmost points, without resorting to any mechanized means of transportation.

b) Experiment the four following practices in the framework of my expedition:

· Barefoot walking
Our feet contain as many sensors as our hands, and as many sweat glands as our armpits. In short, they are not at all meant to be locked-up into footwear. This inadequation of footwear was worsened in the 80s due to the marketing of shoes loaded with shock absorbing features which now became as many profitable sources of income for massage therapists, osteopaths, etc. Runners are especially concerned. (This is too vast a question for a short paper such as this. However, I will gladly give any further information on the subject.) The new generations, who now are provided with «good comfortable footwear» even before they learn walking, are preparing for major health problems.

· Respecting a vegan diet
In increasing numbers, high level athletes and even Olympic medalists bring the proof that this type of food restriction not only poses no health threat, but is not incompatible with high physical performances. Choosing not to eat meat products is a citizen action helping to fight against pollution, global warming, deforestation and animal abuse. Choosing our food is our new way of voting for a better world and a better health.

· Fasting
I will eat only one meal per day, in the evening, for the following reasons. Having an empty stomach while practicing a physical activity is the best way to rid the body of its accumulated toxins. The body performs better if the stomach is empty rather than fully occupied by digestion. Moreover, eating once a day is enough, considering our physiological needs. Our dependence on the institutional breakfast-lunch-supper triad, together with snacks and coffee breaks, are but a sad reflection of our deeply addictive and inappropriate eating habits. Regular fasting is the surest remedy allowing to reconnect with healthy eating and getting rid of food addictions which poison our lives. Fasting also has many forgotten therapeutic effects which science is now rediscovering.

· Meditating
Having now been a buddhist for one year, I meditate every day. Meditation will be a valuable asset helping to face any adverse situation, whatever it might be.

Through these four hygienist practices, which I will comply with as much as I possibly can, I wish not only to optimize my physical condition during the expedition, but also to attract attention on them and communicate their benefits.

c) Bear witness to Men and Nature in the isolated countrysides of North America. I will meet with isolated First Nations communities saddling between tradition and modernity. In particular, I will be greatly interested to learn about their initiatives to rehabilitate their cultures in the modern world and to develop activities respectful of Men and Nature. I will also enquire about the climate changes being observed at these high latitudes, about the environment preservation programs as well as about the environmental impacts of the new economic issues.

d) Communicate the testimonies and experiences gathered through America Extrema, on my Web site, in lectures or conferences, in a book and in a movie (produced with a Gopro).

III Food (vegan diet)

White rice, buckwheat flour, oatmeal, red lentil

Olive oil and canola

Dry fruits

Oilseeds

IV Equipment

Partial list of the equipment to be used in the expedition:

– Bushbuddy wood burning heater

– Snow Peak Trek titanium cookware, 1,4 L

– Arkmat sleeping pad, 200 cm

– Big Agnes Fly Creek ul 1 tent

– Cumulus Teneqa 700 duvet sleeping bag

– Vapor barrier line

– Canteen 1 L Platypus soft bottle closure cap

– GPS Etrex 30 Garmin

– Compass vtt mtbo orientsport

– Casio sgw 400 h watch

– Gopro Silver hero 3

– Delorm Inreach beacon

– Kevlar 10 L bag

– Lithium AAA and AA cells

– Packraft Alpaca Yukon Yak, with skirt and sail

– Sawyer paddle

– Berghaus Vulcain III 100 L packsack

– Hyperlite Mountain Gear leak-tight bags

– All-terrain bike (ATB)

– Bags for the bike

V Precautions

· No medecines or drugs of any kind in my first aid kit (duly considered choice), but only what is needed to disinfect wounds, sew their edges and dress them.

· The Delorme Inreach beacon will allow me to send SMSs to all portables, to give my daily geolocalization (shown on my Web site) and to issue an SOS.

· No arms or weapons.

VI Budget

 

Item

Expenses (euros)

Equipment

8500

Equipment replacements

2500

Food: 10 euros/day + extras

4000

Parcels delivery charges

2000

Air travel (round trip)

2000

Accomodations

0

Subscription, Delorme deacon

400

TOTAL

19400

 

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