News from April: Gear, Maps and Paddling

April has come and gone so quickly and my departure for Umiujaq is now in less than two months. So much has happened and the whole thing seems much more real and close now. A couple updates from the last month and a half:

1. Big News: Finalist and Winner of the “Osez l’Aventure” grant!

When I first started writing this article I was one of the six finalists (click here for an article (in French) to see the other finalists) for an expedition grant for Quebec adventurers. The announcement was made on May 9, 2017 and I am one of the two winners! Given the quality of the other projects that have applied, I feel both proud and humble to have been chosen. One of the aspects that I believe helped me was the “solo” aspect of my expedition, as most of the other projects are team projects. This is an amazing program started by adventurer Frédéric Dion. Sponsors of the grant, apart from Frédéric, are Mountain Hardwear, Karavaniers and Espaces magazine.

You can find some articles on the grant program and winners here (French only): La Presse    Le Soleil    Journal de Montréal

2. Practice trip in the Adirondacks and a lot of paddling

I had a main “rehearsal” trip in the Adirondacks, specifically in the Saint Regis Canoe area at the end of April. I planned an itinerary with a lot of paddling and many portages in between ponds. This was really good to practice my transitions from hiking to paddling mode. The Saint Regis Canoe area is remote, wild and quiet as no motor boats are allowed in the area. I paddled under the sun, the rain and even some hail during the weekend, which was perfect to get some good practice! Paddling under the rain in a dry suit is a breeze, it does not make much difference since the dry suit keeps the rain out.

Once again that trip allowed me to make some modifications to my gear and to take note of things to add or remove from my gear list. These rehearsal trips are super helpful in my preparation. The next one will be in the month of May in the same area, though trough a different route.

I also try to get out on my boat at least 3-4 times a week for paddling sessions. The month of April had seen me paddling in Maryland, New York, British Columbia, Ohio. May session will be in Quebec, New York, Kentucky and Maryland. Yes I move around a lot!

3. I am done preparing my maps

After many hours of work using different mapping software, paper maps, Google Earth and even Google Maps, I am done annotating my paper maps and they are ready to be used in the field. I have maps for two potential routes for the first few days although I know which one I would like to use. These two routes merge in one 3-4 days into the trip. In areas where the terrain might be marshy I also have maps for alternative routes. On Lake Minto I have identified good and bad weather alternatives (bad weather ones tend to stick more to the shore).

The different rapids on the river are color coded, marshy areas are identified and approximate distance goals for each day are marked (a very approximate 20 km each day). For the river I will use the amazing maps developed by Lynette and Lester Kovac. I have scanned these maps so I can have an electronic copy on my phone. I will also have the routes stored in a GPS map on my phone.



4. Some additional gear changes. New solar charger!

I decided to change my solar charger setup following recent failures of my last one. I upgraded to a Goal Zero Nomad 14 solar panel connected to a Goal Zero Sherpa 50 power pack. I am very happy with the performance of the product so far. I am also thrilled that it works very well on the stern of my boat even while getting splashed on the whole day. I will be able to charge my drone batteries with this power pack by adding an inverter to it, which reduces the stress of not having enough batteries to shoot all the beautiful scenes I have in mind.

5. Another trip up North and a date change

Following a recent promotion on Air Inuit’s tickets, I have decided to head up North from June 21 to 28 for a practice trip. My husband will join and explore my potential route with me. It will be awesome training and a good opportunity to get used to the army of flies that live there in late June and July. Because of that I have pushed back the date when I head to Umiujaq by a few days to July 17, 2017. My expedition departure date remains unchanged: July 24, 2017.

In summary…

This is an exciting period and I feel like I need much more time to do all the preparation that I would like to do, but overall I am starting to feel ready for this trip. Although I am looking forward to the start of my expedition, I really, really enjoy the planning and training process!