A northern Ontario paddler with some impressive treks under his belt has completed his latest — and longest — solo paddling expedition.
Mike Ranta, who hails from the northwestern Ontario town of Atikokan, began a nearly seven month journey when he set out from Vancouver on April 1.
He arrived at Dominion Beach, Nova Scotia, on Tuesday.
"It's kind of surreal in a way. I made it in 200 days and I'm just beside myself," said Ranta.
"And I couldn't think of a better place to end it than Cape Breton. It's just been a wonderful reception here."
A crowd gathered to watch Ranta, and his faithful travelling companion Spitzii the dog, as they arrived on the beach, he said.
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This wasn't Ranta's first solo cross-country paddle. In 2014, he and Spitzii made a trip from Vancouver to Nova Scotia that he believes broke a world record. But this trip marked the first time he made it as far as Cape Breton.
"I've had a lot of fun on this trip," Ranta said, although he also acknowledged that there were some rough patches.
"There's a lot of places that were very isolated."
Journey dedicated to veterans
The long, and often lonely trip was brightened by the people he met along the way, said Ranta, especially the veterans, to whom the journey was dedicated.
"It was such an amazing feeling to touch base with all these people from our country," he said, "and listening to some of the stories that they had, and the comradery they have with each other — what a beautiful feeling."
Along the way, Ranta stopped at many Legions to meet with veterans, hear their stories, and have them sign his canoe.
Now that his journey is over, Ranta said he plans to spend a few days on the East Coast, before driving back to Atikokan, Ont.
He's already planning out a new route for his next adventure.