Epic canoe trip approaches final stop: the Arctic Ocean

Six dedicated canoeists stopped in Fort McMurray earlier this month, preparing for the final leg of an ambitious journey that took them from the southern U.S. to Canada's most northern reaches.

Trip started in January at Mississippi Delta; final stop is Bathurst Inlet in Nunavut

By the time they reach the Arctic Ocean, the group will have pass through 10 U.S. states, as well as three provinces and two territories in Canada. (Rediscover North America )

After 200 days in a canoe, John Keaveny has seen a lot — the shores of the Mississippi River, rough rapids in Minnesota, and massive wildfires burning in northern Saskatchewan.

But it was the sight of Fort McMurray that brought relief to Keaveny and his five fellow paddlers when they arrived earlier this month. A place to recharge after finishing a punishing 20-kilometre portage.

"It was pretty incredible," he told CBC's Edmonton AM. "It was quite an endeavour."

For about the past seven months, Keaveny and five friends have been on an ambitious journey —  more than 8,500 kilometres of lakes and rivers from the Gulf of Mexico to the Arctic Ocean.

Dubbed "Rediscover North America," the trip took them across across 10 U.S. states before hitting Manitoba. They then snaked their way through Saskatchewan into Alberta.

The water will take them through the Northwest Territories and eventually to their final destination: the Bathurst Inlet in Nunavut.

"We don't have a go-to cause," Keaveny said. "This trip is kind of an adventure for adventure's sake."

Hear the full interview with John Keaveny

The epic canoe journey started on a foggy day in January, when the team launched into the waters of the Gulf of Mexico from the Mississippi Delta.

"We only had about 200 feet of visibility … we knew we were looking off into this huge expanse, but we couldn't see it."

The group has planned a series of resupply drops in towns and cities along the route. Keaveny said part of the goal of the trip was the meet new people along the trip, many who have offered food and shelter to the canoeists.

"That kind of re-energizes me, people have been so helpful. We've had such gracious hosts," he said.

"I think we kind of look forward to the stops in cities … you go make your phone calls, talk to your family and friends."

After Fort McMurray, the group planned to follow the Clearwater River, intending to next stop in Yellowknife for supplies before continuing north.


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