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Eat, sleep paddle

Canoe design on trip

Steven Landick was the presenter at the Wooden Canoe Regional Assembly presented by the Upper Peninsula chapter of the Wooden Canoe Heritage Association at Tourist Park Campground on Saturday. Landick spoke about his Ultimate Canoe Challenge, a 28,000-mile trip through North America that he completed over 3 1/2 years with his good friend Verlen Kruger. (Journal photo by Amy Grigas)

MARQUETTE — The 2019 Great Lakes Wooden Canoe Assembly took place Saturday at Tourist Park in Marquette.

The event was sponsored by the U.P. Chapter of the Wooden Canoe Heritage Association.

The presenter for the event was Steven Landick, a veteran Navy Seal, former Negaunee math teacher and world-famous canoeist.

What began as an idea in 1975 turned into what is known as The Ultimate Canoe Challenge. A total of 28,000 miles were canoed over the course of 3 1/2 years. Landick partnered with close friend Verlen Kruger and, in the beginning of the trip, his father in-law.

“Verlen is a big influence on my life,” said Landick.

The Ultimate Canoe Challenge started in the headwaters of the Missouri River in Montana on April 29, 1980. Both men used Loon canoes that were designed by Kruger. During the trip Kruger designed another canoe known as the Monarch, which Landick ended up using.

Landick explained “the canoes do not look like normal canoes you see today.”

The Loon canoes had adjustable seats, a rudder, were 17 feet long and 28 inches wide.

The motto of the trip was pretty much “eat, sleep, paddle,” said Landick. Throughout the journey the men would hook their canoes together to make a catamaran. This allowed one man to paddle while the other rested or slept.

By having their own separate canoes Landick and Kruger were able to go at different paces throughout the trip. There were times when they would go their separate ways and then meet back up again.

“We didn’t have cell phones back then so we communicated through our family back home or had a designated meeting spot,” said Landick.

Throughout the trip friends and family would meet up with Landick and Kruger and paddle a portion of the trip with them.

“Along the way we met a lot of friendly people who would share food with us or let us camp in their yards,” Landick said.

The trip concluded on Dec. 13, 1983. After the trip Landick went to Northern Michigan University where he graduated with a degree in math. He taught at Negaunee Public Schools until he retired in 2014.

Today he enjoys paddling but “I don’t do a lot of races,” he said. When he is not paddling, Landick enjoys working on canoes.

Amy Grigas can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 243. Her email address is agrigas@miningjournal.net.