Camp Widjiwagan Boy’s Voyageur Trip – Summer 2011 – Dubwant River to Thelon River to Baker Lake, Nunavut
Read about Robbie Seltzer-Schultz and his amazing expedition with 6 other young men through the Arctic to Nunavut.
A few months ago; a young man named Robert Seltzer-Schultz wrote me a letter asking for H2O to sponsor a seven-week expedition on Arctic rivers that he and a few of his friends were part-taking in. I receive several sponsorship requests a week, most of which are from people that just inquire on a mass scale for free products. Robert was different; he took the time to write me a personal letter, and explain why this trip was so important. He did not demand our paddles, he did not say that H2O would get mass amounts of exposure and supporting him would make our company visible on a global scale; Robert connected with me on a personal level. He requested our paddles because he needed something reliable and trustworthy. To Rob, this was more than an annual expedition, it was an adventure where several young men would push themselves to their limit to find our what they were capable of. I really liked that... ALOT. I liked it because that is what paddling and adventure is about. It is not about exposure, it is not about profit and it is not about fame. To Rob; this trip was about personal growth and satisfaction. So we sent Rob and his partners some paddles to assist in their journey.
I asked Rob for some pictures and something I could share with our Fans and he sent me this. I hope you enjoy reading about their incredible feat.
"For the past 80 years, Camp Widjiwagan, based out of Minnesota, has led youth on canoe and backpacking trips all over the United States and Canada. The culmination of this program is the Voyageur Trip, a seven-week expedition on Arctic rivers for young adults just having graduated from high school. Our trip was honored to have the support of H2O Paddles in equipping us with their paddles for the aggressive whitewater found on our route.
After months of anticipation, planning and a turbulent bush-plane flight out of northern Saskatchewan, we began our trip on Wholdaia Lake in the Northwest Territories, the headwaters of the Dubawnt River. For two weeks we paddled north on the Dubawnt, going from boreal forest to taiga to eventually barren expanses of
tundra. The Dubawnt was a slow-moving mid-sized river with many technical whitewater sections that tested our skills but were all shootable, even in canoes carrying close to 500 kg each. However because of our early start, many of the lake stretches remained frozen and we dragged for multiple kilometers across the ice.
In order to reach the Thelon River, we had to swing upstream and achieve a height of land, leading to a grueling four day trek, lining up sets, dragging across ice and portaging many kilometers. The midnight sun allowed us to travel as long as our bodies would allow and pushed ourselves hard, often spending 14-plus hours on the water in order to reach the Thelon’s rapid down-stream current.
After enduring exhaustion, near-hypothermia, and treacherously thin ice that almost finished our trip, we reached the Thelon and joined its swift descent into Hudson Bay. Under a stretch of sunny skies that lasted for the rest of the journey, we cruised down the Thelon, often paddling 100 km days and shooting giant, if not highly technical sets. Along the course of the Thelon, we shot every set except one giant canyon section named “The Gorge” that we instead portaged nearly 5km around.
The last part of the journey traversed three giant lakes preceding Baker Lake, itself an inlet of Hudson Bay. Although we were no longer shooting whitewater, the paddles across these lakes were some of the most breathtaking of the trip. The water expanded all the way to the horizon line and the tundra landscape, an undulating pattern of green, blue and gray held a powerful beauty in its vast emptiness.
After 7 weeks and 1200 km of paddling, we reached our endpoint of Baker Lake, an Inuit community in Nunavut. We left with an immense amount of pride for what we’d achieved as a group and a deep-felt respect for the arctic and its rivers."