Staff Men Prepare for 2,800-Mile Expedition

By Ben Woods

Final preparations are underway on Rainy lake for the most ambitious Arctic expedition ever mounted by a group of Kooch-i-ching staff men: a 120-day, 2,800-mile journey from Deer Island to the Coronation Gulf.

Paul Beach, Quinn Pinaire, Zach Schiller and the Brothers Lloyd arrived at the Foundation House this month to print maps, pack food, rig boats and coordinate supply drops before whitewater training in Duluth, Minnesota on May 5 and a planned departure as early as May 7. (Jimmy Knoll is finishing up an accounting degree in Cincinnati and will join the other five in early May.)

Key sponsors of the 2007, 2013 and 2017 Arctic expeditions came through again for the Source Runs North team: canoes from Nova Craft, paddles from Bending Branches, personal gear from NRS and, most critically, bug shirts from The Original Bug Shirt Company. The team has also raised nearly $9,000 for a gear fund to be used by future Kooch-i-ching expeditions.

For sustenance, the Source Runs North boys will bring 60 pounds of coffee, 150 pounds of peanut butter and 180 pounds of pemmican, a calorie- and protein-dense mixture of dried meat and tallow favored by Native Americans, Voyageurs and other early explorers.

With their proposed push-off just weeks away, the team is focused, excited and a little apprehensive. “My feelings come in waves,” says Bram Lloyd, 23, the youngest, yet strongest, member. “Waves of hyper-excitement, waves of anxiety, and waves of ‘I’m ready to start paddling.’”

To learn more about the Source Runs North expedition, visit sourcerunsnorth.com or come to the Camping & Education Foundation’s Spring Gala in Cincinnati on April 27, where Quinn, Jimmy and Zach will make a presentation alongside members of the 1974 Coppermine River trip.

This article was originally published in the Spring 2019 issue the Kooch-i-ching Tumpline.