Canadian Kayaker Found ‘Purification’ on Epic 11,000km Loop

Sixty-five-year-old Canadian kayaker Mark Fuhrmann recently completed an 11,000km loop that began and ended in Nova Scotia. Along the way, he traveled both the Mississippi River and the Atlantic coast. His impetus? Searching for a fresh viewpoint 10 years after the death of his wife.

“I never knew what was around the bend, but it was a fantastic journey…even though I would never do it again,” the adventurer told the CBC.

Fuhrmann’s route took him westward through the St. Lawrence River system, then southwards through various watersheds (including the Mississippi) until the Gulf of Mexico. From there, he traced the coastline east to Florida and cut across the peninsula. Then he paddled back north along the Atlantic seaboard all the way up to Novia Scotia again. The Florida bit was replete with alligators, according to an interview with Saltwire.

“I got torpedoed by a gator when I was going through the middle of Florida,” he said. “But dangers aside, I made it.”

a map showing a loop around North America

A rough approximation of Fuhrmann route. Map: Google Earth, ExplorersWeb


Reverse the bad

The kayaker told the CBC he camped in his tent most of the time but also somewhat sheepishly crashed on private docks, empty boats, and in unlocked hunting cabins.

“At first, I felt very embarrassed because I’m 65 and I’m in a place where maybe I shouldn’t be. But I thought, if it was me, what would I do? If it was my cabin, what would I do? And when I went in, I left it better than when I came,” he said.

Only once did this strategy backfire: an American woman packing a pistol in her housecoat confronted Fuhrmann. But everyone else he met was fantastic, the kayaker said.

“Sometimes I even took a Coca-Cola or something and I left $5 or $10 and I wrote a note and said, ‘Hi, my name is Mark. I’ve been here. I’m on the reverse the bad journey.’ I just hope people smiled when they saw it,” he continued.

Fuhrmann’s “reverse the bad” line was a sort of personal mantra. For Fuhrmann, the phrase means to shed the negative. “[The trip has] cleansed me,” Fuhrmann told Saltwire. “Instead of skyscrapers, I’ve seen sunsets. Instead of houses, I’ve seen horizons, and I’ve been in that element for more than 12 months.”

“It’s just purified me.”

Andrew Marshall

Andrew Marshall is an award-winning painter, photographer, and freelance writer. Andrew’s essays, illustrations, photographs, and poems can be found scattered across the web and in a variety of extremely low-paying literary journals.
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