Maybe you’ve prepared for the same portage. Or maybe you’ve only heard stories about Death March Portage located near the middle of Quetico Provincial Park. I hope the name doesn’t portend a likely outcome. Emilie and I will cross it early in our trip next month.
In order to reach Death March and return with 10 days, we plan to fly to the southwest edge of the park and paddle north, eventually exiting at Nym Lake, about 7 kilometers from the small town of Atikokan. And in order to get through it without too much difficulty, I started a workout routine.
I’ve heard various accounts of Death March, ranging from a brutal portage to a long walk in the woods. A past Death Marcher and I traded emails about his experience. He lost the trail and was about to turn back when he came across people coming from the other direction who helped him get back on the portage.
I figure if there’s a chance of getting lost, I should be as physically able as possible. The past few months have been filled with a lot of leg-day, shoulder and back workouts.
The Battle Rope
Using ropes like the kind I used to climb toward the ceiling in grade school gym class, I snap these ropes in an alternating up and down motion. I’m working on my back and getting a cardio workout. I’m expecting this to help with stamina.
Tire Carry and Lunge
I might be making up this name. It is what it says. I’m “simply” carrying a tire over my head and incorporating lunges into my walk. It’s easy until it gets difficult almost all at once. It works my thigh muscles and hips. Here I’m pretending that carrying a tire is like carrying a canoe and pack. We’ll do Death March in one pass, so I’ll need to carry a lot of gear.
Pictured at the top of this post, the flipping tire works my hamstrings, back and glutes. Just squat, grip the tire, and lift with the legs. Maybe this will help with lifting gear. Can’t hurt.
More controlled that the other exercise, this squat machine focuses on quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves.
Dumbbell Stair Climbing
Here I’m working quadriceps and calves, and getting a bit of an upper body workout. Feels like a good workout for carrying extra weight up and down hills and across boulder-strewn portages.
Last year, Emilie worked out with a trainer for a few weeks to get in shape for Sauvage and Bonhomme portages. It was fun working out together, and we felt it helped us on Sauvage, which was particularly tough.