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Canada! My illegal border crossing…

June 22, 2011

June 17, Canada

The wind was blowing from the south, the conditions were perfect. The waves were reasonable but I was still anxious to test my belief that the lake was nothing more than a small harmless mountain puddle.

My goal was a campsite about 15 miles from the border. It was 34 miles away; a reasonable distance for a day of traveling. As I moved into the largest part of Lake Champlain the waves reached about a foot and a half and the wind blew 10 miles per hour gusting to about 15. I did not even get sprayed. The perilous Lake Champlain spared me.

Since the wind was coming from the south east, I moved to the protection of the eastern islands in front of Plattsburg. The largest of those islands is called La Motte. There the water was almost perfectly flat and helped me gain some speed. It was also the most direct route.

As I got to Plattsburg the wind slowed down quite a bit but I had enough wind to move and besides I was getting pushed forward by the current since the wind driven water transfer phenomenon was now working for me.

It was about 3 when I got in front of my intended campsite. I could not bear spending a night so close to the border. I still had 25 miles to go if I wanted to get to my first stop after the border but I chose to go for it even if it meant travelling at night.

I slowly got to the border. It was about 8 when I passed it. There was no border house. Everything had been flooded. I was soon well into Canada pushed by the current of the Richelieu River and I had no opportunity to register my entry. Turning around and reentering the US without registering my entry in the US in order to register my entry into Canada would have potentially put me into a world of trouble. I knew that I had found myself in an administrative impossibility that I would have to resolve from dry land.

I stopped at a campground that had just recently reopened. The flooding damage was rather manifest, some trailers sporting the high water mark.  

I had traveled 100 km in one day. I was now in Canada. I could barely believe it. The sun set after I touched ground.

  1. Scott permalink

    Almost there Rene! Congrats!

  2. Mike permalink

    Well done Rene

  3. David B Sr permalink

    welcome back! Its been interesting (major understatement) following your journey. Even though its not completely over, it must be so awesome to come into contact with so many different people and places in this venue. Its not like meeting random people on the street., with their busy ness and sometimes ignorance. I would guess most of the people you have come in contact with have been “water people”, connected in one way or another to the wonderful resource that God has blessed us with. When David Jr called home from Quinby Virginia and shared the experience, to me it showed God’s providence over your journey, given the fact that there you were a mile from mainland in an Eastern Shore of Virginia salt marsh, minutes away by motor boat from a fishing/clamming town (200 people maybe at high tide), that had seen its hey days back in the 70’s, but still you, given all the obstacles that were facing you, probably felt more alone than you ever have.
    Backtrack to 10 years ago with myself, David Jr and his brother Derek doing a 20 mile hike with Boy Scouts along the Chesapeake and Ohio canal and Derek stating “dad, why do we even need to do this?” I chimed in that in the grand scheme of things it wont matter if we walk it or not, we could stop if we wanted to. I said that we should do it to show to ourselves that if pressed to have to push ourselves to do any difficult task, that we could keep this in our “fuel tank” to encourage us to make it through any future challenge.
    This brings me to a final point. You didnt have to take on this challenge, you are doing it solo, you (in some eyes) have subjected yourself to danger needlessly, what will it prove? I say, only you have those answers, and maybe you dont even have them as of yet, but one day you will. What you do have is an experience that is like no other that any human being has ever experienced, unique to you! You have a lifetime of experience and drama (good and bad) in a relatively short span of time. Most of all, I think, you have a “full tank of fuel” to help get you through the road of life.
    I appreciate the ability to follow along with your trip, and hope that your fuel tank never runs dry as you are confronted with the long roads life sometimes throws at us. Recall those memories of the marsh mud, ticks, mosquitoes, cold waves, hot sun, strong tides (wrong direction), contrary winds, empty water bottles, broken kayak parts, endless canals, unmarked channels, and wow, isnt that enough? Then recall, the friendly, giving, unselfish, helpful, and interesting people that were placedt in your path. Also recall the many moments of chosen solitude to absorb all of God’s creation in its fullness. My words fall short to describe what I have experienced through your experiences put onto computer, so I will stop here.
    I look forward to a novel or documentary to follow, as I believe many others would as well.

    Welcome “home” and God bless,
    David B Sr.

    • Thank you for your input David. I’m often stumped when people ask me why I do such things because I just don’t know how to explain it in a manner that they can understand or sounds satisfactory to me.

      I sometimes tell them that I need to do some of the crazy stuff I dream up so I can continue coming up with grand schemes. I do feel like having too many unrealized ideas can eventually be a source of frustrations.

      I can also put a functional spin since I will publish a book and the pictures will be sold. This sort of experience always pays dividends in some way or another but I doubt that this would be enough to commit to such a crazy and costly trip.

      The first two explanations as well as yours are correct and I could think of many other good reasons but I really don’t know why I committed myself to such a project given the amount of hardship that came with it. I never ever had any romantic ideas about the act of spending all that time trudging on a 13 foot boat.

      I do know I that I had to do it and that now that it’s done I’m dreaming about walking the Wall of China or crossing Mongolia or some other expedition type trip that would preferably not involve so many snakes. Humanitarian work also comes to mind.

      I guess that the positive aspects had to outweigh the hardships. Perhaps the physical and psychological hardships that come from loneliness and long days are not the sort that have much hold on me (or anyone else for that matter) while the endeavor made me feel quite alive.

  4. Josef Roesler permalink

    How did you finally make it right with the authorities? What was the final cost of your trip?

    • A phone call was enough. Nothing to do actually, the guy told me not to do it again. I reentered the US a few weeks later, no problem. My guess is that they don’t monitor that closely.

  5. Maggie permalink

    I have walked over a border into usa from canada illegally! Vancouver into washington state! I always wonder if i could do it again! I really would like to. As i love the challenge!

  6. Maggie permalink

    Whos up for a challange! Im from scotland and flew to france, toronto, then vancouver! Then hop hop. Into usa no one there but a camera peering into space! So easy and really had my blood pumping! Maybe to some vain people out there think. … What a moron!! When i need to do somthing crazy. I do it! I have adhd so maybe thats part of it! Whos up for a challenge then! Usa officials and candians are dumb! Prove that fact 2 yrs ago! Maybe i should write a book of my adventure! Even take payments to let people know where i walked in! Hmm cause comon now. How do the drug dealets etc get iin!! Exactly But isnt my problem cause they are everywhere! But i will say onething! USA COPS. Can kiss my white scottish ass!! Your a bunch of big headed brainless twats! And treat british nationals like shit! Karma will repay u one day!! May i add not all cops just the arrogant ones! Have a nice day peeps. May the grass stay greener on the other side….,,.

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