Verlen Kruger biography: king of canoe adventurers
June 20, 2010
Here's a like-new inscribed-by-author copy that I found at a garage sale.
Hardcover. 305 pages.
Verlen Kruger started the modern scene in endurance adventure canoeing. He also developed the key boat design in the class.
He paddled epic adventures until he was in his 80's.
He's a local guy to us and I paddled with him and visited with him a few times over the years. He was an early inspiration to me. His first "celebrity" adventure with Steve Landick was really something: 25,000 miles upstream on all the major No. American waterways. Whew! Totally nuts!
This is an in-depth, candid authorized biography. Yeah, Verlen had short-comings, but he kept pushing and didn't give up.
I think it's funny how he always traveled with such a huge load. But he was a bear of a guy.
Apparently he was also an annoyance to his epic partners. Funny how adventures even work out in such situations, but some do! On his first big trans-Canadian epic he'd have him and his teammate back-track and wait and such for their filmmaker who kept on getting lost and delayed. They paddled the entire voyageur route in one season -- never done before. Never again! The voyageurs themselves did each half of the route in a season -- from east to the Soo -- and west from there to the Pacific -- so two seasons for the whole thing. Verlen and his partner started from the thaw -- well, from before the thaw -- they had to portage some early miles. And they ended on the final day before freeze-in. Close call! But the hold-ups must've infuriated his partner.
Then on the "Ultimate Challenge" with Steve -- Steve was an ex-SEAL who traveled light and fast and could come out of his tent and be ready in literally one minute. He kept getting way ahead of Verlen.
But Verlen was the far-sighted media and sponsor guy in all these events. So he was needed.
His boat design has also been revolutionary -- it's a combo of kayak and canoe, with easy-adjust seat-height for wave conditions. It's fast yet sea-worthy. Tippier than most canoes, but with a large capacity.
His touring motto was: "Keep It Moving." He kept the daily things he'd need near him in his cockpit, then just kept paddling. Stopping is what limits a paddler's distance. If one just keeps moving you can readily get 50-100 miles in a day. The same holds true for bicycles and even for cars. If distance is what you want, gotta keep moving. You don't have to go hard, just don't stop.
As Verlen's adventuring matured he added the cause of river and water conservation to his missions, giving his paddling a reason. He has done an amazing thing of bringing Michigan's waterways to the public eye, an attention that has persisted.
This is the main book about his life. (I have my copy that I'm keeping! But I'll pass along others that I come across.)