This story is featured in the Buyer’s Guide 2013 issue of Canoe & Kayak Magazine which can be purchased here.
Words: Frederick Reimers
Illustration: Aaron McKinney
Not long ago, the morning after a Yukon Jack bender inside a cabin filled with mosquito-coil smoke, Eddy filled a Duluth pack with rocks, donned his moose-fur suit, and set off on a 10-mile hike to sweat out all the toxins. Did it work? Not exactly, says Dr. Rachel Vreeman, coauthor of Don't Swallow Your Gum! Myths, Half-Truths, and Outright Lies About Your Body and Health. "The only function of sweat is to cool the body," she says. "Sweat contains, water, electrolytes, and maybe a few trace minerals. Toxins—things like heavy metals, chemicals and alcohol—get filtered out of the blood stream by your liver and kidneys and eliminated in the urine or feces. There's no connection between those systems and the sweat glands." Even if you are pounding water, she says, you can't speed the liver or kidneys up by flooding the system, assuming you are already hydrated. If you want fewer toxins, says Dr. Vreeman, your best bet is to reduce exposure to them in the first place. Drink less, don't smoke, and stop eating lead paint chips. Fair enough, but what about the fact that Eddy felt better after his sweaty hangover hike? "That probably had to do with getting some fresh air and the endorphins exercise produces," says Dr. Vreeman. In other words, the only detoxifying happening was on Eddy's toxic attitude.
What's the best wood for making a paddle?
That depends on the type of paddle, says Chris Raab, owner of Tuktu Paddles in Oceanville, New Jersey. Raab specializes in both Greenland-style kayak paddles and in canoe paddles, which have very different requirements. "In paddle-making," he says, "everything is a tradeoff between weight, durability and rigidity." Greenland paddles contain a lot of wood, so he looks for less dense species like western red cedar, Sitka spruce, or Atlantic white cedar—so the paddle won't end up too heavy. However, Raab often laminates denser wood like walnut, cherry, or maple onto the paddle ends to protect those spots from wear and tear. As for canoe paddles, because they have a thinner profile, and weight is less of a concern, Raab prefers to make the entire paddle from those harder, durable woods. His favorite overall? Alaskan yellow cedar, a medium-density wood with a lot of natural rot-resistance that "is really nice to carve." The problem is that it's pretty rare, grows very slowly, and has to cross the continent to get to his shop in New Jersey, so it "isn't the most sustainable, from an environmental perspective."
What's on Eddy's bucket list?
Eddy's life list is as long as the Grand Portage, of course, but there are three worth mentioning. First is Eddy's desire to paddle the length of Superior's north shore with a team in a 36-foot Montreal Canoe. The problem: finding at least a half-dozen people who can take the whole summer off and don't currently have restraining orders against Eddy. The second is his quest to ride a moose. The technique: 1) find a moose that is swimming across a lake; 2) paddle alongside; 3) jump upon its back and hold onto the fur, mainly floating so as not to sink the beast; 4) slip off well before the moose reaches shore to avoid being stomped. Moose proved elusive last summer, however, so that will have to wait. The item Eddy has the best chance of achieving soon is to win the Pemmican Cookoff Grand Prize at the upcoming mid-winter Rendezvous. Last year, Eddy's yarrow blueberry squirrel pemmican won first place in the Rodent Class, but was disqualified because, apparently, MSG is not a legal ingredient.