Paddler will speak about Arctic canoe trip

SARANAC LAKE – Most people have never been to the Arctic Circle, let alone paddled there.

But you can count Lake Clear resident Bob Dedrick as one of those few.

Dedrick, 80, paddled about 300 miles on the Coppermine River in the Northwest Territories from Point Lake to Coronation Gulf in the Arctic Ocean during two weeks in July 1974. The last stretch of the trip was within the Arctic Circle.

On Sunday, Dedrick plans to share those experiences with a slideshow and talk during the monthly meeting of the North Woods chapter of the Adirondack Mountain Club. The presentation will take place at 6:30 p.m. Sunday in the Great Hall of The Presbyterian Church in Saranac Lake. The event is free and open to the public.

Dedrick is a retired biomedical engineer with the National Institutes of Health in Maryland. He now lives full time with his wife Marion just outside the St. Regis Canoe Area, which he has spent many days exploring.

Dedrick said that when he did the Coppermine trip in 1974, his group was one of four parties that paddled that stretch of river that year. The area is too remote for most paddlers and it passes through tundra that is inhabited by moose, grizzly bears, Arctic char, lake trout and wolves.

“It was a marvelous river in that sense because of the 300 miles, most of it was either open water or like lakes … then as you got into the river, it ran downhill,” Dedrick said. “The St. Regis Canoe Area, which we think is a big deal, would fit into this (area) about 100 times.”

There were four men in his group who paddled in two tandem aluminum canoes.

The leaders were Guy Honold, who was married to Dedrick’s cousin, and Bob Dannert. Another man, Neil Van Busch, paddled in the bow of Dedrick’s canoe.

“I didn’t have that much to do,” Dedrick said. “They organized the whole trip. They just needed a fourth, so they asked me if I could join them.”

During the trip, Dedrick had some great experiences, and one really tragic one as well. His cousin-in-law Honold drowned toward the end of the trip. Honold and Dannert were attempting to get through some difficult rapids when they were thrown from the canoe after hitting some serious waves.

Dannert was able to swim to shore while Honold was never seen again.

Dedrick said that he decided to give a presentation about the trip after digging up some old photos of the journey that he gave to Honold’s family.