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Photo courtesy of Daniel Alvarez.

Alvarez returns to sea (and lake)

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outdoors Two Harbors,Minnesota 55616 http://www.twoharborsmn.com/sites/default/files/styles/square_300/public/fieldimages/35/1205/a500px.jpg?itok=m65EXpik
Lake County News Chronicle
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Alvarez returns to sea (and lake)
Two Harbors Minnesota 109 Waterfront Dr. 55616

In March, the Lake County News-Chronicle reported that Daniel Alvarez, the Florida man who paddled from the Northwest Angle--the northernmost point in Minnesota and the lower 48 states -had reached his destination in Key West. In all, he paddled his 17-foot kayak over 4,000 miles.

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The first leg of his journey was spent working his way through the BWCAW, finally traversing the Grand Portage to Lake Superior. Alvarez then headed for Isle Royale where he met a trio of Two Harborites--Ken and Keith Larson and Gunnar Johnson--who invited him to visit the North Shore community before continuing on his way. He did, but after a few days in the area he was off again, ultimately paddling the length of the Mississippi River to the Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic and on to the Keys.

Alvarez spent months alone and his blog entries indicated that there were times when exhaustion, cold, isolation and hunger were his companions. He seemed relieved to make it to Florida, his home, but admitted that he wasn't sure what he would do once he completed his trip. Since then, he seems to have decided. He's heading back -again by kayak.

"I got it into my head after a while, but I put (the decision) off until I got to Key West," he said in an interview from the coast of Georgia, already many miles into his return trip. Once in the Keys, he spent some time on the island famous for its lawless past, numerous watering holes, the residence of Earnest Hemingway and a large population of six-toed cats. As he deliberated he wrote:

"I feel the coin in my pocket. I think it's heavy for a penny. This can be the end. No one would ever know if I quit now. Except me. I look at the coin in my hand. I'm scared. Let fate decide. Heads or tails. Call it in the air.

I watch it turn, spinning copper and light against the dark sky...The coin arcs down, still spinning, flashing copper, yes, no, yes, no, yes, no, until it falls into the sea.

Adventure is not fate. It is a decision. There will always be a thousand reasons not to go, but you have to leap."

Alvarez said he had not completely mapped his route, but he has a general idea and he has some time to consider his options.

Last month Alvarez took a brief break from paddling and returned to Minnesota to give a presentation at Midwest Mountaineering's Spring Expo in Minneapolis. He has since returned to his kayak, planning to make another appearance in northern Minnesota in six months, during the final leg of his trip.

"My plan is to get back to the Northwest Angle--up the east coast to New York to the Hudson and go from there," he said, although he's aware that it will be a race against the whims of Mother Nature.

"It's going to be tight because, as you know, it gets cold up there," he said," worst case, I don't make it (to the Angle) and that's okay, too, but the world is full of so many great places, so I thought if I can do it, I will."

Watch the Lake County News-Chronicle for updates on the second leg of Alvarez' journey. Follow his progress on predictablylost.com

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Tammy Francois
(218) 834-2141
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