Somebody Has To Say It All


I was once told that trying to explain canoe trip to people was like trying to cut vegetables with a screwdriver. Here is my attempt.

Yesterday sucked. And it was awesome.

I had been paddling on the North Saskatchewan River for three days, each day an 8 hour paddle. I had put in at Drayton Valley, and here I was, just outside of Edmonton and stupefied.

It didn’t take me this long last time, what was going on? Was I just getting old? Was my stroke weak? Was there a flaw in my technique? The last time I did this paddle, I was pulling into a campsite after about 5 hours of paddling and relaxing.

Then it hit me. I screwed up big time.

Drayton Valley to Fort Sask (my destination) is 169 kms by car. But by river…the North Sask is a meandering fucker. Back and forth like a drunken balloon, I would say that distance is closer to 220kms.

Also, the two other times I did the run, it was a 5 day trip from Drayton Valley to Edmonton, the other was a four day Genesee Lake to Fort Sask trip.

I was doing a 6 day trip in 4 days.

This third day, this sucky/awesome day, would end up being a 12 hour paddle. The longest I’ve ever paddled in a day. There was a moment, around 8 after the sun had set and I couldn’t see what was in the water ahead of me. I was concerned. I pulled up onto the closest beach I could find. It was a shore in the very East of Edmonton. As I crawled out of my boat, tired and emotionally flat, a group of hikers popped out of the woods. I jokingly asked them what year it was. They laughed and said 2025. Then, they gave me a beer. We hung out for a couple hours. I got to play with their dogs. Then they were gone. Serendipitous and fortuitous. A magic end to day that tested me.

I wish that I could explain to my family the emotional wealth that I had come upon on this trip. I wish I could share with them what I felt and learned about myself and the world. I wish I could connect with them, mind to mind. I want to sit with them and tell stories. I want to share. To debrief. But hey…vegetables and a screwdriver.

Anyway, I’m embarrassed. I paid for it. But here is a tidbit of wonders.

New experiences:

  • Paddling through a nude beach.
  • A nude dude panhandling gold.
  • Thousands of Canadian Geese migrating at the same time (a cacophonous calamity).
  • A murder of crows so big they shaded the sun.
  • An alien body being pulled out of the river (turned out to be Devon emergency services performing a practise rescue simulation).
  • Fog so dense that I lost my bearings.
  • Coyotes howl/arguing from both sides of the river while I slept on an Island.
  • A very large tree crushed against a larger tree, in the middle of the river, with a dead fox on them.
  • Blisters on blisters.
  • A shopping cart, wrapped in an old dingy, wrapped in old ropes, with a hawk sitting on it.


One bridge, two bridge, old bridge, new bridge.


Island camping, I started a fire in the dark to heat some food. Woke up in the morning to this old fire. The island was a tinderbox of detritus. All those marks, firefighter boots.
Just pretty.
The murder shed (thanks Reg Brown).
Another pretty.

Published by: thetrentwilkie

Trent Wilkie is a husband/father/writer/journalist/performer in Edmonton. Trent has written for CBC Radio, Fangoria Magazine, Edmonton Sun, Exclaim Magazine, Fort Sask Record, Theatre Network, The Edmonton Fringe, and is currently pouring his heart and soul into his award-winning blog The UnDad. As well, Trent has also been a wilderness canoe guide for over 10 years which he now considers therapy. Trent is also a member of Mostly Water Theatre, a sketch comedy troupe and has performed in a bevy of Edmonton International Fringe Festivals to varying degrees of success. When taking time off from trying not to be boring, Trent likes to relax while watching horror movies and trying to write the perfect three chord song

Categories Edmonton, North Saskatchewan River, OtherTags, , , , 2 Comments

2 thoughts on “Somebody Has To Say It All”

  1. thanks for this, trent.
    this made me feel so many things. i made so many different facial expressions as i read this… i’m feeling pretty happy right now ❤

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