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.
- 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.