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.

2 Replies to “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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