With only two weeks or so to go I find myself having a permanent smile on my face. I wake up in the morning feeling excited and happy to face the day. Less and less my thoughts are of the preprations and checklists and more and more I am beginning to daydream, picutring myself paddling down the river with nothing but wilderness surrounding me. My stomach has been invaded by a a swarm of butterflies, they’ve taken up permanent home inside me. The anticipation is growing daily; after a year and half of planning soon the big day will be here.
This trip is going to be fantastic. Paddling over 5000 kilometres in 5 months with over 90 portages – that’s the adventure that we are about to embark on. I am ready to face the challenge, I am looking forward to this amazing experience – this is going to be epic. We’ve gone over our gear and have made the last minute purchases and have even received some pretty nice gifts, a couple of Helinox cots given to us by our son. We have wanted those for a long time, they are pretty pricey at $360 each – they will make a world of difference both for ease of set up (no blowing up mattresses every day) and for comfort – though we are early risers, maybe we’ll start sleeping in! We don’t have a set schedule, some days we will feel like paddling longer while other days bad weather will keep us on shore. Having the cots will make lounging that much better, it’ll be a good time to catch up on writing and editing. We know we’ll hit bad weather and when we do, we will relax at camp and take in our surroundings. This is a trip of a lifetime and we want to enjoy every minute of it.
We are very happy that our good friend Wade has agreed to join us on this voyage. We stopped in to see him while in Alberta and it didn’t take much conivincing to have him accompany us on this big adventure. He will bring his big yellow lab Misty along – she and Pompom are old friends. Years ago, Wade and Misty joined us down the Athasbasca for a two week trip – he in a canoe and we in kayaks. That’s one of my most memorable trips – now I am about to begin to make new memories.
I can’t wait to wake up on the beach in the fresh air and cook breakfast over the fire. We have so much delicious food prepared – I really love cooking outside at the campsite. We will be eating lots of fresh fish which will nicely compliment the homemade meals we have. On this trip, eating will be a treat day after day. We have coffee for breakfast and will be drinking lots of filtered water with the occasional ice tea. Our Katadyn water filter is exceptional. I have lots of ingredients to make bannock (including lots of dehydrated berries), we have a large supply of homemade jerky in four varities and we have fruit leathers to munch on when we want sweets. Making bannock will be a first for me, I’ve always wanted to make some, but never have. I’ve looked up a few pleasing recipes on the internet and am looking forward to experimenting in the camp kitchen.
While I cook the men will take down camp and prepare the canoes for the day, after we clean up the dishes, we’ll head for anotber day of exploring. There will be many firsts on this trip. I have always dreamed of having the opportunity to camp all summer long. For me, going home is always the hard part. Being out for five months is something I am really excited about. There will be so many new experiences, this summer is going to the best ever! I am very much looking forward to just being outside for a whole summer – I love being outside. I love being on the water.
I expect we will see lots of wildlife from the stealth of our canoes. The river attracts all kinds of birds and animals to it’s shores. Early morning and in the evening will be the best times to get glimpses, take photographs and shoot video. In the morning, the water is usually calm. As dawn breaks, the forest animals and birds come for a morning drink while some hunt for breakfast.
Once we get going I surely will have many interesting stories to share. I’ll be able to include photos of the trip and will undoubledly have some wild experiences to write about. It won’t be long now, only a ocuple of weeks and the big adventure will begin. From Rocky Mountain House Alberta to Lachine Quebec – crossing four provinces over the summer – experiencing Canada’s amazing wilderness from our canoes, I can’t think of a better way to spend the next five months.
Last night I went for a walk before turning in. I needed some fresh air, I needed to see the stars…
It was a beautiful night in Alberta – the temperature hovered around the freezing point. The night air was calm with only the slightest breeze, the fresh cool air felt wonderful on my cheeks. I felt reinvigorated by the gentle breeze. The stars twinkled in the dark sky, not as brightly as back home but there they were sharing the night with a bright white crescent moon.
I am not used to being in a city. I walked the streets of the neighbourhood taking in my surroundings. It was ten o’clock, most people were still up – I saw many large screen tvs illuminating people’s living rooms. Behind me the sound of cars driving to and fro filled my ears. To the west of city, the constant whiz of the highway traffic was relentless. I wondered where all these people were going at this late hour. Many were off to work I’m sure for night shift duty. I missed my quiet wilderness home, I missed the peace and tranquility of the country life.
I didn’t miss any of this city life, I grew up in Canada’s capital. With modern conveniences come modern price tags. My simple and mostly uncomplicated life demands more physical effort sometimes, but I like that. I like growing my own food, I like cutting firewood and I like staying active – I would rather work at daily chores than driving to work everyday. I don’t miss the rat race; I am glad I left it behind.
I pushed the busyness of the city out of my mind – my thoughts turned to the near future. I longed to be on the river, I longed to start our cross Canada paddling journey. I need it. I need to get out there and immerse myself in wilderness, it’s where I feel the most alive. Spending time in nature heals me – it recharges my battery better than anything else I can think of. When I lose myself, when life gets complicated – I retreat to the woods, I jump in my canoe and I paddle my stress away. When I need to ground myself – I turn to nature.
It won’t be long now, a few weeks – a month at the most – and we will be on our way. It won’t be an easy journey – paddling 5000 kilometres with over 90 portages is a daunting task to say the least. I expect to encounter all kinds of weather – all kinds of animals and all kinds of surprises. I also expect I’ll have the time of my life!
Today the sun is shining, we will reach a high of 7 degrees Celcius and by Friday they are calling for a balmy 15 degrees. It’ll be hard to wait for the river to completely thaw, I’m like a child waiting for Disneyland to open its gates (even though I’ve never been there). Until then, I will continue to make the final preparations – I will continue to wait for the river to be ready for me. Every night when I fall asleep, I hear it calling to me: Come, come paddle my beauty, come see what I have to show you…
As you may have already heard – we are the Canadian Voyageurs and we are about to go on an epic journey! We are crossing Canada by canoe this summer AND we are taking the #mywildCanada chat on the road…uh the river….with us. This is something that has never been done before.
From now on we will have to reduce the number of chats we hold. We will put the Sunday chats on hold until we come back in the fall (most of you will be outdoors on weekends anyways) – and once we hit the water, we will be holding random #mywildCanada chats throughout the summer. We will try and keep our Wednesday 2 pm (eastern time) chat going as long as we can and whenever possible will use that time frame while on our trip. We should be able to host the Wednesday chats until we leave in late April or start of May – wilderness excursions always depend on conditions – we are going with the flow….
The trip itself is set to begin in May – so until then you should be able to find us Twitter at our usual Wednesday time slot. We have some big chats coming in April – the Nature Conservancy of Canada is coming back to guest host again – the penciled in date (yet to be confirmed) is for April 12th – mark this on your calendar (in pencil for now!) because you don’t want to miss this one.
We welcome anyone who wants to guest host a #mywildCanada during the spring or summer (at the usual time – Wednesdays 2pm EST) to come on board to do so. Hosting is a great way to meet like minded people and gain new followers – it’s also the most fun you can have on Twitter! Ask anyone who has hosted before. Anyone – from anywhere – is welcome to host. We have the most wonderful people join in – we share – we learn – we laugh.
If hosting interests you – please contact us by email: celinegerry at gmail.com or send us a private message on Twitter – @CanadianVoyage is our handle.
Make sure you all follow us on Facebook: Canadian Voyageurs 2015 – there you will be able to be a fly on the wall – you can follow our every stroke as we paddle across this great country of ours. Click on the “Follow us on Mapshare” tab at the top of the page.
For more information about the trip please visit our website – we are proud to support the Nature Conservancy of Canada – we are helping them in their fund raising efforts by bring attention to their very worthwhile cause!