Exactly one month and two provinces since take-off, we are happy to share some recent thoughts.
After four coffeeless university years of late nights and early mornings, my lifelong stand against Mr. Horton has begun to break down. It started with an innocent sip. We were welcomed in Nipawin by an old friend of the Ervine’s named Brent. He brought us fruits and high fives and in the morning he dropped off a pair of thermoses that may have very well changed my life.
I saw the rest of the team get excited and thought – Marc, my dear friend, stop being such a stubbornsman and enjoy a cup with your friends – So I sipped. YEAH, I DID IT AND I’D DO IT AGAIN! It was what the connoisseurs refer to as a ‘double double’. I think its because it tastes twice as good.
Anyway, a couple days later coffee reared its ugly head yet again. James saw me playing out the rest of my life in my head and told me to relax and have a cup. Well now I’m four mugs deep and I’m trying to figure out which direction I want to go with the rest of my life’s mornings.
Well that’s where my heads at!
Oh, For Goodnesslakes!
I’m fond of a good pond and understand all of the commotion in the ocean. I see what’s to see in the sea and my regard for rivers is raging rapidly. However, most of all, I like lakes. Love, if not for a personal and constant craze for phonetic fulfillment, perhaps the more suitable declaration.
With the majority of the North Saskatchewan River in our wake, day 21 found PACT entering our first, Tobin Lake, north of Nipawin, Saskatchewan. Spending my childhood on Miller Lake at the family cottage, countless evenings watching the sun sink below Moira Lake at Camp Quin-Mo-Lac and having spent the past five summer seasons paddling the waterways of Algonquin Park, calling the sunny shore of South Tea Lake my home, I have developed quite an admiration for the tranquility and power of lakes, and a passion for being in, on and around them.
As we entered Tobin Lake, there was a communal a sigh of familiarity and bliss – a canoe PACTed of Lake Likers. Our journey across this summer will take us through several lakes, including what will perhaps be our most challenging phases of the trip- Lakes Winnipeg and Superior. As we prepare for paddling these vast puddles, we will not neglect their power and the potential vulnerability we face while traveling, yet I am overjoyed to soon be upon these spectacles and canoe, swim and reflect in (and on) some of the largest lakes in the world.
A lake is the landscape's most beautiful and expressive feature. It is earth's eye; looking into which the beholder measures the depth of his own nature.
-Henry David Thoreau
For Goodness…the answer is lakes.
The Fine Art of Sleep Paddling
Here’s an interesting lesson the trip has taught us so far: we’ve all discovered first-hand that it’s possible to fall asleep while paddling.
It seems obvious, I know. We spend long days on the water performing a tiring and repetitive action while the hot sun beats down relentlessly on our heads. Of course we’re going to fall asleep.
But here’s the curious part. Your brain falls asleep but your arms just keep on paddling. We see it every day. One of the crew’s head starts nodding forward, lower and lower, until eventually they’re snoozing contently in the bow seat. But their arms keep going, not missing a beat, keeping perfect time with the rest of the paddlers like a tireless piston in a hardworking engine.
Apparently we don’t even need to be conscience anymore to propel the boat forward. If we keep this up me might just wake up in Montreal feeling refreshed but wondering what happened.
Perhaps this is a sign we’ve finally achieved paddling zen; a oneness with our canoe and our spirit, allowing us to move forward on a higher plane of understanding while transcending the physical limitations of our earthly bodies.
Or maybe we’re just really, really tired from all this canoeing.
The bugs are back in town!
The end of the day was approaching quickly, and we had spotted a nice flat area on the right side of the river. It was perfect real estate for the night; a beach for a campfire, flat grassy patches for tents, and woods for exploring. Little did we know that we would be sharing this site with one of nature smallest and peskiest creature…THE MOSQUITO (gasp and perhaps some Jaw’s theme music would be fitting). It was not just one, but thousands of mosquitos that were kind enough to welcome us to the Saskatchewan delta, their needles sharpened and ready to prod and poke every inch of our bodies and persistent in their pursuit of fresh food, and they have no limits as to where they should or should not take a nibble.
We unloaded the boats and set up camp as if it were any other night. The fire was ready and the water was boiling, but dinner prep was interrupted by a swarm of the mosquitos. Staying still was out of the question. Each of us became silent and restless.
Dinner resulted with all of us eating burritos in a 3-person tent and our only obstacles being how to get seconds without being attacked by more mosquitos and if at all possible without getting out of the tent. We had a flawless system, a wonderful dinner, and a short break from the battle between the mosquitos and us.
We may not be looking forward to the countless nights of sharing dinner with the mosquitos and black flies, but we ARE looking forward to the future challenges and beautiful surprises that are in store for us as we continue to paddle across Canada!!!
With all my love,
A Corner of Canada
On Day 20, we camped in the Wapiti Valley, near the village of Gronlid. We were ahead of our schedule and this was our first resupply point. Our resupply contact was an old friend and neighbor of mine, Nick Trudeau.
Nick and I grew up outside of the village of Tyrone in rural southern Ontario. The last time I saw Nick was four years ago in Wolfville, Nova Scotia.
Nick was really excited to be a part of our trip. He was even more excited to play host in his adapted Saskatchewan. He arrived with his girlfriend Dorothy, our food and a warm Saskatchewan welcome. They pitched a tent and spent the night camping with us. It was great to catch up with Nick and tell old stories again.
Nick is a man who loves life. He has been in Saskatchewan for the last four years on and off, but always returns. He is just making the move from Gronlid to Saskatoon.
"I can't quite put a finger on why, but I keep coming back here."
He thinks it might be the people, the land, the open space, the freedom.
"Oh yeah, and sunsets like that." He said as he nodded to a brilliant pink and orange sunset that spanned the entire horizon.
From our experience in Saskatchewan, it is probably a mix of all these reasons. As far as I can tell, the whole of Saskatchewan is filled with Tyrones. The rural lifestyle, a pace demanded by the weather, and community support. It has been a welcoming and beautiful province, and I can see why Nick keeps coming back.
Whether it is the farmland hamlets of Ontario, the tidal towns of Nova Scotia, or the dusty villages of the prairies. We all find our corner of Canada to call home and Nick has found his in Saskatchewan.
Enjoy our country,
I LOVE FAMILY
So I think that everyone has a unique way to view their own family, and that idea develops as one grows up. I have no idea if that’s actually true, but it seems to have been the case for me…so I’m going to go with it. This adventure across Canada has already allowed me to meet a great deal of amazing people, but I have been blessed to reconnect with an incredible side of my family. Being in Cumberland House was an amazing opportunity to get to know the people who make up a unique portion of my family tree. I could go on for days about each of the individuals who have opened their arms and hearts to make me feel welcome and comfortable in a community I knew little about. I didn’t think my perception about family could be influenced so drastically at this time in my life, but I am so thankful that it has. Cumberland House has definitely been the highlight of my journey - I will never forget the time we spent here and the connections I have made.
Thank you to everyone in Cumberland House who has made this part of our trip truly special. You are all incredible people!