Wednesday, October 18, 2006


Last weekend I paddled my new kayak down the river (the South Saskatchewan that runs through Saskatoon). I had originally planned to leave Saturday but the rain never quit so I postponed to Sunday. (Monday was a holiday here.)

I bought the kayak about a month ago. It was a little crazy to buy a kayak at the end of the season, but I got out in it quite a few times and it'll be ready for the spring. It's a yellow and white Evergreen Envy. Previously, all I had was an inflatable Sea Eagle, so it was quite a step up. I love the feeling of the kayak becoming part of me, like riding a bike. Not having to think about the mechanics, just moving freely and easily.

I started at the Clarkboro Ferry (west of Warmen) about 20 km downriver from Saskatoon since I'd previously paddled that far. I wasn't sure how far I'd get in two days. I ended up making it to Batoche (northwest of Rosthern), about 60 km down the river. Needless to say, I would never have made it that far if I hadn't had the current with me. Paddled about 7 hours each day with occasional breaks to stretch my legs.

The weather was pretty good but cool - only about 5 C (40 F) when I left. A bit of a rain storm Sunday afternoon but only for about 30 min. A huge luminous yellow moon rose over the river at sunset painting a gold streak of reflection down the river. The night was cold, heavy frost and ice in my water bag. I'd set up camp where I'd get the morning sun but there's not much warmth in it this time of year. Not like the powerful sun at altitude in the himalaya. The wind was stronger on Monday but luckily it was mostly behind me.

It would have been nice to go a week or two earlier before the leaves fell. It was a little bleak with the bare trees. But maybe it suited my mood. My mother had died a week before and this trip was my first chance to get away after six weeks hanging around the hospital. We had been close - talking on the phone every day and getting together several times a week. It was a trip she would have loved (not that she had been capable of it for quite a few years). She loved the outdoors, nature, animals, plants. But the adventure of life has its end like everything else.

I saw some wildlife along the way - great blue herons, bald eagles, mule deer, muskrats, and of course flocks of canada geese, ducks, and gulls heading south. Lots of signs of beaver but I didn't see any.

Batoche was a good spot to pull out - it was only a short way on a good path from the river to the parking lot. I called Shelley on the cell phone to come get me. Unfortunately, the gate was locked so we had to carry the kayak and my gear 2 km to the highway.

It was a good trip. There are farms and houses all along the river. But no one else was on the river so I had solitude if not wilderness.

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