Storms, sailing and Saskatchewan!

11 days out, 640km travelled

Haven’t fallen out…

Haven’t fallen in!

You might have noticed the dot didn’t move very much for a couple of days… some appalling weather forced us onto the bank for 24 hours to sit it out. Luckily for us we found a really friendly spot amongst some birch trees, most of which stayed upright in the storm. We made stew, played games and I finished reading the only book I brought with me… it also gave us the opportunity to improve our slinging and use the tarp.

It also gave me the chance for the wild equivalent of a gin in the bath: wine and feet in the washing up bowl! 

Note bear bangers on the floor in front of me…

After 2 nights in the same spot we both started to get itchy feet so in spite of some fairly punchy residual winds we packed up and set off. Luckily the wind was behind us which afforded us another opportunity: using the sail! I was just feeling entirely delighted with the free miles we were getting when a shout came from the back: ‘sail down sail down!!’ 3 bear cubs had tumbled out of the bush on the riverbank and were now playing by the water. Mum arrived shortly afterwards but they were all scared off by a (wait for it): beaver. Not exactly masters of stealth, the general beaver response to anything is Panic, Bellyflop, Tail-slap. I’m starting to think of them as the pheasants of the river… 

Our guide to the north Saskatchewan river said that paddlers could be caught unawares by some of the rapids higher up, the most significant ones supposedly the ‘blue rapids’. We were so unaware we’re still not entirely sure where they were… however, this stretch has had some slightly more interesting ‘surprise’ rapids (it’s supposed to be flat) which have been good fun amongst the lengthening meanders. 

We’ve been looking out for islands to camp on, on the basis there should be less ‘wildlife’ that might bother us in the night. Friday nights’ was particularly stunning – a sandy landing spot (this is the dream: otherwise river mud gets on everything), lots of driftwood, a huge flat clear area for boat and tent, and all set right in the middle of the river in a valley bowl at sunset. We remarked on how fast and deep the flow was on either side. We slept well! The morning was beautiful and we were delighted to see a bear make its way down to the water’s edge on the opposite bank; prepared to take photos when it looked like it might be fishing; then packed hastily when we saw it swim easily over to where we were, at which point it disturbed the family of moose who, it turned out, were also staying on the island…

Since then we’ve watched in amazement as 2 moose mosied across the channel in front of us to the island we were considering camping on, and were utterly gobsmacked when a mother and young moose swam the entire width of the river today (it’s a couple of hundred metres wide in places). 

Boat in the foreground, moose in the river! 

All in all, Alberta really exceeded expectations. It was utterly beautiful. But now we’ve arrived into our second province: Saskatchewan! 

Mike looking like Yosemite Sam (this comment didn’t go down all too well…)

What we’ve learnt: 

Beans take forever to cook.

Moose and bears can swim. Far. Islands not automatically safe! 

You can get Ardbeg in Canada!

Mike’s favourite bit of kit so far: gravity water filter

Cas’s favourite bits of kit: garmin and mooncup (more anon…)

Thanks this week to all the people who have messaged us – friends, family and complete strangers! It’s a real boost! 

Also to Tanya – for epic granola which has sustained us for almost 2 weeks – we want the recipe!! 

8 thoughts on “Storms, sailing and Saskatchewan!

  • What jolly adventures you are having. Gulp. Managing to catch any fish or scavenge food from the wild, for the wilds?
    You are piling on the miles. Great.
    Talk sometime. Stay well. And safe.

    • Hello! Nope, haven’t caught a thing! But neither have many of the anglers we’ve seen either. Good to get into Saskatchewan, though the river is getting slower and wider, and the wind is swinging to easterly….progress is about to be slowed…x

  • Moose love swimming 😀.Disney makes you think they aren’t that agile. A word of warning: watch for ticks in the grass. They are brutal this year. So excited to see you. Xxx

    • Who’s the moose in Disney?!

      Many tick warnings from folk – Mike absolutely hates them so we are rocking the trousers tucked into socks with sandals look. Oh yeah.

      Are you already home? We’re pretty excited to see you guys too!

      We are about 90 km from Prince Albert but winds looking pretty bad tomorrow so might slow us up a bit. Still reckon we’ll be there by Monday but should we come beyond PA to somewhere closer to yours? Is there an easy boat access anywhere?

      • Tomorrow we will meet you at the boat launch in Prince Albert. It’s on the north bank just past the train bridge and the traffic bridge. We will watch your GPS for updates. Call if you make land before we get there 1-306-749-2415 my cell 1-604-907-3544. Three words to put a little pep in your paddle. ICY COLD GIN. C U soon! I had a tick crawling on my neck today and have since developed what could be a lifelong “tick” of touching my neck every ten seconds to see if another one is there. Hugs, Jules

  • Hi both.

    Sounds such a super adventure so far. An ace read. Great work on not falling out (or in). Who is the Disney Moose?

    Emma xx

  • Amazing adventure guys! Still chuckling about the belly-flopping beavers. Another potential anti-bear strategy I suppose!

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