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