We are writing from the banks Saskatchewan river, shortly before it becomes a series of dammed (m, not n – but I reserve the right to amend this at a later date) lakes. Several pounds heavier than last time we wrote and full of good memories. And short ribs.
We had been pushing ourselves to make it to Prince Albert (no, seriously) to coincide with some friends and family who all happened to be there this week. Despite not having much of a clue what we were capable of and what the river and weather might have in store, Mike’s prediction that we could be there this weekend was spot on.
As with so many of you, Julie had been following the blog and enjoying the stalkerish appeal of the map, but went a step further on Sunday and followed every location update so that she and her dad were on the prom in time to wave us into PA. the boat was duly loaded onto a 20ft trailer and towed back to the family farm.
We’d been told Saskatchewan was flat, so we were thinking Cambridgeshire, but up until that point it had mostly been gentle hills rolling down to the river bank – we were aware of a big sky but also could see a little way into the farmland and oil land beyond. Until we got to the Mickelsons farm. Then we saw flat! The saying goes you can lose your dog out walking and still see it for two weeks afterwards…
The Mickelsons welcomed us, smelly and unwashed, into their home. What followed was 2 days of eating, drinking, resupplying, fishing and generally celebrating. Julie and Nick were visiting with their tiny daughter Ciciely, Jess and Jake were over with my nephews, the family had just finished seeding, and we had paddled 1100km to get there which felt like quite something.
We (well, Mike) got given some serious, but possibly not undeserved, grief for not having caught a fish yet. The family seem to have a bit of a knack for it and undertook to fix the problem. Not long into the first excursion I hooked a pretty huge Pike. By day two we had enough for a fish fry for the whole clan. It was getting fairly late in the day and still mike hadn’t caught anything (to be honest I’m not sure we would or could have gone back to the farm at that point) when he hooked a big Walleye. Phew.
Some beneficial headwinds allowed us 2 full days of rest but we couldn’t think of anymore excuses so were packed off this morning. Not before we’d been given a huge portion of Jake’s short ribs, a bottle of wine and a bundle of foraged morel mushrooms for dinner tonight…
We were met at the boat launch in PA by Ron, president of Fresh Air Experience who we had met the previous day when we were in his outdoor store (!). He’d brought some bent shaft carbon paddles for us to try out. Anyone who knows Mike knows the outcome of this…
Soon enough we were packed up and ready to go. Queue a drive-by delivery of buttered leeks from Jess and Jake (who had a flight to catch) to go with the ribs.
And so it happens that exactly 3 weeks after we set out on the North Saskatchewan river, and almost 1200km from the start, we have arrived at the end of the North Saskatchewan river. It saved the best til last – today’s section was fast and bumpy and more challenging than anything higher up. And it delivered us to the forks where we have yet another stunning camp site. And ribs, leeks, morels and wine.
There are fish in the river, despite Mike thinking otherwise.
They taste good!
The Mickelsons know how to catch them.
Thanks go to:
Nick, Julie, Cicely and Hank.
The Mickelson Clan: Phyllis and Earl; Eric, Curtis, Jackie, Jodie, Emma, Tyler, Elizabeth and Conner.
Jess, Jake, Flynn and Rufus.
We left heavier!
Ron Horn – who helped redress the balance!