- # of bridges paddled = 63
- # weir/dam’s portaged = 5
- # of coyotes taunting Taq at night = too many!
- # of ticks picked off Taq = 400 +
Qu’Appelle River, SK
The Qu’Appelle River flows 725 km from Lake Diefenbaker to the Assiniboine River. The first picture is the outflow structure at the Qu’Appelle Dam at the very start of the river. We needn’t have worried about there being enough water, as this precious river provides drinking water to a great deal of Southern Saskatchewan (including Moose Jaw and Regina.)
The Qu’Appelle River is one of Saskatchewan’s best kept paddling secrets. In the 680 km that we have paddled so far, we have passed through many changing landscapes: grassy banks, gradual to steep clay banks, crops, and forest. Depending on the geography, the height of the banks varies from a few feet to 30+ feet high. The wind was a constant companion, sometimes blowing so hard that the canoe stopped in one place (despite the current and our paddling!) The river winds it’s way across southern Saskatchewan sometimes folding back on itself (called oxbows) such that we can see the river only 10 feet across the bank.
We think the first picture is a Short-eared owl? Anyone know for sure? The second is a mink, then baby raccoons, and finally a crayfish.
If your friends jumped off a bridge in Tantallon, SK…would you? Of course Geoff did!
We stopped in Tantallon, SK and tied up our canoe under this concrete bridge built in 1930 to enjoy air conditioning, dinner, and cold drinks at the local watering hole. When we returned, there seemed to be a party going on – even the police were there! It turns out that some local kids had decided to cool off by jumping into the river from the top of the arch over the bridge, and the police had stopped by to ensure the water was deep enough for it to be safe. Geoff eagerly stripped off his shirt to join them (first picture) as Jude, Taq, and I cheered from the bridge. We took before and after pictures of the local kids jumping in from upstream of the bridge. What a blast!
Pics of our hitchhikers…
We can’t have a newsletter without a few pictures of our adorable hitchhikers – Jude and Taq.
“Rescue” on Mission Lake, SK
The headline sounds a lot more heroic than it really was. We came across a couple working their way to shore while holding onto a single lifejacket. Their canoe had capsized while they were fishing in the middle of the lake. We towed them to shore with the stern rope and then retrieved some miscellaneous items we could see floating around: tackle box, paddles, shoes, bait container, and snacks. We looked around for the canoe, but never found it. Connie and Clint called their friends to pick them up on our cell phone and it all ended well.
The last week of June has been full of severe thunderstorm warnings, tornado warnings, and wind warnings on the prairies. We felt the effects on the river through strong winds, but we had somehow managed to steer clear of the thunderstorms until the last night before we were meeting Dave to resupply. We set up the tent and secured the canoe in time for the heavens to open in the biggest storm we’ve ever camped in. It started with bright flashes of lightening in quick succession, then rolling thunder. Jude fell asleep before the real storm hit us. At one point a wind gust hit the tent with such force that the roof of the tent was suddenly inches from our noses lying down. Geoff and I instinctively extended our legs to hold the tent up. Rain poured in through the side vents and soaked the bottom of the tent. Jude slept on.
Taq, however, was unimpressed. As is his usual practice in hot weather, he dug a big hole to lie in under the vestibule. Instead of functioning to cool him off, it acted like a little bathtub for him. He sat in the pool of water during the storm with his ears stuck out to the sides looking like he’d rather be anywhere else in the world. An hour later when the worst of the storm had passed, he left the vestibule to sleep outside.
Everything faired well in the storm except for our tent poles. Two of them are bent, but still functional.
Where are we? Where do we go from here?
We have pulled out about 28.5 km from the Saskatchewan-Manitoba border to resupply and meet our friends from Germany who will be paddling with us over the next 3 weeks. We will paddle with them to St. Lazare, MB, where the Qu’Appelle River joins the Assiniboine River. We will get as close to Winnipeg as possible. How far depends on the winds and the current.
- Pak & Allyson Wong (Pam’s parents) continue to graciously open their home to us – we take over their computer, kitchen, and most of the basement while we reorganize and pack. Thank you also for dropping us off at the Qu’Appelle Dam, we really appreciate all of the time you take to drive us around!
- We enjoyed a short visit to Wade, Marlene, and Eric Forbes farm near Moose Jaw, SK. Jude was thrilled to drink a cold glass of peach juice on such a hot day.
- Sometimes you meet some people and you feel as though you’ve been friends for years – that is how we felt when we met Marilyn and Lyle Wilson and Mauricio, Kim, and Emmet Jimenez at Buffalo Pound Lake, SK. Marilyn drove me to the gate to find a campsite, to the store to get some treats. We then joined everyone at the their campsite for dinner. We were having so much fun – time flew by! Thank you very much to Mauricio and Kim for dinner in Lumsden as well. We’ll have to take the kids paddling together sometime!
- Irma and Andre Burgess were friendly campground neighbours who allowed Jude to “drive” their truck. Jude was thrilled at the chance.
- Andrea Reimer kept Jude entertained at the Buffalo Pound Dam by showing him all of the pike she was catching.
- Jason Szarkozicz, Doujana Raybaya, Scott & Shannon Polowik, and Allan Lazarenko helped Geoff finish off the portage around Buffalo Pound Lake Dam. The had given us a great tip about where to look for turtles below the dam…we saw 2!
- Alyssa Lawford of Lumsden, SK very kindly let us wash our clothes at her house after we discovered that the town didn’t have a laundromat. We had a nice chat while her son, Kingston, and Jude played in the yard. We are also incredibly grateful to her for mailing Geoff’s wallet back to him. It was nice and clean, since it had gone through the wash and somehow landed in her daughter’s bag in the laundry room. We can’t thank you enough for finding it!
- Larry Trask drove out from Regina to have lunch with us. We had a great time – so much so that Jude didn’t want to leave his van. Larry drove him around the campground for one more loop before he would reluctantly exit the van.
- We bumped into Merv Woods and Tiera MacLeod at the Lumsden campground right before we were leaving. We talked canoeing for a while and soaked up some of their info. about the area. It is always great to meet fellow paddlers.
- Eldon and Katy of Cravenworld Campground helped us ferry our gear to our campsite. It saved us at least an hour of hauling, plus it enabled us to reach the Craven restaurant before closing.
- Stephanie Robertson and Nathalie Brunet were part of a 6 person team who paddled from Vancouver, BC to St. John’s, NB in one season! They met us at Echo Valley Provincial Park where they brought us all kinds of delicious goodies – truck for Jude, chocolate for me, and cold beer for Geoff. On top of all of that, they brought dinner in a crock-pot and even fixed the handle on my paddle! The hours passed too quickly while we exchanged stories. They are the first cross-Canada paddlers we’ve met in person. It was a lot of fun.
- We arrived at Fort Qu’Appelle soaking wet and looking for a place to tie up the canoe to get some groceries in town. Leann Kowalchuk gave us directions and Mike Sali owned the dock we tied up to for the afternoon.
- We decided to take a rest day in Fort Qu’Appelle and dry out. There was only one room left in town (busy, busy area) and they didn’t take dogs. Ron and Wendy Froese of Fort Qu’Appelle Pottery recommended we call the nice folks at Braeburn Kennels. They solved our additional problem of where to stash the canoe by offering to store our gear in their yard near the river – even helping us load up when we headed out. We are very grateful for the opportunity to dry out and rest up.
- George and Linda Ferguson of Braeburn Kennels graciously accepted Taq – they even gave us all a ride back to our canoe and helped us load up our gear.
- James Wallis of Fort Qu’Appelle gave Jude and I a ride to the Inn while Geoff walked Taq to the Kennel.
- Linda of the Fort Times met us at the river before we left. Thank you for the cute picture of Jude in the canoe.
- A big thanks to Terry Hendrickson of The Pas for giving us the radio. It has been our constant companion on this river – keeps us in touch with news, weather, and some tunes to get stuck in our head.
- Once again we owe Dave and Sharra Hinton a huge thank you. They deserve a permanent spot (along with our parents) in this section – as they are an integral part of our support system on this trip. Dave picked us up from a bridge on the Qu’Appelle River near the Manitoba border. They have made us feel incredibly welcome in their home – nice soft beds (thanks Kendra and Paige), warm showers, delicious home-cooked meals, rides all over town, storing gear, and much more. Their hospitality is boundless! It has been wonderful to spend time with them along with Kendra, Paige, and Andrew.