- Average night-time temperature = 2C (34F)
- # paddles broken = 1
- # hot wheels cars lost in the river = 1
- # night-time visitors = 2: 1 cow moose and an obnoxious beaver taunting Taq. He is tied to the tent each night so he doesn’t wander from his job as protector. In his enthusiasm for the beaver’s taunts, he ripped the corner of the tent. It was cold enough for me to consider the value of a beaverskin hat, but Jude was sleeping and we didn’t think he’d deal with a shotgun blast during the night very well.
- # of calm days (no wind) = 2 (out of 16)
The Saskatchewan River is lined by sandy, clay banks. It has the unique ability to coat every single thing you own in a matter of minutes. Over the past couple of weeks, we were able to watch the woods transition from barren branches and icebergs to grassy banks and bright green leaves in bloom.
The wildlife along the river is amazing! We saw 2 elk on the Old Channel of the river, the industrious beaver was at work on every bank, and eagles watched us pass by from their large stick nests high up in the trees.
A cow moose swam over to our camp in the middle of the night. Fortunately, she didn’t stay long. If you asked Taq, his favourite would be the beaver, hands down. Oh, if only one would just get close enough…
We have tethered a Jude-sized paddle to the canoe since last season in hopes that he would be inspired to help make some miles. This season he is truly becoming a little paddler. You can see from the above pictures. In the middle one, he is standing in classic cold weather paddling style – hands tucked into his life jacket to keep warm.
- For those who think Taq is beautiful, be thankful his photos are not scratch-and-sniff. In the photo above he is rubbing his head (and later his body) in a fresh pile of otter poo. The smell was revolting – even more so for my pregnant senses.
We saw a Sasquatch!
We’ve been told that Manitoba has the most credible Sasquatch sightings in Canada. In fact, when we pulled into a boat launch at The Pas, MB, a man hopped out of his truck and promptly informed us that we should keep a close eye out for them when we’re out there. Good thing I had my camera ready…
Route Change: All part of the adventure of exploring Canada!
For the majority of cross-Canada paddlers, Lake Winnipeg is one of the most challenging sections. It is a huge shallow lake with incessant prairie winds. It takes most cross-country paddlers 3-4 weeks to complete. Those paddlers travel without toddlers: and being a parent means being responsible for our precious cargo.
Between May 9 and 25, we had the equivalent of two calm days. When we reached the delta extending into Cedar Lake we faced a 4 km crossing. Our attempt to cross was thwarted early on by whitecaps in the distance. Five days passed without so much as an hour of calm. We came to the realization that the 600 km of Lake Winnipeg could take us months…we needed an alternative.
In 2008, we paddled the South Saskatchewan River. North of Swift Current, we travelled Lake Diefenbaker. We found our alternative at it’s south end. By portaging the dam which diverts water from the Qu’appelle River drainage we’ll forge an unbroken route to Lake Winnipeg via the Qu’appelle, Assiniboine River, and Red Rivers.
Is there enough water in the upper reaches of the Qu’appelle River to float our 20 foot canoe? We sure hope so. If not, we’ve got wheels for the canoe, and we’ll tow it as far as necessary to find water deep enough! It’s going to be hot where we are going…if you see us on the river, or the road, we’d gladly accept cold drinks from passing motorists.
Once again, we had some help during our journey. A big thank you to:
- Bob MacDonald (Geoff’s Dad) for driving our Toyota to Winnipeg, MB.
- Dave and Sharra Hinton for storing our vehicle at their house, picking up Geoff at the bus station, and for packing him a lunch for the road.
- Don Fiddler and co. for picking me up on the side of a dirt road beside the Sask. R. after we realized that we had forgotten our rain jackets in the car. He arranged a ride for me into Nipawin, SK with Pat the Postman.
- Pat (sorry, didn’t get your last name) is the Postman for Cumberland House. Every weekday he drives to Nipawin to drop-off and pick up the mail. Fortunately for me, he was on his way into town when we popped up on the side of the road. While he did his work in town, I was able to find rain coats for the 3 of us in town. They served us well for the ample wind and rain we experienced on this leg of the trip.
- We knocked on Terry Hendrickson’s door in The Pas, MB, to ask him if we could store our canoe in his yard while we resupplied for the night. He immediately made us feel like a member of his family. He helped us unload, store our gear, arranged for accommodation, then gave us a tour of The Pas. He then handed us the keys to his truck and his cell phone. It was a very big help for us because it made our resupply errands (groceries, laundry, etc) a lot easier. While we enjoyed showers and restaurant food, he even repaired Geoff’s broken paddle and put together a fishing rod and kit for Jude! We are also grateful for the radio he gave us when we left. We listened to the local CJAR 1240 radio station for hours while we were windbound.
- While we were at the Opasquia Times newspaper for an interview, 4-year-old Asia Kryschuk befriended Jude. Her Grandfather, Joe, took us all to visit the brand new piglets at their farm outside of town. It was wonderful to see the two kids playing together and having fun. A great day!
- CJAR 1240 Arctic Radio station posted a few announcements of our trip during the afternoon programs. Everyone there was friendly and genuinely interested in our trip. We spent many hours listening to their programs and music while we were windbound.
- Thank you to the folks at the Opasquia Times for writing an article on our trip.
- We shared a campsite with Dallas Hay and Chris Alych. We enjoyed our brief conversation with them as they helped us load our canoe. We are very grateful they shared their cookies with Jude – he was thrilled!
- Ben Guerard pulled up the wind forecasts for us multiple times during our times waiting to cross Cedar Lake.
- We are grateful to Shannon King and Mike Nelson for looking after our house and renter while we are away. Peace of mind is priceless!
- Jim Smith and his crew drove their incredibly fast boat out into the Delta to bring us back to The Pas, MB, after we decided to change our route to avoid Cedar Lake and Lake Winnipeg, in favour of a previously overlookedf route in the south. Really nice guys, it was a pleasure meeting you.