Well, yesterday afternoon at about 3:00 pm, I finished my paddle. I kayaked by myself all the way from Peace River, AB to Tompkin’s Landing (where the ferry crosses highway 697). I sprinted the last hour (about 11 km) because I saw a thunderstorm approaching and didn’t want to get caught in it. Here are a few stats for ya!
- – My GPS says 305 km paddled, but it was tracking while I walked around a bit too, so it’s probably about 295 km paddled or so.
- My GPS says I spent about 40 hrs 49 min moving and 20 hrs 28 min stopped. But of course it doesn’t account for time it’s turned off (at night, and at some stopovers).
- My gear weighed 86 lbs (39 kg).
- My kayak (a Prijon Kodiak) weighs 62 lbs (28 kg).
- I weigh 130 lbs (59 kg).
- Therefore, my arms and core body transported 278 lbs (126 kg) approx 300 km! (The current did help!) And I also lugged that 148 lb (67 kg) kayak up the shore repeatedly!
- I spent 6.5 days and 6 nights on the river.
- My average was 46 km per day. I aimed to do 50.
- I sat on shore through 2 thunderstorms, with nothing but a raincoat for protection! (That’s also why I didn’t make 50 km every day.)
- I used 1 bear-proof container, 6 dry bags, 1 mesh bag, and about 30 ziplock bags!
- Of the 6 times I camped in the wilderness, 4 times were completely away from people (more than 20 km). The 2nd night I camped at Sunny Valley with a farm and cottages nearby, and the last night I camped on a new friend’s yard (wonderful Metis man I just met). :)
- I did all this with no rifle, only a can of bear spray, but I didn’t see any bears. I don’t think I could have kept a gun dry anyway….
- I didn’t lose or break a single item I brought along. I think I only had to hunt for something once (I wasn’t sure where my hair elastic was).
- I had 1 bath, 2 “washcloth baths,” and washed my hair 3 times.
- I saw deer, moose, elk, wolf, various bird and beaver tracks. I saw actual deer, including some fawns, elk (one calf), beavers, bald eagles, other eagles/hawks. No wolves or bears.
- I heard all sorts of interesting sounds and birds that I wish I could identify! I’m pretty sure I heard an elk calling — it’s like a moo with a question mark!
I’ll post pics soon — I haven’t downloaded them all yet, as I suspect I might not have enough memory left on my computer to handle them all. I’ll have to clean it up a bit and delete some old stuff! There was some truly unbelievable, beautiful scenery… and I hope my much-zoomed photos of the elk cow and calf turned out! You can check out the progress map Darren made for me here.
Tidbits of wisdom from the water:
- You can’t check if something is dry with wet hands!
- Don’t make fun of a small cumulonimbus cloud, saying it’s “cute.”
- One stroke at a time, you get there.
- Every stroke counts. If you can make a little thing you do over and over again more effective, it adds up fast!
- Wind does not have to stop you — it may slow you down, but progress is progress.
- If you’re passing somewhere you may never be again, stop and explore!
Some other revelations:
One day, I was hunting through my clothes to find my a shirt to wear. I came across my long-sleeved purple striped shirt and said “yay! I love my purple striped shirt! I’ll wear that!” And I realized that I don’t say “yay!” about many of my clothes. So, I am getting rid of the ones that I don’t absolutely love.
I have way too much STUFF! I lived great for a whole week on 3 pairs of pants, 4 shirts, 2 pairs of undies, 1 set of PJ’s, and minimal other stuff. Why do I have all that stuff at home!?!?
I spent 2 whole days in very meditative paddling, partly because my shoulder was sore so I had to pay close attention to make sure I wouldn’t hurt it or pull a muscle. It was so enlivening! Now, I find I am doing everything more meditatively. In fact, even just walking around making camp was meditative in a way, because I had to watch every step, make sure I wouldn’t twist an ankle on a rock, or put something down in such a way that would allow it to fall over and roll into the water. Or thinking about where to put each and every thing my hand touched — because if I put it down in a bad place, it could get muddy, wrecked, lost, or simply be too far for when I needed to reach for it. So my every action became a meditation.
Initially, I had an attitude of independence and exploration. Later on, I had a feeling of harmony with nature (not independence or separation or being apart from nature) and discovery. In this sense, discovery is more “let’s see what’s out there” and exploration is more “let’s find stuff and claim territory” (more ego).
There are so many more things I learned/realized…. some will be whole blog posts of their own! But it’s getting late and I was going to go to bed early, so I’d better get to it! :) And I plan to paddle the last 130 km soon (from Tompkin’s to Fort Vermilion)! It will take about 3 days — let me know if you want to join me! I wouldn’t mind company!