Well, I made it to the big city, in one piece. Quite the welcome, actually--an angry deer stomping her feet and snorting at me on an island, beavers everywhere, a herd of panicky cows not happy that I was stuck in their slough, and some wild winds last night... lots of excitement. This morning I paddled into the city and stowed my gear up on a bank and hiked in. I'm at the library, and need to find a place to stay, a few groceries and little items. Phone calls home and to friends, a bath, and a restaurant meal! I haven't seen a soul in three days, or spoken to anyone, so it's nice to chat with people again.
I have to say, I do miss Angela and I hope she can get her back better. I can imagine how emotional it would be to be in her shoes. We had planned so much together, and had so much invested in the trip. It was extremely difficult to continue making plans and talk about going on solo, while she made plans to leave. We made excellent progress in those first 9 days, and got along great, in the boat and in camp. We had the same mindset about camp life and being clean and organized, and a desire to spend long hours on the water. Lots in common (even strange thoughts, like the night we camped beside some busy beavers and both fell asleep wondering if they'd find and chew our paddles up!)
I did have butterflies in my stomach when I paddled a way from Jay and Angela under the bridge. I had done a little bit of solo overnight canoe tripping, and lots of days puttering around solo in canoes and on hikes, but not with a big, heavy loaded boat and weeks of travel ahead of me.
Despite my worries, I put in a couple of extra hours on the water each day, and I've been able to make it between 50-70 km, which put me in North Battleford sooner than anticpated. I'm not finding the boat too hard to manage, as I initially worried I might. I do enjoy the days alone on the water, but it does get lonely in the evenings, when everything is packed away, dinner's eaten and it doesn't get dark till 10:30/11.
The river is changing down here--choked with islands and narrow channels, and it's harder to find campsites as the high water mark on the banks is sometimes 6 ft or so up. I've been lucky to find grassy spots on the banks to tuck in my tent, and sometimes a spot at the end of a farm road along the river.
I'm holding out hope I can meet up with my brother somewhere between Price Albert and the Pas, and paddle with him a while. Karl has cleared his schedule to spend the last week or so with me, through Ontario and to the end.
Somedays I feel really hopeful, and some days are frustratingly long... it's going to take some perseverance to keep the goal in sight, but I am excited and happy...