Sunday, July 11, 2010

Hello from PA

Hi everyone,

Well, it was a peaceful, enjoyable but uneventful haul from North Battleford to PA. It seems that river section is a bit more remote, with more wildlife, fewer farms, roads and people in general. It got hot and buggy!! I've taken to packing everything up in a hurry in the mornings, and getting on the water as fast as I can--and then stopping to eat breakfast on a sandbar when the bug-insanity dies down.

I had wandered into the "Fort Carlton Historic Park," because from the river it looked like it was just some interpretive plaques along a bush road. Then I came out of the bush and stumbled onto a whole complex of buildings and parking lot. Always strange when you think you're alone and civilization appears. The ladies were really nice, and let me tour the 'museum' without paying admission, and enjoy the air conditioned building. It was heaven.

The beavers are still dominating the river as far as wildlife. They never fail to startle me when they leap off the banks and into the water. Wow, are they big around here! So many I guess they are considered pests. The ladies at the museum said I was lucky to have seen otters--I guess there used to be a lot more than there are now. From my knowledge, beavers and otters don't like each other, so maybe the high beaver numbers have something to do with it.

Lots of elk starting to appear. I had a whole family (5) cross the river in front of me at one point. Unlike the bears, where it seemed like Angela and I getting too close may have scared one of the cubs into drifting away, I gave these guys lots of space.

Lots of coyotes still yipping away--I was paddling late the other night (it was around 7 I think), and there was a complete uproar on both sides of the river from two groups of coyotes. Howling, barking, nearly screaming...they were really agitated! It always sends shivers up my spine.

The winds are pretty predictable these days, coming up in the afternoon and sticking around for a few hours. It took me a bit longer than it should have to stop getting frustrated and figure out a system! As I am generally travelling east, and the wind generally from then north/northwest, it has a tendency to try and pin my boat to the south shore of the river. It takes all my power just to turn the boat east again and I feel like screaming when that happens. So (it's probably so obvious to everyone else!) that as soon as I sense the winds picking up, I have to tack and turn the boat facing north and hold the angle tight, paddling straight into the wind... if I lose that angle I won't get it back without a fight! The river is choked with islands around here, so I have to plan my course around the islands carefully when it gets like that, so I can I use the wind to my advantage.

The other day I made an under-wear sail. Well, sort of. I needed to wash out clothes, and it was a nice breezy day (but too windy to lay clothes on the deck to dry). So I took the rope that's attached to the front of the boat and ran it up on an angle to my spare paddle, which i propped up against the thwart in front of me. Voila--a clothes line in the canoe! Worked like a charm.

It's nice to rest and bask in the luxury of a hotel room here. Real food, a bath tub, internet...ahhh. I left my gear with a really nice couple near the river, and they lent me a bike to get around town! Lots of really nice, helpful people in PA.

Erich gets here monday night, so the solo part of my trip is done! I'm glad I took up the challenge and continued on alone, but I'll be glad to have Erich along. I'm hoping he'll be with me until Fort Frances, where Karl will take his place.

That's all for now! I'm going to try hard to get some pictures up soon.


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