I did it. I actually did it. It started as a little spark of an idea from a few years ago and it grew and grew and changed and became this amazing trip from Sault Sainte Marie, Ontario, to St. Anne de Beaupre, Quebec. So because this is the first writing for my site that I have done, post trip, here are the headlines.
Total number of days: 34
Distance Covered: ~860 miles (~1,384 km)
Days spent not paddling: 3
Average Daily Distance: ~25 miles (~41 km)
Longest Single Day: ~44 miles (~71 km)
Favorite Camp: “The Shack” between Donnacona & Neuville
Number of Portages: 26
Most Portages in One Day: 9
Longest Portage: ~4 miles (~6.4 km)
Offical Beer: Mill St. Brewery Tankhouse Ale (Acquired during my portage through Ottawa
I have been working on writing a more concrete story based on my trip but it’s been difficult. This trip is so nebulous to me now that it is just these special little events separated by long periods of often boring paddling. When I think back there are a lot of days where all that really stands out is the misery of paddling in the heat or the cold or the wind. And the days that are really clear in my head are those that were usually the most taxing. The Day of the Portage as I remember stands out as one of those days because it seemed I would only be in my boat for 20 minutes before I had to get out and complete another portage. And the the Day of the Rapids, as I call it now when I went through Montreal, was another one of those days. I had a long morning over calm flat water and as the St. Lawrence narrowed the current picked up and rapids began to develop I got swept out into the main stream before I could get to shore and had to run a series of big Class 3 or small Class 4 waves. I made it through the giant waves by aiming for the narrow gaps between the walls of water and the only thing I lost was one of my Storm On stickers from Qajaq Japan. I left the big rapids shaking with adrenaline and thanking my lucky stars that I had spent all those days riding the gales on Lake Superior and playing on the local whitewater and also kicking myself for being so stupid as to allow myself to end up in that type of situation. I was much more careful to avoid the bumpy water for the rest of the day and after chatting with some river surfers further
downstream I blitzed through the narrows of the river on the huge swift current and completed my longest distance and possibly the most exciting single day of my entire trip.
This biggest thing about this trip for me were the people that I met. I met the Canadian Consul to South Africa, boat mechanics, fishermen, water police, ski bums, summer camp operators, and plenty of water angels. Seeing the terrain change as I traveled across eastern Canada was amazing but meeting the people was what made it special. Especially meeting people in Quebec where language became an issue was excellent. There were only a few instances where my minimal survivalist knowledge of the French language was really put to the test but those were often the most interesting as I tried to ask permission to camp or even just talking to people in the local grocery store.
There are so many stories to tell that I think I will have a good stock to last me a while. In conversation someone will say something that will often trigger a sudden rush of feelings as I recall some little moment of clarity or serendipity from my expedition. I knew as soon as I finished that I needed to do this type of trip again. I don’t know what I am going to do but I certainly am going to do it. When you travel under your own power you have the time to explore and talk to people and make a connection to the place. It puts everything into perspective. All it needs is to be slow. Some people have told me upon my return that “This sounds like the trip of a lifetime”. I usually respond in saying “No. It’s my first trip of a lifetime”.