Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Whitewater weekend

On August 14th, 7 of us from the Saskatoon Canoe Club met in Missinipe. Mark, Ellen, Russ, Graham, Valery, Kathy and Anne Marie. The next morning we loaded our boats and pushed off from the Devil Lake boat launch. We had come to enjoy good friendship, hot sun, warm water and of course the rapids. We spent the next 4 days playing hard in the Barker lake area, spending a lot of time at Surf City, Carla's Rapid. For some it was an opportunity to learn new skills like side surfing and others honed and perfected the skills that they already had. A group of us had been in the area in '07 and the water level was maybe 6 to 8 inches higher this year. The days were extremely hot, reaching 30 degrees and in the evenings the humidity would rise. Everyone had fun in the water and swimming down Surf City was a popular pass time even if it wasn't always on purpose. The group rented an Esquif Vertige X from Churchill River Outfitters, which was fully outfitted with floatation bags, thigh straps and three saddles. It was great to have on hand for everyone to try out. I tried to roll it but the solo saddle wasn't set up for someone my height and so as soon as I was inverted under water I promptly fell out. On the second last night we decided to have a sauna. Valery had brought back, from Russia, a Russian Bania. After heating 7-9 rocks on the fire for 3-4 hours we erected the sauna, piled the rocks in the middle and dripped water over them to create the steam. The bania, which was designed specifically for camping worked great. It was pretty well air tight and didn't allow the heat to escape and kept out the cool drafts. After spending about 30-40 minutes inside the rocks had lost most of their heat and so it was time to jump in the lake. In Russia, it is tradition to have tea after a suana so we grabbed a mug of tea and floated around in the lake drinking tea. It's not easy trying to swim and keep your mug above water.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Missinipe in High Resolution

Google Earth has finally updated the Missinipe and Barker Lake area image. It is now in high resolution. it's not the best image and it's taken in early winter but it's in high res.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Bear encounters

Here's my latest encounter on the wild side. This past summer while on my extended canoe trip, It was morning and I was in my camp packing and preparing to start my day of paddling when I heard some noise down at the waters edge. I grabbed my camera and a bear banger and sure enough there was a bear walking up the path. When he caught wind of me he took off into the woods about 25 yards and circled back in for another look. he walked straight towards me and stopped only 4 (about 12 feet) paces from me. I took some pics then said to the bear in a calm voice, "that's close enough, it's time for you to leave" and I shot off the bear banger. The bear took off like a shot and could be heard running through the forest like a cannon ball. After he was gone I started to shake from the adrenaline, I had never been that close to a wild bear before. I didn't at any time feel threatened. This experience is one that I will cherish for a long time. To meet a wild animal in his environment is truly a great experience. Everything was stripped away, all the walls that society has built between the wild and ourselves to keep us from really appreciating the natural world were gone. All that was left was just me and the bear.