One of the reasons that I chose to paddle my canoe along this route is because I am an admirer of David Thompson and all of his achievements as a fur trader and mapmaker from 1784 until 1812. The Saskatchewan rivers were his highway on his way west to trade for the beaver skins and returning east loaded with the furs for the North West Company.
David Thompson was take on by the Hudson's Bay Company as an apprentice clerk in 1783 and travelled to the Hudson Bay in 1784 when he was 14 years old. That was the beginning of his lifelong career as fur trader, explorer and cartographer. He became a proficient surveyor while he spent a long period recovering from a badly broken leg. Once he had recovered he travelled across what is now Canada and parts of Idaho and Washington trading for beaver furs, establishing trading posts and creating the survey data that became the maps of the area where he had established the fur trade for the Northwest Company. His maps became the maps that were used to help determine the Canada/USA border and were used as the authoritative map of Canada for many years after his death.
My preparations for the trip are progressing well but the pace will have to accelerate over the next three weeks. My departure date is now decided - June 2. Jenny will drive me to Rocky Mountain House with my canoe and equipment starting on June 1 and staying at Aurum Lodge with our friends Alan and Madeleine Ernst for the night before completing the drive on June 2. This will break up the journey for Jenny and make an early start on the river possible for me.
Since my last post I have approached several businesses for sponsorship with some success. The list on the sidebar shows sponsors who have already provided items that will help me to complete my trip safely. More will be added in the next week as I receive the help that I have requested.
Last Saturday, May 1, Jenny and I went to Hinton to have our winter wheels swapped out for our summer wheels and at the same time I collected some of my equipment from our storage in Hinton. Unfortunately I left my equipment list at home so we will be going back In the next week to collect everything that I need and bringing it back to Jasper where I can start to organize how it will be packed.
As I add posts to this blog I will be attempting to raise awareness about Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and other forms of infant deaths. This has particular significance for me because I have lost three granddaughters to unexpected infant deaths: Hazel died from SIDS, Lily died due to a serious genetic disorder and Eva was stillborn. The term used to classify many forms of infant deaths is Sudden Unexpected Infant Death (SUID) and SIDS is included as a category within this group.
"Sudden unexpected infant death (SUID) is a term used to describe the sudden and unexpected death of a baby less than 1 year old in which the cause was not obvious before investigation. These deaths often happen during sleep or in the baby's sleep area." (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) https://www.cdc.gov/sids/about/index.htm
Obviously, as this will be my last extreme outdoor, I would like it to be a successful fund raiser for Gill and Hazel's Heroes so that she can continue with her retreats to support grieving mothers. Donating is difficult if you don't know how you can to do it, so here is the information you need to donate to support my effort.
You can donate through etransfer to firstname.lastname@example.org
To receive a tax receipt, you can pay online through the SIDS Calgary Society website.
OR Donate directly on our GoFundMe page
Cheques can be made payable to Hazel's Heroes Society. Please contact us for mailing information.
If you would like to receive a tax receipt, you can make your cheque payable to "SIDS Calgary Society" with "Hazel's Heroes" written in the memo line. Cheques can be mailed to P.O. Box 50087, Marlborough Postal Outlet, Calgary, AB T2A 7P1. A tax receipt will be mailed back to your address.
If you're a gambler you can donate an amount for each kilometre that I complete of this monster paddle along David Thompson's fur trade highway. The chart below will give you an idea of how much you are willing to risk! If you decide to sponsor me in this manner, please leave a comment so we can all see your commitment.
Since my last post to this blog I have been busy and with some success. I approached two companies and asked for some sponsorship help for the dehydrated food I will require and a new spray deck for my canoe with only one spray skirt for a solo paddler. For those of you that wonder what a spray deck is, it's a cover that fits over the whole length of the canoe to prevent water coming in from whitewater waves and from rain. On a long trip it keeps everything safe and dry including me. Usually a spray deck has two spray skirts, one for the front paddler and one for the back paddler and I have one already for two paddlers. Now I have one on order for a solo paddler with the spray skirt located over the front seat so that I can face towards the back when I paddle. That puts me in a more central position where I have better control of the canoe. The picture below shows you what a spray deck looks like.
As for the dehydrated food, I ordered 30 meals which I have already received. I chose to go with Harvest Foodworks because on my canoe trip round the Bowron Lakes the one meal we had from them was by far the best. Here's a small sample of the meals that I'm going to be eating on my paddle.
Last year I discussed the possible trips that I could undertake as a substitute for the trip to Tuscany which was cancelled due to Covid. One consideration was paddling from Rocky Mountain House to Cumberland House along the North Saskatchewan River and the Saskatchewan River, a journey of approximately 1450km. In the end, due to my procrastination, I didn't get my act together and I ended up doing two short hikes along the Athabasca Pass Trail instead. This year, after experiencing concerns about my age, my ability and the possible difficulties, I have started planning to paddle from Rocky Mountain House in late May or early June. So far I have approached a canoe company for some help with a spray deck that will allow me to paddle sitting on the bow seat facing towards the stern, a position that provides much more steering control. I've looked at the reviews for dehydrated and freeze dried foods and identified the brand that I think will be the best. I've started a Google Group so that I can send out group emails to let the group members know when I have made a new post to my Hazel's Helper blog. I have found someone who has volunteered to pick me up at the end of the trip or at any time that I need to cut my journey short for whatever reason. I have discovered that SaskPower will transfer me and my equipment around the two dams that they have on the river in Saskatchewan. Good progress but there is still much planning to be done - equipment list, food list, clothing list and buying everything that is still needed.
I'll keep you posted as my planning progresses.
These sponsors helped to make my canoe trip possible.
You can help me to achieve my goals for this trip in a number of ways: