There are two rivers that are of interest to me for this year's extended trip - the North Saskatchewan River and the Athabasca River. Both have historical importance for Canadian history, both for the opening of the west by David Thompson and the latter for the amazing explorations of Canada by Alexander MacKenzie. Both rivers offer wilderness travel for long distances and for extended periods of time. From Edmonton to Cumberland House on the North Saskatchewan is a journey of 600 miles and from its source in Jasper National Park to Lake Athabasca along the Athabasca River is a journey of 765 miles.
I have pictures of the North Saskatchewan River from my many paddles on the river from Saskatchewan River Crossing to Edmonton but I don't have any of the Athabasca River.
I would love to paddle both of these routes and follow in the footsteps of the early fur trade explorers especially the North Saskatchewan because I hold a great admiration for David Thompson. Unfortunately travelling solo down the Athabasca River would be impossible for me because of the difficulties created by rapids and the logistical nightmare of resupplying food and fuel along the way. The North Saskatchewan is still a possibility but it is too late to consider it for this year. There are enough communities along the river that it would be possible to stop and buy supplies along the way. However there is a problem at the end of the trip. What do I do with the canoe and all of my equipment? Cumberland House is a small, isolated community difficult to access by road and 1229 kilometres from Jasper. For that matter, how do I get back to Jasper even if I abandon all of my equipment by leaving it as a gift for the local Cumberland House residents? If I am going to attempt this journey I will need a paddling partner and a person who is willing to meet us at the end of the trip to load up the canoe and equipment and return to Jasper. Maybe next year. We'll see.
Obviously paddling is not an option for this year.
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