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River Of Hope Day 5: Angels Among Us

Updated: Jun 29, 2022

The smoke was still high up in the sky but you could smell it and knew that if the air pressure changed it would settle lower down. We pushed off in an odd heat clouded by smoke. Where you're sweating even though the sun isn't touching your body.

Today was the last day Reta and I would be together, after this section she would head back and I would continue on. It was very bittersweet. Reta is one of the most skilled paddlers I know. Her safety skills and knowledge are second to none and with that I felt so safe the whole time on the river.

My own skills excel in different areas which made us such a strong team on the water.

We don't always need to talk and I know after this trip there isn't anywhere we couldn't paddle together. We paddled past more stunning scenery and had a buck in velvet swim across in front of us.

At this point in time was when the smoke was very bad and I was struggling to breath. I kept deferring when to stop and take my puffer, Benedryl and put on a buff. The buck was a sign from my Dad up above (to me anyways) it was time to stop. It's difficult to stop when you get in a groove of paddling on the water it disrupts the meditative quality of it.

Taking the time to look after myself made a huge difference. I looked like a bandit about to rob banks and even told Dad jokes on the water. Hey Reta wanna go rob the banks out here....

The smoke was oppressive, today we had a specific destination to make. 71.5 km to Windfall Bridge. This is where our friend Liz was meeting us with Reta's van and my new crew of paddlers were joining.

It was such a longgggg day, I'm not sure why but it really was. Perhaps knowing we had to get somewhere instead of until we're done. Finally as we rounded a corner we saw the bridge.

There was such amazing cloud formations over Reta's head as I looked behind at her. It looked like an angel. There were tears as we finished for both of us, it was the end of an epic trip.

In the distance past the bridge there was odd noises and what looked like a quad parked on the rivers edge. We kept paddling having no clue what was going on. Finally, we realized they were saying our names and knew us...what the heck?

These four amazing women showed up in the middle of nowhere to cheer us in. What an unbelievable surprise. Food beyond your wildest dreams, drinks, fun and laughter until my stomach and cheeks hurt more than any other part of my body from laughing.

It is a rare thing to find such good people in your life, I am so thankful for them.

As we enjoyed some rest and food on the riverside my new paddling partners began to roll in.

Terell Jonasson is from Athabasca and we arranged in May for him to join for the second half of the trip when Reta would leave. Clarke who joined on the first day was also coming along for the rest of the paddle.

Synchronicity: when Clarke doesn't have a kayak and Terell shows up with a double kayak and no partner literally two hours before we were going to have to figure out what to do...WOW!

Another person was joining who we nicknamed "Stranger Danger" was Victor from Revelstoke. He Instagram messaged me and drove 8 hours just to paddle for three days. I never met him in person and other than messaging with him I didn't know what I was getting. He looked in his photos like he knew how to paddle.

Off to bed early again and still no Victor I would meet him in the morning. Terell and Clarke have met and squished all their gear into the Pelican 2.0 which we so affectionately nicknamed her.

As I went to sleep I was so excited to see my husband the next day it had been a week since he dropped me off in Jasper and I felt so relieved to know as I got more tired he would be there to support me.

Read Day 6: Here

Sending You Love N SUP,

Lisa Stocking

Owner Paddle Athabasca

CANRVRSUP River 1 Instructor

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