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River Of Hope Day 6: All Aboard

Updated: Jun 29, 2022

Departure time was a bit later today, 8 am to allow us to get everyone settled into the rhythm of packing up and paddling.

Victor was up bright and early even with arriving at 11 pm. How he found our camp in the dark is beyond me other than thank goodness for Google Maps. We introduced ourselves and set off onto the water.

Reta and I had a teary goodbye mostly because I think she was worried about me leaving with a kayak showing very little freeboard, one newbie kayaker, a 20 year old raft guide and some guy from Paris, France I just met an hour ago (Victor is originally from France!).

Off we went paddling on the mighty Athabasca River once again. It wasn't forever goodbye as they were driving to Whitecourt to meet us there and have one last send off.

Whitecourt is where Trevor (my hubby) and Dan (his Uncle) were launching as well.

We coasted into town through the most wood I have ever seen built up on river banks it was unbelievable to see the power of water.

A final good bye and we settled into a steady pace of life on the water. My new found paddling partners and I seemed to integrate seamlessly. As we neared Blue Ridge we could hear the jet boat off in the distance catching up. Motorized support had arrived, I would be able to shed some weight and sleep in the boat at night which is one of my favourite places to sleep.

This turned into a longer day but it was a good one, we made it to 5 Mile Island and I was ready to make camp. Sending the jet boat ahead to find a suitable spot they gave us two options: one closer and one a few miles further.

As we were watching the banks we saw a bunch of trails and wondered what they were, suddenly the boys yelled there's a cabin. It was the first place on the option list. Paddling hard to eddy out we made it just in time. The irony of this cabin was we knew the owners and didn't even realize it until we got there.

No need to utilize the actual dwelling we set up our tents and used the fire pit to enjoy some well deserved rest. 80.5 km done and a monumental 393 km of total mileage which means I had completed over half of my journey.

Victor was so kind he even packed a six pack of Tim Hortons donuts in his dry bag for us to celebrate! Along with a Big Mac my husband had picked up for me it was beyond tasty all of it.

You cannot eat enough on the river to sustain your weight and often times you don't have the appetite while on the water even if you could eat. You just paddle, snack and drink to keep making miles and good time.

This motley crew here was a party on the water, we laughed and had so much fun the first day. Paddling over long expeditions is an intimate experience and often times something you only share with people you trust and know.

I can say I'm so grateful I went into this with an open heart and accepted whatever came my way, it turned out to be the best group; I couldn't have handpicked a better one if I tried.

Stories around the fire and off to bed early again, a plethora of wildlife at this camp; a cow moose and calf, deer surrounding us everywhere and beavers out the backside of our boat while we slept. A thunderstorm blew off in the distance approaching. I slept well knowing Trevor had tied down our water crafts to the trees just in case of a big wind tried to blow them away.

Read Day 7: Here

Sending You Love N SUP,

Lisa Stocking

Owner Paddle Athabasca

CANRVRSUP River 1 Instructor

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