Saturday, August 30, 2008

Away We Go

Our initially intended departure point was from somewhere in Winnipeg on the Red River. Just down the road from the outfitter however was the Assiniboine River, which connected to the Red. It was much easier to get there so that was the new plan. Much to our surprise, that morning a Winnipeg Newspaper was notified about our planned trip and was at the river to greet us.

We spoke to the girls from the Winnipeg Free Press a bit while hastily stuffing our kayaks full of gear. I nearly threw my back out just carrying the kayaks down to the river. While I generally travel as light as possible, I was carrying 30 liters of water, weighing in at approximately 60 pounds. I thought I might need a mask and snorkel as I would be paddling a submarine. Dawn from Wilderness Supply, who drove us down to river shook her head and expressed some concern as to how low our kayaks were sitting in the river. Whatever was to happen would be fully documented by the Winnipeg Free Press, whose article can be found here. A few things about the article: I was not a stock broker, but did work on Wall Street. I have a few miles left to hike on the Appalachian Trail, due to an injury which is believed to be Compartment Syndrome. I have also been to about 60 countries but only 40 since leaving work.

As we paddled along with the current we gained confidence but was a slight bit shaken when much to our surprise a boat came roaring around the corner. We took our first break after about 5.5 miles when the Assiniboine river Joined the Red at "The Forks". The Forks is an esplanade with a number of shops and restaurants, so we each wandered around there for a bit to stretch our legs.

As we set off on the Red River the difference was immediate in that we were now paddling against the current. Not only that, but it is a wider river, so there was no place to hide from the wind that was, of course, blowing in our face. The forecast was for winds gusting up to 70 knots. Sweet.

Towards the end of the day we began scanning the banks for a place to stop and camp. The problem with the Red River though is that the banks are generally fairly steep and muddy. The only places with any reasonable place to exit the river were private homes. We were after all, still in Winnipeg proper. We found a grassy patch down by the river only to realize that there was a house up off the river just a bit. As it was late in the day and light was fading, we decided to go up and knock on the door. Our new friend Rick could not have been nicer and gave us the go ahead to camp on his lawn. Thanks Rick.

Kobie and I had a few concerns about raccoons or what have you giving us a hard time in the night, but the mosquitoes proved to be a worse hassle. I never thought Canadian mosquitoes could be so ravenous. They were worse than in the jungles of Borneo; seriously. As the wind howled I didn't get the best nights sleep but I can think of worse ways to end day one.

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