Saturday, April 17, 2010

An April Fools Adventure

A couple of weeks ago, on April 1st, NSE announced it's big plans for a grand expedition. This trip was big - over 3000km, the first thousand of which was across the prairie and farmland of Saskatchewan following creeks, ditches and small rivers. Some of the route was standard fare having been utilised by natives and fur-traders for hundreds of years or more. Other parts of the trip were a little more unique and off the beaten path. Most of that first 1000km is only navigable during a narrow window of spring runoff. Furthermore, the 1000km estimate for the first third was highly conservative - we simply got tired of measuring all those meanders in the small rivers. Finally, to make things even more grand, we chose to do the trip in a direction that would ensure that most of the trip was uphill! (We had to hit the southern waterways early while there was still some water left in them.)

Our announcement garnered a lot of response (which was our goal, after all). Some very supportive, others incredulous, some incensed. And, when they learned that it was all a big April Fools joke, some were down right ticked off. We thought certain aspects would have tipped people off to the false nature of the post, but evidently not everyone got it. For instance, our sponsors included not only the Saskatchewan Roughriders, but also the Canadian Wheat Board. Now it's a pretty far stretch to imagine the Riders sponsoring a canoe trip, but the CWB? A certain brother of mine was apparently ready to write a letter of protest to the CWB expressing his degree of outrage that the CWB would be directing any form of sponsorship toward a canoe trip. Other friends of the group were ticked off at being asked to financially support our venture. 

We had some good responses in the comments section of the original post, on facebook, and via e-mail. For posterity and your enjoyment, we'll post some of the responses we had here.
CP: Slightly insane - and VERY impressive. I look forward to your pictures!
BH: Are you paddling or poling? I heard that poling is the new thing and paddling is so yesterday.
RB: That is in-freakin-credible! You have to get a sponsor who will keep you linked up the whole time so that you can blog it all!
BS Reply: You might even say it's un-freakin-believable! Happy April 1st!
RB Reply: jack ass!
SS: Will you be doing it on a weekend? I might be interested if I could be back by supper on Sunday.
JY: Wow! Make sure you have passports with you for that first leg – and be careful how you brandish your paddles south of the border! Very impressive trip – but maybe for the 20 year trip you can paddle over the 4 corners of the province.
LD: All I have to say is that is a LOT of girl's weekends for me and K!!
JS: WOW! I’m glad you’re starting out early.  I’m from Carrot River and it’s barebones by summer, and I sense this is going to be hot, dry sucker, also the mossies are the size of ravens along it.  Those northeast creeks are going to be, uh, fun…. I hope you like beaver.
Are you going to do Blue Sky [local CBC Radio] reports?
...Ric isn’t familiar with this first part of the route, by the way.
BS Reply: J., I can't believe Ric isn't familiar with that route. It's a famous route well documented by the Hutterite paddlers at the turn of the century.
CN: I think I paddled Yellow Grass Ditch one spring a long long time ago, back when EVERYTHING in Middle Earth was flat.
Remember to take a hard right at the dead cow.
WD: That plan truly is EPIC ! week per leg? How do you guys manage to schedule this?
DB: Hey Jay, I'll offer you all the moral support in the world, and usually financial is not too hard to come by, but I think I better draw the line at paying for my buddy's holidays...:)
MB: (After the joke was revealed) What’s really annoying about all of this were my immediate plans to sneak away for a part of the summer and join the expedition…
The fact that you spent hours creating a trip that couldn’t exist says a lot about you though.  I’m not sure what, but definitely something.
SS: You guys are a bunch of punks.  Good one.  I must say though, it speaks to our overestimation of your stamina & canoeing ability.  And our ignorance of what is physically possible for a bunch of beer-guzzling goofballs.
IB: Wow, that is some trip. How many beers did it take for you to come up with that route, and how many are you taking with you. I suspect that you are pulling a bit of an April fools joke on us? But if not, maybe I can sign on for the Clearwater River section of your route.
RZ: You had me. I was thinking "Epic" and trying to imagine how much time and effort it would take to do it. I guess that I'm just too willing to believe that some people go on these amazing expeditions. Good one.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Fishing For a Sale

A keen country lad applied for a salesman's job at a city department store. In fact it was the biggest store in the world - you could get anything there. The boss asked him, "Have you ever been a salesman before?" "Yes, I was a salesman in the country" said the lad. The boss liked the cut of him and said, "You can start tomorrow and I'll come and see you when we close up."

The day was long and arduous for the young man, but finally 5 o'clock came around. The boss duly fronted up and asked, "How many sales did you make today?" "One," said the young salesman. "Only one?" blurted the boss, "most of my staff make 20 or 30 sales a day. How much was the sale worth?" "Three hundred thousand dollars," said the young man. "How did you manage that?" asked the flabbergasted boss. "Well," said the salesman "this man came in and I sold him a small fish hook, then a medium hook and finally a really large hook. Then I sold him a small fishing line, a medium one and a huge big one. I asked him where he was going fishing and he said down the coast. I said he would probably need a boat, so I took him down to the boat department and sold him that twenty foot schooner with the twin engines. Then he said his Volkswagen probably wouldn't be able to pull it, so I took him to the car department and sold him the new Deluxe Cruiser."

The boss took two steps back and asked in astonishment, "You sold all that to a guy who came in for a fish hook?" "No," answered the salesman "He came in to buy a box of Tampons for his wife and I said to him, 'Your weekend's shot, you may as well go fishing.'"

Thursday, April 1, 2010

NSE 2010 Expedition Plans Revealed

2010 is a big year for Northstar Expeditions. It's our 10th year of tripping together so we want to do it right and we figured this was THE year to go big or go home.

2010 Four Borders Expedition

It's taken a lot of hard work and planning (we just spent the whole weekend preparing and stockpiling jerky) , but we are finally ready to reveal what's in store this year. We are looking at a major expedition. Our goal: to cross all four borders of our home province, Saskatchewan. Yup, that's right we are going to hit the southern, eastern, western and northern borders of our giant rectangular province. We will start in the south and work our north, hitting the eastern and western borders as we go.

Here is our route plan: We will start early in the season by paddling on Long Creek near Crosby, ND, across the border into Saskatchewan and onto Boundary Dam. From there, it's into the Souris River to Weyburn and into Yellow Grass Ditch (that's right, a ditch with a name, and the best part about it is that it skips all the damn oxbows we've been weaving through for the previous 160km! Oh, how we will grow to love/hate those oxbows), back into the Souris River to Wascana Creek. This we will follow downriver through Regina (right past my uncle's house) and on (right past another uncle's house) to the junction with the Qu'Appelle River at Lumsden to Mountain Creek at Craven to Last Mountain Lake, into Lanigan Creek which we will paddle upstream to Delwood Brook, portage into Wolverine Creek (which flows two directions), to Humboldt Lake and on via the Wolverine to Ranch Lake (locally Ranch Slough). The Wolverine will take 50% of NSE right past the farms where they grew up and we will be stopping in for a couple of meals, equipment repairs, resupply, and a few beer. From Ranch Slough we will continue on to Eagle Lake via a series of ditches, sloughs and gravel road portages. We leave Eagle Lake via Melfort Creek (from which point our prairie traverse will certainly get easier) to the Carrot River. The Carrot River will be our meandering highway for a while as we paddle out of the prairie farmland and enter the forest! To this point, we will have traveled somewhere over 1000km.

Leg 1 - 1000 km of meandering creeks, sloughs and reservoirs, with at least one gravel road portage.

Satellite view of Leg 1.

Leg 2 of our journey has us continuing down the Carrot River (in the forest now and we will be encountering our first real rapids of the trip) past the Sipanok Channel (access to Sask River) and on into Manitoba, where we will enter into the Saskatchewan River at The Pas, MB. From there, we paddle just as the voyageur's did, upriver on the Saskatchewan River back into Saskatchewan and entering Cumberland Lake and the Sturgeon-Weir River system at Cumberland House. The voyageur highway takes us up the Sturgeon-Weir River to Namew Lake, Amisk Lake, past Pawistik Lodge, Mirond Lake, Pelican Lake, and Wood Lake, crossing the famous Frog Portage into the Churchill River system at Trade Lake. From there it's upriver on the Churchill westward across the province all the way to Lac La Loche (end of Leg 2, a distance of some 1200 km).

Leg 2 - Out of the prairie and into the boreal forest and onto the shield.

Satellite view of Leg 2.

From Lac La Loche we will continue on the voyageur highway and cross the infamous Methye Portage into the westward-flowing Clearwater River. After having fun in some of the Clearwater's rapids, we will join the Athabasca River at Fort Mac (Fort McMurray), a good location to re-supply and perhaps earn some trip money by working a few days in the Alberta Tar Sands. The Athabasca River will take us to Fort Chip and Lake Athabasca, and once again, back into Saskatchewan. We will follow the beautiful south shore of Lake Athabasca (maybe I will try to show the others where I caught that 35 pound trout), passing the Athabasca Sand Dunes, and travel upstream on the Fond du Lac River to the Grease River which will take us northeast to the Straight River. The Straight will connect us to Selwyn Lake where we will make cross the border into  the Northwest Territories, several kilometers before we dip back into Saskatchewan, finishing our trip at a hot tub in Selwyn Lake Lodge (Leg 3 total over 950 km). Whew, that's a lot of waterways!

Final leg of our epic voyage.

Of course we will be posting updates as we get closer to launch time and may even update things as we go when the opportunity allows.

NSE would like to thank our sponsors: (And there is always room for more sponsors!)