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August 2016

5 Things I Know Now: End Of Canada Exped

Yet again, I find myself sitting on a Westjet plane, seat 34E on another long haul flight, the difference here however to previously is that I have a very different perspective on my life.

Today (24.08.16) marks the end of the Canada expedition. For me, 1 whole year has gone into planning and preparation, for others even longer, but overall, the hard work has paid off. I can now officially say that I have paddled 369km of Quiet Lake to Big Salmon River to the Yukon River in the time of 10 days and 9 nights, all of which spent wilderness camping with only a satellite phone to keep in contact with the outside world. At one point of the trip the nearest road to us was 100 km away- pretty darn well remote!

So, here’s 5 things I’ve learnt from this process:
1. Silence though sometimes deafening, is a beautiful thing.
– I remember, one time, sitting at camp no. 5 we’d had a very unusual day of weather and the temperature in the evening was falling short of 30*c. We’d had a swim in the river (I say swim, more like a competition of who could stand in the ice cold river the longest- Emily won πŸ˜‰ ) and I sat with Tom, Oli and Richard, while the others cooked for the night, and watched the river flow while the sun beat down on us. And for a brief few moments all I heard on that high bank was nothing. Nothing but me and my idle thoughts and the rushing Salmon river passing by. It was truly incredible.
2. Whether you have a porcelain throne or you have to squat, I’m strangely now comfortable with either- though a proper toilet is always preferred!! πŸ˜‰
– Small anecdote for this one- camp 2 had the most wonderful view from the loo. It looked out on the oxbow being formed. With an island in the middle with long trees which situated eagle’s nests on the top- not a bad view from the bog!
3. The little petty things in life really don’t matter. ClichΓ© I know but 100% true.
– Not once while all 14 of us have been on this trip have we had an argument- quite a statement ever since we’ve been with each other for 2 weeks straight. That’s not to say no one has annoyed each other, there was a couple of times I was a little short with a couple of people, but we all understood that in that environment you just had to drop it, take a breath and move on, something I’ll take on for daily life.
4. Never (unless there is some miracle) will I be a “morning person”- I can sleep anywhere at anytime and I really enjoy sleep!
– Each morning wake up time would vary between inhumanly early 0515 to lie-in 0630. Yet though we’d had a good 8-10 hours sleep (which got easier as the days went on) was still pretty hard to wake up to, yet, we all did anyway. Prising myself away from the warmth and comfort of my sleeping bag was quite an accomplishment in my eyes, especially when you knew you’d have 50 km to go until you could crawl back into sleep.
5. I Can Do Anything I Set My Mind To.
– I only truly realised during how much self- doubt had surrounded me coming into the expedition. I shan’t pretend everything was hunky- dory all the time, for the first couple of days of the trip I was riddled with anxiety of whether or not I was good enough to do this trip- causing myself sometimes to be ill- something I’ve never experienced before. However, my turning point was on the morning of the 2nd day paddling. It had been a pretty rough first night camping, waking up every couple of hours, slightly cold due to the lack of food I’d eaten that night. However I’d gotten out of my tent and stood up to look over the Big Quiet Lake. The sky was a pink and lilac haze over the valley’s mountains reflected in the lake. I remember thinking to myself “I’m here. I made it. You can’t turn back now. You can’t not do it.”
Steadily over the next couple of days I ate more and more, that anxiety was washed away by the Km paddled and I even went up for 3rds for dinner on some nights!
I realised that I don’t need anyone’s but my own permission to do anything I want to do. Though, support of others is a wonderful thing and luckily I had wonderful support at home through Mum, Dad, Fin, the rest of my amazing family, Stan, and friends. Also out on the river without the laughs and songs from those fantastic people on the exped the situation may have been very different! But really I did this, I used my physical and mental strength to paddle up to 68km in one day. I wouldn’t change a single aspect of this trip. And quite frankly, I’d do it all again (though I was also quite happy for some R&R in Vancouver after!).

This has been a bit of a zen-moment-of-reflection blog, but I’d really like to thank all those involved with this Exped and the training, especially the staff, Dave, Chris, Kat, Mark, Dave E and Max (and Emma during Scotland) and my fellow Paddlers Emily, Richard, Tom, Oli, Ryan, Ben and Dan for making this once-in-a-lifetime trip truly memorable.
So how about Austria next year? Or New Zealand?!

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Canada: It’s finally happening!

Currently, I am sitting on a WestJet plane, awaiting 2 people to turn up so that we can get on our way to Vancouver. I’ve set up my middle seat 32E for the 10hr10min trip: light off, book and water in basket, air con off and comfy socks on!

Really I should start this log by apologising for the lack of logs since February, so, Sorry… But life has happened and I’ve been pretty busy the last few months!
My excuses:
– A levels were pretty crazy, and dragged on a little longer than I hoped, but feeling at ease.
– Uni visits! In June mum and I have been on small trips away to the Uni of Exeter, Penryn and Birmingham scoping out possible options! Mum definitely had a favourite, and if you know my mum, which one is obvious!
– ROADTRIP USA! I should probably write a whole other post on my AMAZING 2 week trip the USofA, but long story short mum, dad, Fin and I toured around some of the National Parks: Bryce Canyon, Arches, Monument Valley and Zion National Park! Starting at Vegas we picked up our RV and ended up in LA for some sun and relaxing- it was incredible.
– Holiday No. 2 Squad goes to AMSTERDAM. Again, I will write another post for it, but it was fantastic, setting off on my first “alone” trip, acting like an adult with 7 of the best people I’ve ever met was a brilliant experience and one I’ll treasure forever. And Amsterdam. Wow. Canals, cycling, bars and parks. What a city!
– Working, eh, how else could I afford these trips?!
– Fundraising and training! With Canada coming up there was fundraising to do and paddling to partake in before we could be set to go! Oli was organised enough get us a stand at Lindfield Village Fete, which again we brought the climbing wall and had a great day! Then of course I had my own fundraising to do, applying to the generous Collyers Association Award for a bursary and succeeding subsidising the cost of the trip by Β£500 which I am very very grateful for!
Training wise we had a weekend of the full team paddling at Piddinghoe Pond and in the River Ouse, sorting out our J Strokes, Hanging draws and how to fall in the water correctly! πŸ˜‰ Followed by a team meeting and BBQ where we were taught how to gut and fillet a fish and cook it! Yummy!

So I think that brings us up to date, even after writing all of that we’re still waiting to go, but hey, can’t really complain it’s not like it will shorten the journey.
It was a struggle to pack my bag, having it weigh approx. 19kg, not that weight was an issue, just space! But still made room for Monty the Canadian Mounty Beaver to get in thanks to Grandma and Papa.

So here we go, finally moving and heading on the trip of a lifetime! I shan’t lie, I’m extremely nervous, but I’m also very very excited! Till the next 5 months! (Haha, only joking… Maybe… πŸ˜‰ )

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