J – 2 Eager to start!


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Day minus 2 – The snow comes again

“it’s going to clear up and be a beautiful day” says Mike as he arrives from his bed. The mountains are full of mist rising from the valleys, the fire I started is keeping the chill humidity from penetrating and we share coffee as we devise on the day’s weather. Mike’s famous potatoes for breakfast with Dana’s dozen eggs beaten with water & spices is ready when all are up and about. Then it begins to mist. A cloud has enshrouded us to the point where we can barely see further than 20ft. By the time I take a picture it has started to rain, then sleet, and finally snow. Even if the temperatures have fallen 3 degrees since breakfast the snow only accumulates while it is snowing. Having covered the ground, it stops at around noon and begins it’s slow melting process once again. In the mean time we have all added clothes and find it rather humid and cold.


Weather changes

A good day, a day of waiting. We made
bread which was warm for lunch … it did not last long. The guacamole had too much cheese but was also eaten up, particularly good with the beans. Dana deplored that the pan had scorched the bread and left dry deposits on the bottom of the dish. This took out the work of curing the pan he had undertaken since arriving. Next time we’ll try with his oil based method even if my concern is not to fry the bread. Possibly I should have greased the pan prior to coating it with flour. Also the fire needs to be strong but not violent . .. we’ll just have to get better at this. The bread was delicious and having bread each day should be a real treat once on the water.

The plan as discussed with Mike this morning is to go away friday to arrive prior to close of the post office to insure we have received the ordered items. Then spend the day & Saturday in Revelstoke. This means we should hit the road on sunday to reach Saskatchewan River Junction and start that day or Monday 2nd of May. We had targeted the first of May, the year has been exceptional so we’ll accept a day’s delay … We mostly look forward to passing the first week and hopefully have spring meet us in the alberta plains. As someone mentioned this morning, we’ll be regretting the cold around July … but that is another story, we have a major mythical river, the saskatchewan to ride.

By this time the snow line has receded to 50 meters above us and all is dripping around us. A small breeze can be feared for it’s cold as it sends the smoke into the eyes of anyone within 10 ft of the fire. The trees dressed in their white mantle stare at us as if challenging our ability to go in their domain.

Day – 3 – Out to the Hot Tub


Mike's famous potatoes breakfast

Morning of play and daily living. All await the departure to the hot baths about 50 km away. After Breakfast of traditional Mike Potatoes, reading and music and … writing, picture taking and bird watching. I enumerate the activities but most of it is sitting around, sharing views, commenting or even sometimes having real discussions on a topic, life, sex, politics, art, philosophy, psychology, and the eternal subjects of daily living.


Tasks to fill the void

Into the truck we pile in, while Hugo stays behind to have some “alone” time. We 4 cramp up, 2 behind the seat and then roll at maximum speed to the destination. At last a turn off the road and a stop to uncramp! The 2 mile 4 wheel drive up to 500meters from the hot spring is in the back with legs stretched and bouncing all over the cabin. The upper road is too full of snow so we take the lower one that goes through a basin with water up to the doors. Leaving the pavement we had a couple following us that did not make it through the first snow covered hillside. 4×4’s could get directly to the hot pools, but the ethics of the users indicates it is best to park and walk to maintain the quiet peaceful environment of the hot pools. Arriving at the pools 5 persons are already in the baths and welcome us to join them. The covered shed next to the main pool allows all to leave their clothes out of the rain and those not wishing to be nude can put on swim suits. I ask specifically if anyone is bothered by nude bathing. All understand this as my announcement that I would be nude even if all presently in the water are wearing bathing suites. The guys follow suit, or should I say unsuited, anyhow our group is nude.

A couple are camping on site at the hot springs. Gentle couple with time to live. Tania and her daughter …. (name means beating heart) were accompanied by a man (we’ll call X here) they have been staying with. They met with him on their meanderings prior to going back east from where Mama won’t move. The social dialogue in the hot pool lets each one identify social and mental position in the group. Finding Tania in phase with my approach to life I invite her to join us on the trip. The guys are somewhat taken back, but Tania understands that it is both a real and a symbolic proposition. Should she decide to take the road I proposed then much would have to be negotiated. The purpose of such a statement is to open a door of life. Our life passes by the doors that we open for reasons know only to our inner selves. Life is an opportunity that finds it’s reasons. I try to propose to others doors that lead to opportunities that I sense as “possibles” both from a life perspective as well as a “cross roads” opportunity that makes sense. Rarely do people seize these offered gifts of “cross roads” in time. But those that do, have always lived strong life experiences that shape their lives. This canoe trip is such a cross road that I seized when I met Dana and Adam in Marrakesh. That day we shared a beer and songs on the terrace of our “pension” and as Dana mentionned his desire to cross canada in canoe, I insisted that if he did this I would come on the trip. The following year he came to visit and the trip became a project to build an adventure.

Can you “think out of the box” of your own life? Do we regret? Regrets are like rejected consumer goods, they pollute the roadside of our lives. I have the feeling in these encounters with people who “understand” my ‘realities’ that I sometimes state the obvious in order to give frameworks to those I encounter. One needs to have common bases to enter into the dance of living with open eyes.

The baths are warm and with their cemented tubs difficult to lay in a stable position. Added blocks of rocks allow you to settle in the correct immersed position so your head is cool and the body fully warm. This in a position whereby you can talk and exchange.


Tania's group

4 hours go by fast when you’re in the womb of the baths. The very light sulfur in the water cleaned us to the bones. So we decided to leave before the night and stores closed. Tania’s group joined us so we could drop them at the beginning of the road where they had left their car. On the way back the ‘old’ ones stayed behind to talk and continue to share. Subjects like that good sex and real freedom take time to discover. Once discovered they are shared only by a few and it is nice to meet another that has walked these paths.

We bombed down the road, shopped at the next village for beer & whiskey then to the general store for the food where I found avocados to make a guacamole dip next day. After the climb back to camp Hugo was happy to see us and we to be ‘home’. Large Tortillas and beans with cheese and spices made a great Dana diner. Mike & Pascal took out the guitars and whiskey bottle and played a couple of buffs. All went to bed early around 9:15 to 10pm.

Day – 4 – welcome to the void

The group is coming together. Dana at the kitchen, Peter dishwashing, Hugo in various eclectic participations and Pascal pitching in wherever it seems useful. Micheal is a welcoming smiling host with a gentle way with all things. We played the guitar and shared a few buffs with pleasure. Peter is slowly joining in, always in his reserved ways, paying attention and not getting implicated when it is not necessary. It is cold, minus a few degrees at night and up to 15 in the day in the sun. In the morning the wind blows from the valley, and then mid day it shifts to start coming down the mountain. Weather changes every 15 minutes from dry to rain, sun to cloud cover and all accompanied by abrupt changes in temperatures.


Hot meals for cold weather

As there is nothing to do, the morning breakfast is welcome and sends each one to his chosen tasks after breakfast. Pascal goes fishing while the others are either trying to get something done for Mike’s place (planting trees Dana brought as a present for example) or quietly in a book or individual activity such as bird watching for Hugo. I’m interested in seeing how this will evolve over the next few days. Already this morning Hugo was trying

Digging a (rock) garden for Mike

to see if we could move up the date of departure. Date that is still not fixed in stone since we now all depend on Mike who has not committed as yet. It looks as if we’ll be heading for Revelstoke Friday, staying saturday to repack and visit with Mike’s parents and then heading out Sunday. Will we start May 1st? Only the weather and those who make decisions know, for my part I consider that the trip has started and that the essential human experience of the trip is already in the making. Interesting to see 4 of the 5 present and how they deal with delay, non focussed activity and their identifying their place in the group.

Very few thoughts of a personal nature are shared. We talk mainly about the matters at hand and the trip but not dealing with the issues or organizational matters. After diner the time was empty, a couple of buffs with Michael and then Dana started a bonfire where progressively the group migrated to. The attraction of fire is a primal urge that gives us a feeling of power, perhaps why men are more attracted to making fires while women tend to hover around it as a secure place to be.

This time is a holding space to prepare mentally for the Mountains part of the M2M trip.

Possibly we’ll find a void-holding time at each passage of a section of the trip. Our initial hold time at Mike’s before the start point. Then another once in the Rivers & Lakes region and a last one to make time before the great lakes. A space where the kind of sharing has a non focussed quality. This helps reveal each of our personalities and at the same time build the ‘community’. The M2M Team is being born. Will we need to be reborn at each passage? Questions, many questions, are what each of us has running in his head about the trip. A good reason to avoid speaking about the trip. No use imagining this journey, it both has started and is yet to come. The void is a nest for preparing the group.

Day – 5 – Hello explorers

Today we went up to Mike’s place. Perched on a mountain side in a valley where you have to take the ferry from Revelstoke to get to 500yards from his covered camper and fireplace. We expect to stay there until Mike can organize our transport to Saskatchewan River Junction, our starting place.

Mike's home on the hill

Toronto to Revelstoke with food drop offs in the middle all in 3 days and a half. Tired but in shape, we were happy to get the team together at last. They saw frozen lakes and much snow on the way up here, the eastern side is truly still in winter and we had better wait a few days before launching the expedition. A few days rest and getting acclimated in the mountains will do us good while we wait for the eastern side to discover that spring has arrived.


Up the valley to Mike's place

The arrival at Mike’s place tested each one’s ability to carry uphill heavy bags and this through the snow, at times up to the knees. The camera bag and generator seemed heavy but we can’t do without them. Dana has found a use for the camera bag, it holds down one of the tent awnings. Thanks for the sunny day at arrival, it allowed us to camp on relatively dry ground.

Hugo shows cheese for sandwitch

Hot noodles and cheese for diner, cut up potatoes with eggs for breakfast and hot cheese sandwiches for lunch … 5 men on top of a mountain with time on their hands.

Pascal’s blog

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