Monday, September 9, 2013


I finally broke down and purchased a canoe on Aug 16 2013. I do believe I have canoed every weekend since. It's something I've been talking and thinking about for quite some time now. It's nothing special, just a cheap old starter unit. A Coleman explorer 166. Sounds like an important canoe, but probably almost bottom of the line. Someday, when I finally learn what I really want, I will shovel out a little more money to the cause. I do like this one so far though. The first place my canoeing partner and I went with it was Swan Lake, Alberta, just to kind of get the feel of things a bit, and do a little fishing. There are actually a lot of Swan lakes, but this one is situated a little south west of Debolt, Aberta. We had a pretty good time, but it did take a little getting used to it. Seems pretty tippy. lol. But we stayed afloat.
    The next weekend, we loaded up and went for a drive out the other direction. Thought we'd try Spring Lake, but at the last minute, we decided to drive right by that one and try a creek that I knew about up past Spring lake about 10 Kilometers. We have tried a lake and wanted something different. The above photo is Boone Creek. Just a narrow little creek, but very peaceful and scenic.
  All was going very well, until we came across our first beaver dam to portage. Then the second one, and the third. It wound up being 5 or 6 beaver dams in total, although most was just a matter of sliding the canoe over them. Two needed to actually be portaged a bit. The above picture shows the longest portage as we actually skipped a pretty good chunk of the creek before putting back in again.
It was a fair bit of work at times, but the end result was quite rewarding. We made it into Jackfish Lake. (There are more than one Jackfish lakes in Alberta, this one is north of Hythe, Alberta).  I'm not sure, but I really think that canoe or airplane just might be the only way into the lake. One day I would like to get rigged for camping and spend a day or two on this lake and in this area. I almost forgot to mention that I did just about dump Jo-Anne and myself into the creek just before the mouth of the lake. We had just finished skidding the canoe over the last small beaver dam, and I was pushing off and jumping in. I guess I got a little over confident. The side of the canoe dipped pretty far in, and we took on a lot of water. I was actually quite amazed that we managed to recover it before going right over. lol. Jo-Anne had and instant new look and words that I have never seen or heard from her before. It was actually quite funny after the thought.
Ok, so now we are getting tired of lakes and creeks and we decide that it is time to check out our first river together. Apparently Jo-Anne has done a little river run once. We came up with the idea to try the  Smoky River and do some camping on the weekend. So we got everything all ready to roll finally. We needed two vehicles for this one. We dropped the Dodge off at the riverstone golf course which is north east of TeePee Creek, Alberta.  Then proceeded to the Hiway 43 crossing of the Smoky river, just East of Bezanson, with the canoe and camper. It was already getting dark by the time we pulled onto the shore of the Smoky to set up camp for the night. We didn't know how long it would take to complete our journey, so we wanted to get an early start. I didn't sleep a wink all night. lol. Had just a little too much on my mind.  
The morning came, we made a lunch and breakfast and started getting the canoe all ready to roll. I was pretty excited. This was all new for me. The Smoky is pretty good sized river, and for the most part was moving along pretty good,and even better where it narrowed up. There were river boats we had to try to stay out of the way of etc, but it all did go well. It was a very nice trip. We loaded the canoe up at the golf course once we arrived and headed back to the camper at hiway 43. This run was about 34 kilometers according to my GPS trip odometer. At times the river would take us along at 4 km/hr and other times through some of the narrow areas we would be moving along 14-15 km/hr. In the photos the water looks pretty still, but usually when the rougher water does come along we are busy putting the cameras etc away in a safe spot just incase. We seem to have more important things to do other than taking pictures at times. lol. We did good for the first time.  
We cooked supper on the fire that night. It don't take a real large fire to cook a steak, as long as the coals are nice and hot.
The next day a long time friend of mine brought his canoe out to join us on a run from the Simonette River Campground to the Hiway 43 Smoky bridge where we are camped. The Simonette river eventually runs into the Smoky. It was one of my favorite runs so far. The river is quite a lot smaller than the Smoky, but does have a few challenging and fun drops and minor rapids and shallow rocky bottoms in places. In the above pic, it is very calm as we let the canoes slowly drift toward havoc. lol. We survived, but if you look closely you can see interesting stuff coming up on us slowly. There were quite a few spots where we had to be on the ball.
A little later on, we decided to do a little fishing before coming into the Smoky. I caught one. I have never caught this kind of fish before, but later on we decided it must have been a mountain whitefish. I let it go. If it were a walleye of the keeper size, I would have cooked it up that night for supper.
Once we got back to the camper, and recovered the trucks at our put in on the Simonette, Jo-Anne had other things going on and had to leave. She took the Dodge home and left me with the camper and canoe.  So Wade and I cooked some supper up and visited for awhile until he went home also. They deserted me. lol. Oh well. It's free camping, so I wasn't in a hurry to leave. I do still have a lot of hermit in me and can enjoy my time alone.  
The next day I went over to Swan Lake over by Debolt again. This was the first place I ever tried the old canoe out.  It was such a nice day. I took my time and eventually paddled around the whole lake. With lots of just sitting and relaxing going on.
I should say WE paddled around the lake. I guess I wasn't so alone after all. Traction really seems to like this kind of life.
 Anyway, so this last weekend Jo-Anne and I went on a new journey. I had my mom drop us off at Pipestone creek campground on the Wapiti River. , and we paddled to Magoos landing which is about 7 Kilometers down from the Hiway 40 bridge to the Weyhauser road crossing. I'm guessing this one was a total of 34 kms also, but I forgot to set the gps trip odometer to zero at first, so I don't know for sure, but that should be close.  This river here seemed to be our biggest challenge yet. There was a lot of calm and then rough and windy, a lot of river boats to contend with. There was one point where we could have dumped it in the some fairly fast water, but we managed to keep it afloat.
We did manage to slow down and take time to rest and roast some wieners on this run. I love the canoeing, but may be due for a bit of a break and maybe work on the house a bit more. But maybe not too. I am having way too much fun lately.
The end of that journey. If we had kept on going down the Wapiti, we would need a pretty good day and the river would take us to the Smoky where we camped the previous weekend. The Wapiti runs into the Smoky a little bit before where the Simonette runs into the Smoky. For that matter, if I were to just keep on going on the Smoky, it would eventually run into the Peace River, which would run into the Slave river, then into the Mackenzie River through Great Slave Lake, right out into the Arctic Ocean. Of course there would be some major portages along the way, such as the Vermillion Chutes south of John Dor Prairie for one. I find rivers and streams to be very fascinating and do someday want to venture along on a multi day jouney of some type. Not sure if I really need to go to the Arctic ocean or not, but you just never know.
            I have worked on the main deck of my house a little lately, and do plan to put up a new post on that one soon. Sorry I have been so quiet lately, just been enjoying life a lot lately. Even before the canoe came in to play, I have spent a lot of time camping at various different places. I do feel the need to start getting a little production on the house before winter, I hope. Awwwww what's the hurry though, it's quite liveable I think. Others seem to have a different opinion though.  


  1. Wow Mark that's great!! Glad to see you are finally taking some time for canoeing. The pics are awesome, and the trip sounds like so much fun. Thanks for sharing! :)

    1. Thanks Jeanie. I knew canoeing was always something I wanted to get into, and now that I have got started I just can't seem to quit. It's beautiful. This weekend we went out to Musreau Lake and intentionally capsized the canoe in the lake just to see how we would handle something like that, as a buddy of mine had his powerboat out there to watch over us. lol. It was spooky and cold, but at the same time, it was a lot of fun.

  2. Great idea to practice when there is help close by Mark! Bet that water was coooold. lol

    1. Yes that water was very, very cold Jeanie. lol. But you do seem to get used to it once the shock of it fades a bit. I'm glad we practiced. I have a feeling that if I didn't have a boat there watching I just may have panicked. Now I have a lot more knowledge about it. Being submerged in a cold and windy lake isn't on my list of favorite things to do, but we have had some close calls of tipping over in the past, so it's probably just a matter of time before it actually happens. Now we know how to deal with it if it does happen sometime. I feel a lot more confident. We actually managed to tip the canoe back up, bail it out, and get back in it on our own without having to be rescued. Life is good.

  3. You did have some great summer fun on the water. We haven't used our two person sea kayak in quite a while. But we have to go where no portages are needed. It is way to heavy to lug around, even for two of us. - Margy

  4. It was fun Margy. Something I've always wanted to do and finally got around to it. I have to agree with you on the portages. They do suck.

  5. great blog! I really enjoyed reading through your experiences. It is also really encouraging to find someone else who is on the same path as my family! Great work!
    Check out my blog:

    1. Thanks Eva. I had quick look at your blog and it looks like one I would like to see more of. I sure do like the off grid life myself.