Louis-Étienne Prévost

Today’s title comes from something that inspired Kamille.

It’s our first “true” typical expedition day and that involves breakfast, packing up camp, canoeing on the water, going over rapids and white water—hopefully having read them ahead of time to ensure safe passage—lunch on the way, setting up camp for the night, making dinner, eating, and, finally, going to bed.

Happy Birthday, Jesse!

We wake up to the sound of Marie-Michelle’s ukulele and because we have just over 18 km to cover today, a slightly simpler breakfast is served: cereal with yogurt and oranges.

The group is rather efficient in taking their tents apart and loading up the canoes and we’re ready relatively early. But, before we get on the water, we need to check off a rather important activity. We take the portage trail to have a look at the rapid from below so that we can determine what the best route will be to go over it, a route that minimizes the risks and the number of manoeuvres needed. Heading back up we do another reading to confirm our initial observations. We’re lucky this morning, there’s an easy path to take on the left of the river. It’ll be fun!

Good first experience: everyone does quite well, even if one of the teams ends up with the front of their canoe pointing up to the sky. Less than a kilometre away, there’s another rapid, so we go over the same steps. We’ll read it before trying to pass it.

Amy, who knows the Spanish River quite well, comments that there’s an additional obstacle this year: a tree has fallen and must be avoided on the river. Canoeists call this type of manoeuvre a “strainer”. Having seen the obstacle, everyone moves away from it. Another lesson learned.

A rather calm section follows with small white-water sections that don’t pose much of a challenge.

Before going over a rapid or white water, the guides remind everyone that in these conditions, helmets are mandatory, even if the section of the river looks easy. I’m pretty sure that in a day or so the participants will no longer need this reminder.

We stop on the way close to a train stop that brought us here. We set up on the other side of the river. We’re lucky to be served an excellent noodle salad for lunch.

Since heading out, the mosquitos and flies have been insatiable, and even more so at lunch time.

As the afternoon goes on, we paddle over a few short white-water sections and a large calm-water section. We take a break on the water; we tie up the front of all the canoes and Marie-Michelle invites us to take part in another Foundation tradition: a song without words that goes back to a summer expedition on Ellesmere Island in the year 2000.

Eighteen kilometres later, we arrive at our destination. A large, beautiful campsite with lots of space to go around. We definitely won’t feel like sardines tossed on top of each other here.

Even if we spent part of the day paddling through showers, after the daily tasks are completed, many members of the group give in and head out for a swim. It’s amazingly refreshing and even the mosquito and fly bites appear less annoying afterwards.

Jesses receives a birthday card signed by all the expedition members. The guides have prepared a special desert of cookies covered in chocolate, marshmallows and Rice Krispies. It was all placed in a pot lined with parchment paper, carefully cooked on the campfire and voilà.

Since it’s been a good day for everyone overall, I’m off. See you tomorrow!


Louis-Étienne Provost

Volunteer photographer-blogger for the On the Tip of the Toes Foundation

Translated by Anna Tomczyk