This Friday’s challenge: our longest day with over 20 km to cover. Let’s hope Mother Nature will cooperate. It’s the second-last day on the river, and the team should be ready to face it.

A grey morning awaits us at sunrise for this second-last day on the water. Since the high level of the river takes away our choices, there’s a good challenge ahead of us; nothing excessive but an interesting challenge for people who, only a week ago, had little or no rowing or camping experience.

To prepare for it, yoga/stretching session. Marie-Ève initiates the round and then everyone does to their favourite move or, otherwise, the one they remember.

Catherine calls out the day’s teams under everyone’s applause. My teammate is Cooper.

All the barrels and bags are already and by the riverbanks and choosing the canoes and loading them is done as if we had the experience of several weeks. No wasted time.

As we leave, the first challenge: sandbanks block the passage almost completely; some pass to the left of the island and must either walk or slalom between the sandbanks. Two teams take “the path less travelled by” and do much better because that is where the deeper water vein is. Everyone ends up on the other side. It’s like in life: everyone chooses their own path.

After crossing white water, which is listed as R1 on the map, we arrive at a site completely different from what we have seen so far: a beach of round rocks. It is more difficult to find a comfortable place to sit there.

From our beach we can see an overturned vehicle on the left side of the river, while the road is on the right bank. Amateur detectives conclude that the vehicle probably fell at the end of winter and that the flood had it cross the river.

It rains, and then not…. On and off. And this goes on during lunch. Maxime caught a pike this morning, and we share it during lunchtime.

The showers continue all afternoon but do not affect the spirit of the group.

A few small areas of white water keep us on our toes. Samuel and Cooper even have the chance to experience a real stream revival after a break behind a rock while waiting for the others.

To take a reflective break in the afternoon, we gather all the canoes into one single raft and Marie-Ève suggests that we listen to nature for a minute. We are really close to the road, which we cannot see but hear very well. It is therefore after the passage of a few trucks that the listening session can be experienced and, as if on command, we drift in front of a babbling stream. What a pretty sound!

An otter appears close by and a few teams have the chance to see it as it dives. Kara repeats her mantra: “Nature! am I right guys!”

Finally, we arrive at our site after 25 km on the water. Access to the site is more complicated and a human chain is formed to get all the equipment out of the canoes. This is done in no time, and it is the same for setting up camp. The group is in its performance phase, would say a teacher specializing in group dynamics.

Keanen caught a pike this afternoon. More fish appetizers for supper.

Let’s back up in time a bit: Last night during the mid-expedition discussion, many participants highlighted the quality of the meals which is way over what was expected. That is also adventure.

Sorry for you guys, but I must stop. It’s 8 p.m. and time for supper.

–  Louis-Étienne Prévost, Blogger and Photographer for the On the Tip of the Toes Foundation