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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Geo...Voyageur!

Just been back one day and already on grand adventures :)

Last night we went on a canoe excursion, complete with delicious food in the middle.
What a way to start back after holidays :)

The Meewasin Valley authority has 2 hour canoe excursions starting from the nearby Beaver Creek Conservation Area that go up the South Saskatchewan river in a 10 person canoe, and stop briefly at the Berry Barn for supper and dessert before canoeing back to Beaver Creek. The weather was sunny, clear and beautiful. We went with some people J works with - they were shooting a segment on the Meewasin valley summer canoe education program. They take non-profit groups, school trips, and private bookings on educational canoe trips on the South Saskatchewan River...and it is a fantastic way to spend an evening.

The Saskatoon area set up the Meewasin (the Cree word for beautiful) Valley Authority many years ago to conserve the natural and cultural heritage resources of the South Saskatchewan River Valley in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan and area. It's a non-profit group has programs and projects in river valley education, development and conservation. Meewasin is based in Saskatoon and runs approximately 60 km along the river through Saskatoon from Pike Lake in the southwest to Clarke's Crossing in the northeast. It encompasses conservation areas, parks, museums, interpretive centres, the university lands, canoe launches, community links, and over 60 km of Meewasin Trail. Including the South Saskatchewan River, there are 25 square miles in the Meewasin conservation zone.

We drove out about 20 minutes to Beaver Creek about 5:30 and after some shooting and interviews we hiked down to the river basin to pick up our paddles and life jackets and hop in the canoes. This year the river is extremely low - it's about 3 metres lower than usual - there has been very little runoff from the mountains this year and not a lot of rain to make up for it, so it was a bit of creative canoeing to get across and down the river to go around all the newly formed sand bars in the river. We had an informative hike on the way there and then a beautiful relaxing canoe ride upstream. It was about a 40 minute canoe ride up to our destination - the beach at the Berry Barn.

I've never been canoeing on such a big river before - as a kid I went on canoe trips in the Qu'Appelle Valley river system and far up up north by La Ronge and Missinipe and Otter Lake through some old friends of my parents ...we have a canoe at our cabin too, but I've never been on such a big river...it was beautiful. It was easy paddling with 10 people in the canoe (9 of us + a guide) - there were 2 boats full of us. We got to see the nests of swallows burrowing in the riverbank, beaver dams and the occasional happy gopher hopping around on the river bank. We also saw a few of the rare slowly extinguishing cottonwood trees on the prairies...since the Diefenbaker Dam was built the cottonwoods have been dying off on the prairies...they need a minimum level of water at their base to produce seeds, and the water levels are not what they once were anymore...so slowly they are dying off. A few remain along the riverbank and there are initiatives to try and get them to seed by altering the water levels in the areas where some clusters of them remain, but it is just another case of man mucking about too much with nature before considering the consequences...it will be a shame to someday not see them on the horizon. The Meewasin authority exists to educate people about this kind of thing...to remind us how to be better stewards of our home.

After our ride up river we stopped at the Berry Barn for dessert/supper...it was delicious. The Berry Barn is a little pick your own fruit place a little ways outside Saskatoon with a "charming" little restaurant and gift shop with beautiful greenspace and picnic areas...the kind of place my parents would go gaga over. It was a beautiful evening...we sat and had yummy food and watched the river. I had cheddar mushroom chowder in a bread bowl...MMMMMM. Some of us had pie or dessert...others had supper. It was all yummeriness. Then after a little walk about, we hopped back in the canoe and paddled back to Beaver Creek.

The way back was nice, as we were paddling with the current. The sun was setting over the riverbank and the colours spread out all over the water and the sky...I can't even describe how beautiful it was. We got back to Beaver Creek to drop of four paddles and jackets just as the sky got quite dark, and we were on our way home by 10. The guides and staff at Meewasin had so much information to give us about the area, their program and even the odd pirate joke here and there to lighten the mood. It was a great evening :)

And sadly - do I have pictures? No. My camera batteries are dead from the camping trip we just got back from. I know - I know. Noone else remembered a camera either...just the progear got shots. If J grabs any stills from the segment they cut together I will post them. If you peek at the Meewasin website there are a few photos, but it doesn't begin to do the area justice. I live in a beautiful place...watching the sunset over the calm river is indeed a beautiful way to end the day...

(Yes I know I've used the word beautiful about 60 times...but really-it was)

And yes, when I can get a few minutes and get some photos off the camera I'll post about my wonderful holiday in the woods too. Oh yeah-it was all that and a cupcake. I just had such a good time last night I had to pop in and say hiya and tell you all about it.

Now....back to the lab. :)

Have a great day :)

2 comments:

the Bag Lady said...

Oh, that sounds like a lovely trip. As long as someone else is along to help paddle.
Will we see you on TV?

diddums said...

There are photos of what it's like to hide in the woods? Looking forward to them. :-)