We didn’t stay long in Jasper upon our return, swiftly departing and heading East to Quebec, the Gaspe Peninsula. No GPS or map in a car crammed full of all the belongings that we could fit. Hastily scribbling a note of the largest towns along the way on a scrap piece of paper after closing the door to our Jasper apartment, we set off. 4,700km later we arrived in Matane, Quebec and have been busy ever since. It took us four days and I averaged 1,000km a day, a far cry from our days paddling when 50km was a good day!
We are now back in the ‘unreal’ world where job-hunting has kept us just as occupied as we were foraging for berries along the Mackenzie riverbank. Trying to re-enter the rat-race after such a rewarding absence has left us with a real appreciation of where we were and what we accomplished. We now live in a house just a stones-throw from one of the worlds great rivers: the Saint Lawrence and, now that I am required to become fluent in French: Le Fleuve Saint-Laurent. The French expression ‘Le Fleuve’ instead of ‘Riviere’ is wonderful, and is used for the Mackenzie River also. It is a word to describe a river larger or more expansive than a regular river. We could really sense the difference when we moved from the Athabasca River (Riviere Athabasca) and Slave River (Riviere des Esclaves) onto the Mackenzie. The St. Lawrence is no different. This time however, the river is not a Fleuve because it is long – as the Mackenzie is – but because it is so wide. Stood on the beach where we now live, we can just make out the other side of the river on the horizon. I am told (actually, Vicki was told and translated for me…) that when you can clearly see the other shore, bad weather will follow as the clarity heralds a storm or somesuch.
One of the most exciting and surprising incidents during our Expedition to the Arctic was that we were followed by a Bearded Seal very close to the canoe just as we arrived at the mouth of the Ocean. Our first walk along the beach here in Matane and a Harp Seal followed us almost the entire way which was great, such a curious animal; it would bob up and down in the water then disappear, to return shortly afterwards a little further along. I can’t wait to get out on the water and explore Le Fleuve, but this time it will probably be in kayaks and not canoe as they are far more suited to such large, open bodies of water. I am hoping to paddle amongst the whales commonly seen out on the river as we did for too brief a moment on the Arctic Ocean.
We have received some emails asking about the equipment we used both in preparation and undertaking, so, as promised we will be putting equipment reviews and a how-to for dehydrating food and how we did that, with success for the most part. A few simple recommendations from lessons we learned the hard way I am sure will help anyone looking to undertake such projects themselves.