Trip Coordinator: Alan Stewart
Nine of us Northwest Voyageurs were able to escape the tyranny of Mothers’ Day on a warm, sunny morning for this trip. We were: Melvyn Kadyk and Norma Ouellette, Gary Davidson and Isobel Lawson, Jeannette Gasser and Alan Stewart paired up in canoes. Gord Pennycook paddled his solo boat, and Karyn Murray and Patrick McCloskey were in kayaks. We must all have been super-enthusiastic as we were all early.
We met at Mewassin Church on hwy 627 west of Edmonton. Mewassin is a Cree word meaning ‘good place’. It is near the junction of a major First Nations trail along the North Saskatchewan river and another that went to the Lac Ste Anne area. Mewassin itself was an important wintering camp site with shelter from the wind and a good wood supply in the valley. Somewhere in the area there is a bone bed from times when buffalo were hunted by being driven onto the thin ice in fall, stranding them for the kill when they fell through the ice.
We put-in at the end of RR#33 on the north side of the river where there is a popular beach. I prefer to put-in and take out on the south side of the river because it makes for a much shorter shuttle at day’s end. However this year the south side put-ins are disrupted by gravel pit works and my usual take-out at the bridge isn’t available because of active bridge repair work. So we’ll take-out at Constable Chelsey Robinson Park at the end of RR#23 on the north side of the river.
We got an early start paddling and had a steady, good current. The river is wide with occasional small islands. Depending on water levels there are fewer or more gravel bars. Tree trunks and roots stuck in the river are common, but these are easily avoided obstacles.
During an ‘elevenses’ break we decided to leave the main river channel, taking the first of two smaller channels on river right around two large islands. The first channel (at B on map) is the smaller of the two and should be passable at ‘normal’ water levels. It is a pleasant change from the much bigger main channel. The first and second channels meet about halfway around the islands. The second channel (at C on map) is the larger of the two and should be passable at all but the very lowest water levels.
Back on the main channel we had a lunch stop shared with an aquarian garter snake that emerged from under our lunch-log, worked it’s way across the gravel bar and took to the river. Back on the river ourselves, we paddled around Devil’s Elbow where the cliff bank on river-left has a panoply of earth-colours: browns and red-browns, whites, greys and blue-greys, all leftover deposits on the bottom of a postglacial lake. The upper part of the cliff is very popular with the bank swallows.
After a last stop to eat Mel’s marvelous melon we paddled on, testing eddy-turns, sweeping under the bridge. and on to the park and take out. Then the inevitable shuttle and wearily home again ending a perfect day on the water.
Many thanks to Gord for morning boat transportation and to Patrick for shuttle back-up. Attached photos are by Gord.