A Beginner’s Guide to Pulling Off a Wilderness Paddling Expedition

There’s no higher time than now to dream about your subsequent wilderness expedition. However dreaming is simple; making the leap to actuality is a greater problem. Two latest northern journeys reveal completely completely different methods to execute the journey of your goals. 

Vancouver-based filmmaker Dianne Whelan’s ongoing mission is trekking Canada’s Great Trail, a 15,000-mile epic that features a number of prolonged paddling sections, in addition to mountaineering and biking. The artist Whelan, whose earlier Mount Everest Base Camp project headlined the celebrated Banff Movie Pageant, merely put her life on maintain—for 5 years—to journey underneath her personal energy from coast to coast to coast. In the meantime, Halifax, Nova Scotia-based adventurer and YouTuber Noah Sales space, joined three mates—all underneath 35 years previous and tied down by skilled careers—in saving and negotiating trip time to full an bold five-week canoe expedition across Labrador final summer season. Each adventurers supply tried and true suggestions to stay by in turning goals to actuality. 

Courtesy Dianne Whelan


After her award-winning Everest mission, Whelan was on the lookout for one thing nearer to residence to reignite her artistic imaginative and prescient. She discovered it in embarking on a cross-Canada journey, with an overarching theme rising as she juxtaposed her experiences with these of indigenous Canadians alongside the way in which. When she departed St. John’s, Newfoundland in 2015, Whelan’s preliminary timeline was mirrored within the title of her mission: 500 Days in the Wild. Now, as she prepares to enter her fifth yr on the path, Whelan admits, “Honestly, I’ve lost track of the days.” 

In the meantime, Sales space and his childhood pal, Alex Traynor, have been difficult themselves with longer and tougher wilderness canoe journeys since they launched their Northern Scavenger social platform in 2016. Labrador was the following large step. “It has the feel of a lost world,” says Sales space, 28. “It’s one of the last untouched places in Canada.” They recruited veteran 34-year-old northern traveler Dave Greene and Chris Giard, 24. In scouring the journals of the late Canadian solo tripper Herb Pohl the group focused the little recognized Mistastin River in a 525-mile transit of the Labrador peninsula, ending on the North Atlantic. 

Alex Traynor and crew, deep in Labrador


Being a skilled impartial filmmaker grants Whelan loads of free time, however it additionally makes her reliant on arts funding to assist her work—an infinite effort that consumes a lot of her downtime, and requires her to full brief documentary tasks alongside the way in which. Such are the realities of a full-time artist. For Sales space, a geologist with a full-time job, Nova Scotia, a five-week canoe journey demanded a completely different type of sacrifice. “I realized that the older I get, the less ability I will have to make something like this happen,” he says. “I’m in a serious relationship, we’re going to buy a house soon and there’s the possibility of kids. I made the canoe trip a priority and carved out the time to make it happen.”


Sales space’s group rapidly realized that the north takes no prisoners. Fixed rain and chilly temperatures dominated the primary three weeks of the Labrador journey. In the meantime, different hardships included a bout of dysentery, a chipped tooth and almost shedding a canoe on the rock-studded higher Mistastin River. “I thought we would have to be evacuated three times!” Sales space laughs. Wilderness journey calls for endurance and warning. “When faced with anything sketchy, you could significantly decrease the risk if you just practice patience,” advises Sales space. “That means waiting out a storm, scouting rapids, watching your footing on the portage are absolute necessities.”

Whelan is the primary to admit she’s no outside athlete, and so she is “constantly making decisions to err on the side of caution,” trusting her instinct to hear to the land. “The journey has taught me a lot about surrendering and finding the calm in accepting adverse circumstances,” she says. “When you face a difficult moment you don’t go to that place of panic. You just stay calm.”


Whelan invested in a Kokatat Meridian drysuit and insists that it’s a key margin of security on chilly northern waters—notably as a result of lots of her paddling miles have been made within the shoulder seasons, and he or she’s usually traveling alone. The Labrador group confronted extra portages—a blended bag of rugged, amphibious terrain that challenges even essentially the most sturdy attire. The settled on Kotatat Hydrus 3 Tempest pants as a glad medium—defending the decrease physique whereas permitting extra mobility for overland journey. Sales space additionally alludes to a second secret weapon. “We had a meal rotation with each guy supplying nine days of food,” he says. “Dave was the only one who packed two chocolate bars per person. Turns out those were always the best days of the trip.”

Whela_Great Slave
Whelan, having fun with nothing however time alone on the Northwest Territories’ Great Slave Lake. Courtesy Dianne Whelan


At any time when Whelan takes a break from the Nice Path and returns to town, she’s struck by the stark disconnection she feels from the pure world. The sensation was most profound final December, when she returned residence for the winter after canoeing 3,000 miles within the wild Mackenzie River watershed in Canada’s far north. “There’s just something about living that way,” she says. “Having that kind of freedom, being responsible, leaving in the morning and not knowing where your campsite will be …You’re always looking at the ground, at the water and at the clouds. There’s a real connection with the physical environment and it activates a very ancient part of who we are.”

Sales space’s best revelation got here after his group endured all of the chilly rain, relentless bugs, well being issues and shut calls, and made it to Mistastin Lake, the headwaters of his mystical river. “There was this amazing sunset,” he recollects. “All of the hardships evaporated that very moment. It was surreal.”  


Sales space and Traynor have spent the winter reliving their epic Labrador journey by reviewing and modifying numerous hours of video footage. “There’s no doubt we captured some of our best footage and this is by far the best story and wildest experience,” says Sales space. “It’s like I’m back there, reliving it every morning, evening and weekend.” The pair cut up up the modifying roles, with Traynor engaged on a documentary function that may launch on the Toronto Out of doors Journey Present on Feb. 21 (and be obtainable for pay-per-view on Vimeo) and Sales space producing a multi-episode YouTube series to debut in early March. 

Whelan faces a good bigger artistic process—one she insists will start with a month or two of down time. “The impulse is to keep up the momentum of the trip and jump right into post-production,” she says. “But I will tame that the best I can. There needs to be some time of reflection. I’ll need to spend some time with the footage, relive it in some ways, then move forward and see what gets born.”

In fact, for any adventurer, then comes the highly effective urge to do it once more. “There’s going to be a sense of being lost, after so many years of having this focus,” admits Whelan. “I’m lucky as an artist to have a back end to it. That makes me excited, but I know when I finally finish the trail it will be a bag of mixed feelings.” 

Observe Northern Scavenger on Instagram and Facebook; and comply with Dianne Whelan on Instagram and Facebook 

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