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#18 Paddling Pic: It's My Dad's Birthday

#18 Little Nahanni River, NWT. 1983

Today my Dad would have turned 91! I know that Bill Mason was an inspiration and mentor to so many, just as he was to me, but really, for me he was always "Dad". This trip with him on the Little and South Nahanni Rivers was pivotal for me. The Little Nahanni is very challenging and technical and was an exploratory trip for us. In other words no one on our trip had ever run this tributary to the South Nahanni and there was very little information on it. It was a formative trip for me because I was going to be guiding trips in the north that summer and Dad thought that I should paddle stern to get experience in big water. Looking back I am so impressed that he had so much confidence in me; neither of us fully understood what was to come on that river but we safely navigated those crazy blind corners and Class III+ rapids, not to mention putting on bandannas, wetting down our hats, and paddling through a canyon with a forest fire exploding all around us. It was a wild ride. I still miss my Dad. I think of him every day. His enthusiasm was magnetic, his energy boundless and his faith in Paul and me, and in the good of all people was absolute. Happy birthday Dad.

About Today's Paddling Pic: These last few days and weeks I've found myself looking back on some wonderful memories and images of where canoeing has taken me, and it's made me smile. I feel so fortunate and grateful for these places, people and experiences, and it's kind of nice to reminisce. And in doing so I can't help but to also look forward to a time when we can all paddle safely again! So for the next while Reid and I are posting a picture a day (with a story) that will brighten our day and hopefully yours too. I invite you to share your stories in the comment section.

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