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#37 Paddling Pic: A Favourite Memory

#37a. Little Nahanni River, NWT. 1983.

#37b. Coulonge, Québec. 2009 photo Harry Nowell

For our final Paddling Pic(s) we don't go out with either a bang or a whimper. Just a salute to the 2 best paddling partners/pals I could every want. I spent much of my first 25 years canoeing with and learning from my Dad. And for the last 37 (and yes, it's also pic # 37...coincidence?) paddling all over the world with Reid. Sadly they only overlapped for 5 of those years. Although we did some trips and paddled together I can't find a good pic of the three of us on the river, so for our last entry you get two pics for one!

I don't think that I could ever put into words all of my thoughts and feelings for these two cornerstones of not just my paddling career, but my entire life. But then, that's what pictures are for!

I will leave you with a final trivial but humourous little story from the first trip we all did together. It was on the Petawawa in the spring of '83. Dad was taking some friends down the river. I decided to tag along with Reid to get him introduced to whitewater. He was very excited about coming. Although an excellent flat-water paddler he had never been in moving water and was anticipating a thrilling adventure. He also admitted to me later that he was very keen to share a tent with me! He was 19 after all and we were head over heels in love. The first night we landed at our favourite beach campsite on Travers and started making camp. Reid and I took a while putting up the Baker tent. He just couldn't figure out why we needed all the ropes and he kept making Spiderman jokes as we wove the complex web of guy wires. Inside we set up a cosy nest of bedding and then headed to the campfire for dinner. The group discussed what was coming the next day, we traded paddling stories and shared typical campfire banter. Finally it was time to turn in. Reid let me go in first and, as is his wont, he stayed out listening to the night, wanting to be the last one to bed. He later told me he had been anticipating this moment all day. Our Baker tent glowed from the light of the candle lantern. He carefully navigated through the ropes and nervously drew back the screening. There I was snuggled in all cosy-warm in our little nest. And there was my Dad firmly planted beside me, smack-dab in the middle of the tent! I gave Reid a smile, he gave me a sly raise of an eyebrow and we all settled in for the night. Later Reid realised how truly fortunate he was; after all there are people who would have paid a great deal of money to share a tent with Bill Mason! But at the time Reid did not see it that way at all. 😄

It was of course a great trip with lots of laughs, excitement and even a swamp and swim for us. It's a favourite memory of mine. My two best paddling pals: one gone but always with me, and one that I will spend the rest of my life with, paddling, dreaming and reminiscing.

This is the last of our daily Paddling Pics. Reid and I have enjoyed sharing our images and stories during these Covid Days, and hope you have too. Maybe it will inspire you to share your own paddling tales.

And Happy Paddling, whenever you think the time is right to go back out on the water!

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