Before tackling 43 kilometres of river along the Trans Canada Trail’s Chief Whitecap Waterway, I had a solid 15 minutes of paddle boarding experience.
A 2-day trip down the South Saskatchewan River on a paddle board sounded like an incredible adventure, but to be completely honest, when the trip was suggested by former Saskatchewanderer Ashlyn George, I thought she was crazy. In fact, the word impossible was the first thing that came to mind.
It turns out that this trip was the furthest thing from impossible. With next to no paddling experience—but plenty of tips and advice from Marcus and Johnny at Escape Sports in Saskatoon—we paddled/floated our way from a takeoff point at the Whitecap Dakota First Nation to downtown Saskatoon.
We had 2 days to complete the trip, that surprisingly enough, could have been completed in 1. We had a late start the first day (1:00pm takeoff) and took our sweet time down the river that afternoon, capturing plenty of photos and stopping along the sandy shores for snack breaks.
About 3/4 of the way back to Saskatoon we spotted a picturesque island that could have easily been mistaken for a tropical island, and decided to set up camp for the night.
For most of the paddle, the weather was in our favour, although we did have to battle some serious wind for a few hours of the journey—I’m talking SERIOUS Saskatchewan wind… like if we stopped paddling we would’ve ended up back where we started!
TIP: If you end up paddling against a Saskatchewan hurricane, try staying as close to the shore as you can. It helps… a little bit.
If you’re feeling extra adventurous, you can take on the longer version of this journey by starting at Gardiner Dam. From Gardiner Dam to Saskatoon (over 100 kilometres) is the full stretch of the Chief Whitecap Waterway—the only Trans Canada Water Trail in Saskatchewan (http://chiefwhitecapwaterway.ca/). If you choose to attempt this bucket list paddle, I would recommend at least 3 days to get from one end to the other.
We rented all our gear—boards, paddles, pumps and dry bags—from Escape Sports in Saskatoon (http://escapesports.ca/). The staff at Escape Sports have a wealth of outdoor adventure knowledge! They are extremely helpful and happy to make recommendations on where to start your trip and where to camp along the way. I can honestly say, we couldn’t have done this trip without their help.
Escape Sports can be found using your Mysask411 app: https://goo.gl/ZPspvS
For more information on the trip, check out the write-up Ashlyn created for Tourism Saskatoon here: http://saskatooning.com/2017/08/04/need-know-paddling-chief-whitecap-waterway/
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If you’re interested in a paddle boarding adventure of your own, feel free to email me with any questions at email@example.com