As my Moose Network group made our way through interior British Columbia, we stopped in a tiny town called Revelstoke. I can’t help but let my imagination run wild with that name. “Stoke” is a popular word used in our Matador Network daily email threads when we receive positive feedback on something, and when something is deserving of praise (check out senior editor David Miller’s Stoke Land). Revelstoke is apparently filled with stoke.
Situated around the Kootenay Rockies, Revelstoke is also home to the powerful Columbia River where the group and I spent a few hours kayaking with a family business named Natural Escapes. A mom-and-daughter duo greeted us along the river’s edge where the water reflected the sky with barely a ripple.
Natural Escapes’ fleet of kayaks are all handcrafted with wood. It took 120 hours of dedicated work to create each vessel, and each one is adorned with a personalized Nordic theme. Mine was named the Alfheim, “Elf house.” I wanted to paddle in the Viking Princess but the guides merely smiled at me. I felt like I was being subjected to Harry Potter’s Sorting Hat.
I hadn’t kayaked in a single-person canoe before, and I was ill at ease for the first few minutes. After a quick lesson, we all paddled happily around the river beneath the backdrop of the mountains obscured by clouds. The day was perfect, with hardly a breath of wind, and lazy turtles sunned themselves on logs around the river’s edge. Not a sign of movement came from the beaver’s den hidden under the branches of trees hanging into the river. I paused to watch a Great Blue Heron strutting around the marshland when suddenly a deer crossed the expanse of river with a few quick bounds. My video camera, tucked into my lifejacket in hopes of recording something spectacular, only captured my screams of glee.
Really, I prefer destroying a perfectly idyllic moment as often as possible, especially with harsh cries of “DID YOU SEE THAT DEER?!” Try it when you’re in a car sometime.
By the time I got the hang of paddling to and fro, it was time to head back for our lunches. Instead, I kept darting back and forth between the dock and the opposite side of the river, manoeuvring Alfheim with all the arrogance of someone with two hours of kayaking experience, and avoiding land until eventually my Moose guide shook her fist and mouthed “stop being an asshole” at me. Alas, I could have spent much longer on that water.
Time to start whittling my own kayak.