After a 're-start' following a flip on Day 1, 17 days non-stop and roughly 800 km, Michael arrived at his first pit-stop in Prince Albert, SK on Monday. Tired but happy, Michael spent 2 nights and 2 days re-stocking supplies, meeting press, planning the next steps and rejuvenating.
Following a scary incident on Day 1 that involved flipping in the icy waters outside of Rocky Mountain House, the 2nd attempt to date has been (thankfully) uneventful, though not the most appealing waterway in the country. The river is a big muddy trench with heavy sediment and many sand bars and very few people or towns around.
In his words, "Now I understand why you don’t hear about paddling the North Saskatchewan. For the sake of scenery, I am very much looking forward to the more pristine, cleaner water of the Canadian shield”.
The highlight of the trip to date was getting to be on the water with daughter Blythe. They were met in Edmonton by a trio of wonderful friends Danny Ferguson, Paul Lorieau and James McDonald who showed up and helped them set sail. She was there for the first 3 days and it was amazing to be in her company while he got the apprehension out of his system. Of course, as anybody who knows her would expect, she was a natural and immediately showed uncanny strength and ability. Once she figured out how to paddle, she left him in her dust.It was hard to let her go after 3 days and spend the next 2 weeks alone; with the exception of a surprise visit from Danny Ferguson who tracked him on his GPS and drove 3 hours before dawn to surprise him before he crossed into Saskatchewan!
Upon arrival in Prince Albert ‘friends of friends of friends' Dwight and Pat Bergstrom - welcomed him into their home, gave him a warm shower, home-cooking, friendly faces and introduced him to a host of new friends. A group of TEN distant cousins, also descendants of the McKenzie clan, led by Sharie Argue, drove all the way from Regina to meet him for the first time ever. He was toured through the city by Gord Thompson who invited him to a breakfast club and to meet the Chief of Police who has recently launched a city-wide initiative to improve local youth programmes through sports. These friends become a lifeline after 2 weeks alone and in the elements.
In his words “Everybody here has been so open and welcoming and outgoing. It has been marvellous for my soul. A real breath of fresh air.”
As prophesized by Michael himself, as the trip has begun to materialize, the press have begun to take him seriously! He was greeted in Saskatchewan by a local newspaper, local internet news provider, CTV news and Global TV who travelled from Saskatoon.
Prince Albert Daily Herald (front cover!) – http://bit.ly/KxcQ4j
PA NOW – http://bit.ly/LDy8Jo
La Presse - http://bit.ly/L60GKG
This morning, Michael was joined by new friend Ron Horn, owner of local outfitter Fresh Air Experience to take on the toughest part of the North Saskatchewan River from Prince Albert until it merges into the Saskatchewan River. His next projected target is La Pas, Manitoba in 8 days, which will take him through 4 different waterways including a portage around the EB Campbell Dam.
"I think a lot of people are saying, 'Well let's see if this guy is actually going to do this," Hartley said. "I think once people see that actually, this is going to happen, they'll get behind it." (Prince Albert Herald, June 6).
To date, we have raised almost $8,000 through this effort for SHLF, towards a goal of $50,000. Thank you to all who have donated! While the cause is close to Michael for obvious reasons, it is important to reiterate that 100% of donations go to the youth we support through sports and education programs.
This week, we received a letter from Ron Bergeron of the Vancouver School District saying:
"The support SHLF provides has ensured that Streetfront staff are able to continue to do what they do so well and that is working from some very vulnerable students. And yes their results are amazing not only in the marathon program but also in their academic achievement and attendance at school."
Donations are critical to ensuring this programme, and others like it, continue to thrive.
We have seen Kilimanjaro Climbs, marathons and even 5km walks raise large sums of money for great causes, our hope is that a trip all the way across Canada by an old man in a boat can achieve the same. To do so, we rely on everyone's support and are truly humbled and grateful to each and everyone who shows it.
How to Donate:
1) Secure on-line donations: click here. **100% of all on-line donations receive tax receipts.
2) Send a cheque, payable to:
Tides Canada - Strachan Hartley Foundation
468 Arbutus Ave, Duncan, BC
**Donations made by cash or cheque of $50 or more receive tax receipts.
As before, Michael continues to update his daily progress on the SHLF website
This includes daily check-ins via his SPOT tracker, photos and media updates, and links to social media (Facebook and Twitter) which are being updated daily.
For more info please contact firstname.lastname@example.org