140km down the mighty Fraser River

I left the house at 5am yesterday and returned home just before midnight, having paddled 140km from Hope to Burnaby without exiting my kayak. Our goal was to make it all the way to Vancouver, but what we thought would be a 120km paddle turned into more, and after 13 hours on the water we found ourselves navigating under bridges, past barges and avoiding tug boats pulling log booms in complete darkness.

Approaching the Pattullo Bridge, New Westminster

The paddle was perfect training for the Yukon, and I have to say this morning I’m in surprisingly good shape. I ate a ton, kept myself well hydrated, and paddled at a steady pace, stopping to stretch, pee, apply sunscreen, and generally ‘faff’ quite frequently throughout the day.

On the banks of the Fraser is Hope, getting ready to set sail

I paddled alongside my friend Jason who is also going to tackle the Yukon, but he’s going to do it standing on a SUP (stand up paddle board), which makes what I’m doing look easy (except for the welts on my backside caused by my heavily protruding seat, which he won’t need to contend with).

Seat cushion: Therm-a-Rest Z Seat

We weren’t out to set any records; the exercise was purely to test our systems, get out on a river, and spend as much time as possible on the water. Even the preparation I did the night before was invaluable, and I can now say I’m relatively dialled in when it comes to my systems in the boat, provided the boat I’m actually paddling in the Yukon can store my gear the same way as my big steady plastic boat.


Here is a list of things I still have to figure out before the race:

  • My nylon spray skirt with the convenient zipper eventually lets water through and may drive me crazy
  • I need drip rings for my paddle to stop cold water running into the sleeves of my rain jacket and chilling me to the bone when the wind picks up
  • I need to figure out a better way to mount my Go Pro, or find a new camera solution altogether
  • I may need a new seat cushion option (although the seat of the Epic 18 may be more forgiving)
  • I’m going to consider repositioning my urinal device from behind my seat to a more accessible location
  • I could barely reach my thermos in my deck bag (and after 11 hours the soup was only just warm enough to drink)
  • My rain hat performs terribly in the wind
  • I may need thicker leggings (I’m using the ones I slept in on the PCT which have more holes than actual material left).
My hefty pile of gear

Things that are working:

  • My Think Powerwing Paddle (I can’t sing its praises enough!)
  • My inReach tracking device
  • My system for water and electrolytes (1 x 4L dromedary bag of water, 1 x 4L dromedary bag of NUUN behind my seat)
  • My deck bag (thanks to Martin a previous racer who’s lent it to me)
  • My new Stearns PFD from Canadian Tire (it has all the pockets you could ever need)
  • My female urinary device (best $5 I’ve ever spent)
  • My Garmin 62S GPS – phenomenal (lasted 13 hours on rechargeable batteries)
  • My OR sun gloves (except if it gets cold…. hmmmm)
  • My food for the first 13 hours (half a packet of Fig Newtons, gummy worms, boiled mini potatoes, three soft boiled eggs, Boost nutritional drink with extra calories, two cliff bars, a few sips of soup, stick of cheese, half a squeeze tube of baby food).
Ziplock bag duct taped inside the open neoprene pocket of my PFD

I’ll post a full gear and food list once they’re complete, but for now, here’s a snapshot from the day (when the camera actually decided to work!)

10 thoughts on “140km down the mighty Fraser River”

    1. Oh thanks Susan! I felt so far removed from the world out on that river. Very similar to the remoteness of the trail! The scenery and power of the river made me feel so alive. I’m so looking forward to experiencing that again on the Yukon!

  1. Well done. That’s some river. Can’t believe how much stuff you need to have on board but I guess it will be vital down the Yukon. Great videos despite the GoPro and Eye of the Tiger music does it nicely. It all looked so relaxed but what a long time to be on your butt. The astonishing thing is your buddy Jason appeared to do this as a stand up paddler – that is even more awesome. Congratulations kid.

    1. Thanks Rex!! Jason said his legs didn’t even hurt that much compared to when I finally stood up and could barely move my knees!! It’s astonishing and the first year ever that SUPs will be in the race so an added element of excitement to it all!

  2. Sounds like the training is going very well. A couple of aspects which you may find useful…1.hope you get time to put in sufficient days in the Epic before the race so you know the seat suits you, otherwise it could ruin the enjoyment factor completely. 2. If the leaking spraydeck annoys you on the training run it will feel much worse in the race. The race will be a great adventure, good luck.

    1. I agree on both accounts! I will have to test out an alternative spray skirt (neoprene without a zip) and will get up to the Yukon as early as possible with a variety of seat cushion options just in case!!

  3. Hi Suzanne…..You are sure practicing with great determination….and, boy, that trip you just did, showed a lot of helpful things for your big trip…. Glad you are having fun learning a brand new adventure in your life, sweetie….keep up the hard work…..Thanks for sharing with us….I was thinking about you when your blog appeared….hmmmmm…..great minds think alike….well, maybe…..smiling….love and hugs from your old California friend….Barbie

    1. Hi Barbie, it’s great to hear from you! Thanks for your supportive words. It certainly was a wonderful trip and great training for the big race. I’m trying to find the right balance between pushing hard and getting enough rest in the lead up. How’s the book coming along? Have you had a lot of progress? Enjoy your weekend and take care!

      1. Hi Suzanne….I haven’t gotten started on my book….have had a few big challenges, enough to keep me sort of “locked” up in the brain department…..smiling…..I keep wondering about getting started…I even dreamed a dream about starting…..oh, well, I think you understand….You have a great weekend too….love & hugs from your old friend in California…..Barbie

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