Brett Casey is heading back to school in Fredericton, New Brunswick in September, and to get there, he’s canoeing across Canada.
Coming along for the cross-country summer adventure is Casey’s friend Elias Niederkorn and Tundra the dog.
“In late December, I called my friend Eli and said: ‘Hey do you want to canoe to New Brunswick?’ and pretty quickly he said: ‘Sure! Let’s do it.'”
Casey said the idea stemmed from a combination of pandemic boredom and craving excitement.
“It was really just adventure,” he said. “The second wave of COVID hit and the third wave hit and we just figured: this is a COVID-safe fun thing to do and get outside.
“The world is not ending; it’s just on a bit of pause right now.
“But you can still get outside and have a ton of fun and enjoy the beautiful river valley in Edmonton or wherever in Canada you live, there’s lots of opportunity to get outside and be safe and have a ton of fun.”
Both men have forestry backgrounds and both worked as wildland firefighters for many years.
“I’ve only ever canoed and rafted in rivers,” Casey said. “I’ve never done much lake stuff. Eli’s done quite a bit of lake stuff and not much rivers. Between the two of us, we should be able to figure it out.”
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The trio expects the trip to take between four or five months, depending on weather and other conditions. The goal is an average of 40 kilometres a day. They have enough supplies to last about three weeks then they call a friend in Canmore who will mail them prepared packages of additional supplies along the way.
The starting point was Rocky Mountain House, Alta. and they’ll end up in Fredericton, N.B., where Casey and Niederkorn first met.
“My good friend Brett needed a companion for a big adventure,” Niederkorn added.
“I couldn’t think of a better way to spend the summer besides hitting the river and kind of doing what the voyageurs used to do and see Canada.”
So far, they’ve encountered a bear and a porcupine but Tundra’s been an effective guard dog, Niederkorn said.
“This is just another adventure for her,” he said, explaining she’s come along on past boating trips. “She gets us motivated to get out of our tents and get on with the day. It’s always a nice companion to have.”
The friends are looking forward to seeing more wildlife and just being present, surrounded by nature.
“Every place has its own beauty across this country,” Niederkorn said. “To be able to take it slow and on the river is a great way to experience it.”
The two are documenting their adventure on Instagram.