In 2016, Olivier and Zoë started their journey by bike, sail and foot. With WeLeaf they want to inspire other people to travel on their own and to discover nature. Since they are Europeans, they support bringing wilderness and adventure closer to the people that live in Europe, so they can travel with a smaller ecological footprint. This is why they support Rewilding Europe and The European Safari Company. Follow their journey with us.
'This time we are canoeing! Our biceps and triceps work hard to paddle 1200 kilometers trough the Northern Forests of America. We are following a Native American Travel route through different lakes, rivers, ponds and streams. Although we thought our arms would suffer, we quickly learned it is a full body workout.
Obstacles like dams and whitewater make us portage, walk with the canoe, more than 150 kilometer in total. Most of them are wheelable, but with some we have to carry the full load of 90 kilo’s over stoney and slippery walking trails. Also another few hundred kilometers is upstream paddling or plunging trough the water over boulder and gravel fields, like it mostly turns to be. Not mentioned the difficulties of climate, like wind and rain.
However, it is another way of human power that brings us close, very close to what we are doing and where we are doing so. It is a treat. The canoe is a silence mode of transport that triggers senses. No sound of crispy footsteps trough the grass or zooming wheels over the asphalt.
We are more silent than the wind. We get to see, smell and hear the water life. Fish, otters, kingfishers, loons, bald eagles and beavers lure in river corners or high up in a tree. The beavers are easy to spot in flat water streams. They show off with the biggest dams and make us carry over them. Last week we had to pass over 33 beaver dams in two days. It made us wonder why beavers build dams, because the dams themselves are not there houses. They seem to build dams to create deep and flat water, where they than can build their lodge. The dam makes sure the beavers home doesn’t flush away. The entrance to the lodge is under water so predictors can’t enter. This way the dam helps to protect them.
Although they make it hard for us climbing over half a meter high dams, we are thankful for their work. If they wouldn’t need it as protection, we wouldn’t be able to paddle. After summer, rivers and streams are shallow or even completely dried up. With the logical consequence of more portaging. Low water is the main reason why many wouldn’t advise going ‘so late in the season’. We take it for granted and only see all the advantages. No mosquitos, warm water, more physical variety, help of the beavers and the Indian summer as big reward at the end of the trip! We are outdoors, what more do we need?
Next month we will cross the boarder into Canada where we will be waiting for winter. Again we hope to explore new human powered traveling; cross country skiing. Cross your fingers for us for a good amount of snow!
Zoë en Olivier - WeLeaf