First Step : Canada Across Water

My presentation and the basics of the project being laid, it only needs to be given life. I didn’t emigrate from France by chance, that’s why the first crossing that will launch “Open Your Wild” will be done in Canada, where I finally found the resources and the energy I need to launch this project. And what better place to start this fight for a better world than one of the largest natural countries in the world where major ecological and environmental issues are at stake?

For this inaugural trip, I chose water as the main theme of my adventure. Canada has one of the largest freshwater reserves in the world, with almost 20% of the world’s freshwater reserves in its territory. Nevertheless, the use, management, and protection of this liquid treasure does not seem to live up to its importance. As water is one of the greatest environmental and ecological issues of our future, I chose to follow its cycle and cross Canada over the water. From its source, in the hollow of the glaciers, to the Arctic Ocean, I will try to question its use, its good health, its protection, its management, and its pollution, while relating it to other ecological and environmental concerns.

I will begin my adventure from the Canadian Rockies and the Athabasca Glacier, which has lost half of its volume and retreated 1500 meters in a century because of global warming, I will follow the glacier’s water on the 3700 kilometers until the Arctic Ocean. First by cycling along the Athabasca River, I will be traveling alongside one of Canada’s largest pipelines, the Trans Mountain, which transports oil from Alberta through the Rockies to the shores of the Pacific Ocean. My bike ride will bring me to Fort McMurray, the third largest oil sand-mine in the world, exploited for its open pit oil a few hundred meters from the river with disastrous consequences for the environment and health of the river, of the wildlife and of the local populations. From there, I will be paddling the Athabasca River, leaving behind Fort McMurray to find nature back to Great Slave Lake. After a stop at Hay River on the shores of the lake, where I hope to highlight the actions, efforts and ecological and environmental initiatives of the city and local associations and organizations, I will keep going down the Mackenzie River. During this descent, the Enbridge pipeline will accompany me a good part of the route, to its starting point: Norman Wells, colony created only for the purpose of oil exploitation, also close to the river. My trip will probably end at Inuvik, a city entirely built on permafrost, which is also strongly affected by global warming. Depending on time and if the weather and temperature conditions permit, I will make an attempt to reach Tuktoyaktuk and the Arctic Ocean.

From a more technical point of view, I will first cycle alongside the Athabasca River for 1000 kilometers to reach the center of the country and Fort McMurray, north of Edmonton. There, I will swap my bike for a kayak and I will continue on the 900 kilometers of the Athabasca and Slave Rivers, where I should sometimes carry my kayak for few miles to avoid violent rapids. Once I arrived at the Great Slave Lake and Hay River, I will end up by paddling down the 1,800 kilometers of the Mackenzie River, the longest in the country, to Inuvik and / or the Arctic Ocean and the town of Tuktoyaktuk where my adventure will end.

The departure of the expedition scheduled roughly the beginning of July 2019, which leaves me 2 months to prepare for it. As I still have a lot of work to do: precise organization of the itinerary, visibility of the project, accumulation of knowledge and information, gathering equipment, physical preparation, search for support / sponsors, selection of equipment and multiple adaptations to respond to the eco-characteristics of the project… I have set the goal to complete this trip in less than 2 and a half months. For those who want to take a look at the itinerary :

Itinerary, Estimates and Details:

Part 1: Bicycle = Athabasca Glacier – Fort Mc Murray:

• Distance: 1020 km.

• Elevation gain: 4000m.

• Negative elevation: 5700m.

• Estimations: 5 to 8 days of cycling.

• Course Details: Athabasca Glacier -> Jasper -> Hinton -> Lorina -> Flatbush -> Athabasca -> Fort Mc Murray.

• Approximate departure date / Goal: Beginning of July – 10th of July.

2nd Part: Kayak = Fort Mc Murray – Hay River:

• Distance: +/- 900 km.

• Course Details and Estimates:

  • Fort McMurray – Fort Chipewyan = 6-10 days / 298 km.
  • Fort Fitzgerald – Fort Smith =  walking part to avoid 21 km of rapids: 1-2 days.
  • Fort Chipewyan – Fort Fitzgerald = 3-5 days / 163 km.
  • Fort Smith – Fort Resolution = 6-8 days / 280 km.
  • Fort Resolution – Hay River = +/- 2-3 days / +/- 100-120 km.

• Estimates: 3-4 weeks.

• Approximate departure date / Goal: July 10th – August 3rd.

Part 3: Kayak = Hay River – Inuvik / Tuktoyaktuk:

• Distance: +/- 1800 km.

• Course détails and estimates:

  • Hay River – Fort Providence = 3 days (119km).
  • Fort Providence – Jean Marie River = 5 days (196km).
  • Jean Marie River – Fort Simpson = 2 days (68km).
  • Fort Simpson – Wrigley = 6 days (235km).
  • Wrigley – Tulita = 7 days (254km).
  • Tulita – Norman Wells = 2 days (79km).
  • Norman Wells – Fort Good Hope = 5 days (195km).
  • Fort Good Hope – Tsiigehtchic = 9 days (352km).
  • Tsiigehtchic – Inuvik = 3 days (125km).
  • Inuvik – Tuktoyaktuk = 6 days (183km).

• Estimations: 6-8 weeks.

• Approximate dates / Goals: 5/7 August – Mid-September.