In order to retell this story I will be writing it in multiple parts, I could go for one foul swoop but like a movie I would be skipping too many details, and let me tell you every detail to this story wants to be told. So without further adieu, I invite you to enter this journey, one that took me to what is for some lucky folks a not so distant land. I returned just yesterday from the trip to the Grand Rapids Wilderness Adventures backcountry lodge, north of the town of Atahasca on the Southern edge of the Boreal Forest of Alberta. I find myself sitting in a coffee shop writing these words, I will do my darnedest to tell this story as well as I can. I have to admit that finding the right words is proving to be a difficult task, I have a deep intensity within me that perhaps only a trip to the backcountry can give you. On the river’s edge of the Athabasca lies GRWA, where Darcy and Shirley own and operate the lodge that caters to Eco tourism, and if you are into wilderness and adventure this is a great place to explore.
Gypsy proverb “when the river bends, bend with it.”
So the story begins.
It all begins one fine day when I receive an email from an old friend, in his message he writes that a video production company is seeking an artist they would like to document for a Travel Alberta campaign, my spider senses rising I reply to my friend and that leads to eventually being casted by Clauida Neff, thank you, as the artist for the journey. I also put out a call on Facebook, the production company wants me to bring a friend, and this would lead to my co-explorer, Ania. To be honest Ania and I did not really know each other that well, this would all change, as we set to embark on a journey North. Where we are going I have never been. I prepare for the voyage, the usual packing of the kit, while my wondering mind imagines what is about to take place. After a really short sleep, I awake the next morning and my pal Ian gives me a ride to the production house where I meet Claudia, Ania, Ryley and some of the crew. I can sense that none of us really know what is about to happen. We meet and greet and eventually we pile into out respective vehicles, and ahoy we go. Ahead a long drive North, not quite far north but certainly just north enough to experience some precious wilderness, Mother Earth’s creation, the land I am not always privy to living in the city. Just to getting there is a journey, and as such this entry is dedicated to, it sets the tone. The ride consists of a long drive through cities, car sales centers, towns, satellite cities, pasture land, past oil wells, pulp mills, skies filled with puffy grey white clouds, fluffy cumulus, ominous presence and eventual deluge, making seeing difficult, white knuckle, remember to breath kind of stuff. As we head through oil country, or at least that seems how most people know it, the anticipation rises, I keep myself in the moment by taking shots with my handy docu device, which is key to retelling an adventure like this. First stop the town of Athabasca, for an overnight before we set out in the morning. For me the land I am about to visit is similar to time travel, where I am heading is an ancient place, where fossils lay silent yet hold 250 million years of story, and the great Boreal Forest Begins, where early explorers followed their dreams, and Pioneering hunters and trappers courageously faced their days. I spend the first night with Ania and the the crew consisting of the director extraordinaire, Eppo Erkes, Sean Henning camera, DOP and artist no doubt, Brad Schewagga, or Be rad, B camera and grip, Justan Ross, sound, and the intern Ania Wolksa, actually Ania is hardly an intern, she was my co pilot, and marvelous co Talent. We bonded that first night, after some shopping the team was introduced and a cheers set the tone for the days to come. Following beer and protein, we hit the hay, call time was right around the corner and one more nights sleep would be a good thing before we set out on our adventure on the Athabasca River to the Grand Rapids Wilderness Adventures backcountry lodge.
FotoMahaloness -the journey begins, images of the country I live, once outside the city one will find farmland, and the what is known as Big Sky country. Additional fotos courtesy Ania Wolska