It has been a long, slow float. Our morning began early as planned with a satisfying confirmation of an owl call we had heard the night before. A Short-eared Owl sat perched in a cottonwood above the kitchen this morning calling as he had. We had identified him correctly by call the night before. Until this point in the trip, we had only heard the call of Great Horned Owls night and day, interestingly enough.
The sun was out, above the coulee slopes and warming our already sunburnt skin by 10 am. We stopped for lunch on a gravel bar where Aida made acquaintance with a curious cow.
I had made a habit a long time ago to check the map is with me any time I put in. I did after lunch and did not find it in its usual spot, I hollered to Dad, behind me, to get back to the gravel bar to look for the map, before we were too far down the river. After searching the banks and coming up empty handed I had a revelation and upon inspection of the cooler confirmed my suspicion, I found the map with the lunch food I had put back in the cooler.
We stopped once more for a swim and a chance to climb to coulees for cell reception. We had been sending SPOT check-ins, so our ride (Logan) would know which bridge we would be at, however we were originally planning on being picked up tomorrow, so we needed to notify him of an early pick-up. While Dad swam, the dogs and I climbed a coulee side in search of a single bar. I sent a quick text and began my decent, the dogs busy rolling and rubbing themselves in the new found meadow, so thrilled with the scratch of grass on the backs they ended up rolling down a coulee side. We found our way to the bottom, the dogs much faster than I, for a cooling swim before our last 4 hour stretch.
The river was wide and slow with the occasional and what seemed evenly spaced set up rapids. Nothing like the chutes of the first few days, just faster portions, a welcome relief.
We found the bridge and unloaded the gear into the Municipal District of Taber Park. Although not usually a fan of RV parks, I found the environment here inviting. It is a romantic spot with small gravel roads winding through an old cotton wood stand. I am sure the people must have been wondering what we were doing, sitting on a picnic table with piles of gear around us, looking like scrubs I’m sure. The camp staff was welcoming and allowed us to rest there for a few hours while we waited for our ride. We watched young families and old couples on their bikes, out for a walk with their dogs and visiting in their neatly designated camping spots. I can see they must find the same serenity that I do being outdoors, even if they aren’t canoeing down the Oldman River.