By comparison, my weekend fat bike packrafting adventure seems kind of rinky-dink.

Stop reading this now and flip to page 40. There you’ll find David Jackson’s account of the who’s who of whitewater kayaking scouting from a de Havilland Beaver floatplane an undiscovered wave in a remote northern location. Then, after a traditional First Nation ceremony in their honor, departing in motorized rafts to spend a week living like kings eating and drinking beside 83,695 cfs of never-before paddled whitewater nirvana.

Okay, now turn to page 32 and read my feature story. Cam and I drive west an hour from his house. We cycle 35 kilometers up abandoned logging roads carrying all our own river gear. We eat oatmeal and bags of Uncle Ben’s converted rice. We inflate rubber dinghies and, by comparison to the Dream Wave, we float a lazy class II canoe-tripping river. We spend one whole whoop-dee-do freezing cold night away from home. We take out in the dark four hours later than expected, hungry, wet and shivering. Rinky-dink maybe, but exactly what I needed.

The transformative power of travel

According to Vogue, the hot new trend for 2017 is transformative travel. So like, this is when travelers venture out of Starbucks into jungles to learn ancient wisdoms of tribal cultures, return home to implement their new-found knowledge and brag about it at cocktail parties.

Whatever the length or difficulty level, transformative travel experiences inspire us on deeper levels. Oatmeal will do that to you. | Feature photo: Scott MacGregor

Chic travelers today are seeking life-altering experiences. Transformational travelers are motivated by a shift in perspective, self-reflection and development.

When I left my office, my brain was still closing annual advertising contracts and negotiating to waive a three-percent increase in paper costs. I’d forgotten to attend my daughter’s art gallery induction and I let a telephone call from my mother go to voicemail. I found myself packing late on Friday night, last minute as usual, because I’d taken one more call from a client before leaving the office. I wasn’t thinking about finding a deeper communion with nature and culture. I was going paddling to forget about life for a while.

We don’t have transformative, life-changing experiences on everyday river runs or at urban play parks. For real transformation to occur experts say the outcome of an experience must be unknown and the experience must include four necessary elements. Genuine challenge, check. Natural environment, check. Matching of experience and competencies, close enough. Heightened connection to the universe, okay, sure.

I’m not at a stage of life where I can drop everything and Cannonball Run to the Nelson River with a van full of buddies. Turns out, I don’t need to.

Two days of something completely different is good enough. I stopped telling myself what I should be doing and started asking what I really want to be doing. Transformation happens when travel shows you things that you never considered or have long since forgotten.

Upon my return, I bought my own fat bike, packraft, single burner micro stove and a spork. With my rekindled sense of adventure I’ve spent the winter scouting maps for new wilderness rivers I can ride up and paddle down. I’m no longer dreaming about the trips I think I should be taking, but probably won’t. I’m now planning adventures I know I can make happen. Heck, I don’t even need a shuttle.

Not exactly the life-changing transformative stuff one might brag about over a Smoked Butterscotch Latte Frappuccino but for the price of one and how long it takes them to make it, I can pack four days worth of food.

Scott MacGregor is the founder and publisher of Rapid.

Cover of Rapid Magazine Spring 2017 issueThis article was first published in the Spring 2017 issue of Rapid Magazine. Subscribe to Paddling Magazine’s print and digital editions, or browse the archives.

Whatever the length or difficulty level, transformative travel experiences inspire us on deeper levels. Oatmeal will do that to you. | Feature photo: Scott MacGregor



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