Water story

The plains of Alberta and Saskatchewan.

The wind, the sand, the pesticides are coming at me, head on at 40km/hour. The dryness of the land dries my mouth, my eyes and hits my lungs.

I am thirsty, there is no water here. The small lakes are filled with minerals from the soil and chemicals from man to satisfy a material thirst for which we are all responsible.

I resist and continue to drive against the wind to get to the next gas station. Here I am not self-sufficient, but rather dependent for a proper drink.

Since I am in the plains, I make sure I have my 5 litres of water in the morning when I leave. I can’t carry more than that. I have to consider what stops I will make in small villages. Some of them don’t have a grocery shop or gas station. I am in a desert…

Ten kilometres separate me from the next gas station and I can’t get there anymore, the wind is slowing me down, the intense heat is dehydrating me and the sun that burns me doesn’t want to go to sleep and let me cool off. It’s 7pm, I look for shade, but there are no trees. So I rush on, exhausted, and hope to arrive before the closing of this gas station, otherwise I won’t have any water.

I see a mini lake, but I don’t dare to drink from it… A ring of salt surrounds it and all these fields full of pesticides slow me down.
Here, most of the inhabitants do not drink tap water.

The beauty of the plains that brings me inner peace is also violent and exhausting. I have been fighting for some time with this wind that does not turn. I resist, an overwhelming loneliness takes hold of me.

Today the weather will change.
It is announced, snow, wind and sub-zero temperature.

As I progress through these linear landscapes, I am almost tempted to believe, as some do, that the Earth is indeed flat!
But the Sun reassures me that tomorrow will be here, but not quite the same… Like the revolution of my wheels in front of endless landscapes. Like the ephemeral wishes that we make day after day…


In these conditions, daily life is a challenge in itself. Every morning I pack my bags and every evening I make a camp to spend the night. My body works continuously to provide for my basic needs. It also works to keep me going. Hydration is a vital need, it plays an important role in maintaining my energy. I can’t afford to be dehydrated.

Taking minerals (ionic trace elements) is highly recommended for maintaining hydration; it helps with tissue formation and muscle function.

The SteriPen

To treat my water I use a UV lamp system commonly known as SteriPen. This kills bacteria, protozoa and viruses by 99%.
A simple and effective system for a trip of several months. But you need to have water sources on the way. This system has been perfect so far; except here with the limited accessibility to water and especially polluted water, as this system does not remove the chemicals accumulated over time.

From top to bottom

Everything that goes up must come down.

We were at Lake Louise…
239 km from Jasper on the Glacier Road.
A park warden informed us that it would be impossible to sleep in a wilderness campground in the national park. We didn’t like it but the campsites were closed because it was too early in the season. No choice, especially as a recently awakened mother grizzly is prowling around and our food would be a perfect target!

In Bear Country

We are in the transition from winter to spring. The bears are waking up from their sleep and are also in a new cycle. The wake-up call is brutal and they still haven’t had their first morning coffee! We must therefore be vigilant to avoid a potential encounter.

Sleeping in the woods, with animals…

When travelling, every constraint can become an opportunity.
Our solution: rent a car to Edmonton. We can still enjoy the nature and the national park and we can do some hiking and rest our tired muscles.

So here I am, hiking in Jasper. After my head injury, hiking in the high mountains was impossible for me, as the altitude was unsettling. I felt strong and ready to attempt this 2200m mountain. The happiness of climbing a mountain was coming back to me! I am here, I am succeeding! I undertook the climb. My symptoms had disappeared! Step by step I climbed, step by step the happiness of success permeated my being!

Promising mountains

Suddenly, I can’t go on, I’m shaking…
I feel the symptoms of 3 years ago coming back! I don’t want to experience this weakness again! I am afraid, I am still shaking, I have no balance… a step forward is endless… The summit is there and I want to reach it. I resist and continue even though I am afraid to stay in this state. There is a mixture of happiness and pride at having managed to get so high and despair at the return of the symptoms.

Threatening sky and crowing

1800 metres. How come I can’t go any further, how come my body is resisting, how come my head has no control over anything? And this mountain, so threatening, doesn’t allow me to take a false step…
My travel partner is worried and has to help me to get down safely. I am now back down to 1000 metres; my loss of balance is fading and I am regaining my inner stability.

From the summit to the coulée

Fatigue set in and a few days’ break in Edmonton would be much appreciated. The abrupt transition from the mountains to the plains was necessary…

End of the dream day…

I open the door of this small hotel room… Tears are running down my sunburnt cheeks! The symptoms are back… Half of my head is numb and I am shaking! A rest here will do me a lot of good. I hope that the plain will bring me a salutary lull…

Plains, sweat & dust

Would the spirit of the Bear, encountered in the heights, come to signify to me the need to pull myself together and set up more appropriate limits to assert my personal space and a new rhythm for my peregrinations?

I will have the Plains to answer…

Accompanied by my shadow