(Just to be clear, the title isn’t my attempt at using hip slang; it’s a hilarious pun because I go Stand Up Paddleboarding at Kettle Point)
So now that I’ve gotten past my bison vs buffalo rant and have cleared up the title, without further ado kids, this is my story about my trip to Kettle Point:
Basically, Kettle Point is home to the group “camping” site in Wood Buffalo National Park. Notice the quotation marks around “camping”, because the site is fully equipped with a yurt-like cabin, washroom and playground AND has private access to the lake. By camping standards, it’s luxury living. Its awesomeness factor is also significantly increased by the fact that it’s only about a 40minute drive out of Fort Smith, most of which takes you through prime bison-spotting territory. I literally squealed with delight the first time I saw one so much, my buddy had to pull over the car so I could scamper out and start an impromptu photo-shoot while blatantly ignoring everyone’s warnings not to get too close.
I basically went through the exact same squealing and jumping out of a car-scenario the first time I saw a black bear in Banff National Park, so I figured if I made it through that fine, I could definitely handle taking pictures of bison.
Eventually, I realized that everyone else had already seen a bison, weren’t nearly as ecstatic as I was and were more preoccupied with actually getting to the site, so I decided to hop back in the car so we could continue on our way.
After eagerly scanning the forest-lined road, searching for more bison (I saw quite a few more, to my delight and the pain of everyone else’s earlobes as the squealing continued), we suddenly turned a corner and BAM! Out of (what seemed to be) nowhere popped a colossal lake and an even more monumental sky.
I spent a few moments being sky-struck (a condition I’ve been experiencing quite often where the afflicted party is so overtaken by the vastness of the wild blue yonder, they become momentarily paralyzed, mouth left slightly agape).
I eventually recovered and spent the remainder of the evening around the campfire being amazed instead at the fact that there were about 4,000,000 mosquitos buzzing around my face the entire evening, but that my bug dope (northern-speak for mozzie spray) was keeping from getting bitten even once before falling into a luxury, not freezing in a tent-sleep.
The next morning, I was up in time to frolic around one of the trails leading up to the site before the main attraction.
If you were able to take the hint from the title, the main attraction is stand up paddleboarding. Now, SUP has gotten some bashing for basically being like surfing with a crutch in no waves. BUT, the fact that it was the only athletic activity I have ever been able to do well the first time I ever attempted it made it pretty awesome. Yeah, I was out on the lake for over an hour and never once fell off the board! Aw yeah, I’m a champ! If the water is calm, the board is pretty forgiving to slight wobbles, and I really got into the zen of the moment paddling across the calm, vast lake while towering over the water. At one point, I even came across a herd of bison grazing along the shoreline and was able to paddle right up to them without them so much as flinching. We locked eyes for an elongated moment before the bull returned to its grassy feast and I returned to paddling.
After cruising the waters for an undetermined amount of time, I checked my watch to realize it had broken several hours ago. Feeling in s sunny side of life kind of mood, I took this as a sign that time has no meaning at Kettle Point, it’s a place to get away from it all (unless you include friends, campfires, bison, mosquitos, SUPs or cabins in “it all”).