Where he can canoe, he paddles. Where he can’t canoe, he pedals.
Ron Sherk, age 64, has developed a unique way to tour the country in his retirement.
He has a canoe with wheels that he can attach and remove as needed. He also has a small bicycle that he can fold up to fit inside the canoe – or unfold to use to pull the canoe when it’s on its wheels.
“I certainly turn heads when I’m pulling the canoe,” he said. “when I’m in the canoe, generally I’m away from people and so no one sees me.”
Sherk formerly lived in Salmon Arm but sold his home there to finance his trip.
He left Vernon (his birth place) on May 21 and paddled south along Kalamalka Lake, Okanagan Lake, Skaha Lake and so on until he reached Osoyoos.
He then pulled the canoe out of the water and pulled it with his bicycle over Anarchist and Blueberry Paulson passes.
When he reached Castlegar he put the canoe in the water again. He paddled the Lower and Upper Arrow lakes to Revelstoke.
He then got on his bike again and pedalled over Rogers Pass to Invermere, where he spent a few days with his son.
He launched his canoe into the Columbia River near Invermere and paddled downstream to Kinbasket Lake (he had to portage the last 10 km before the lake). He canoed most of the length of the lake, then cycled the last 40 km to Valemount.
From there he cycled Highway 5 to Clearwater, where he stayed with his cousin, Lynn Sherk and her husband, Jim Robbie.
He planned to launch his canoe onto the ClearwaterRiver at the logging bridge by Brookfield Creek, then go down the North Thompson and Thompson rivers. Eventual goals include paddling the Inside Passage and down the Mackenzie River.
“Somewhere along the way I’ll have to find a place to hole up for the winter before then,” he said.
Sherk appears to be well equipped for his expedition.
His canoes is an 18.5 foot kevlar Sea Clipper made in Abbotsford. It weights only 56 pounds.
And he doesn’t actually paddle it. Instead, he uses a rig that let him row using his legs as in a racing scull.
“I use 10 foot oars that allow me to row at eight km/hr,” he said. “That compares to five km/hr when I canoe paddle or six or seven km/hr when I use a kayak paddle.”
The bike is a Dahon Formula S-18 fitted with 27 gears.
Although tiny, it is no toy. It and the canoe’s wheels fit under the spray skirt fitted to keep waves from getting water in the boat.
He uses all 27 gears when he goes up and down hills, he said. Going over Blueberry Paulson, however, there were pitches so steep he had to get off and push.
He carries a tent plus other camping gear. For communications, he has a cellphone plus a personal locator.
The trip has been a longterm dream, he said.
“I’ve always been adventurous,” he said. “When I was 12 years old I always wanted to run away to live in the bush, except I couldn’t figure out how I would live once the sack of flour ran out.”
He has run several marathons and ultra-marathons, and has done extended bicycle trips in Mexico, New Zealand and Australia.
For the last 15 years he has been in business on his own, doing GPS traversing for the forest industry.
That experience has left him both physically fit and mentally prepared to live alone in the bush.
“I have no thoughts that this isn’t what I want to do, that’s for sure,” he said. “Just bring on the next leg.”
Those interested can follow Ron Sherk’s adventures on his blog, www.nomader.ca.