I grew up paddling Canadian Shield rivers and my dad taught me to light a fire, read a map, and swim for shore when we ended up in the drink. I’ve guided for Nahanni River Adventures since 2000 and there’s nothing I love more than getting up early on a chilly morning with the mist still on the water and lighting the fire and getting that first pot of coffee going. Or drifting in silence with my feet up on the gunwales and watching the canyons or the rolling hills of tundra drift by. Or making it through a pounding rapid and then hurling yourself into the water for a cool-down swim. Or in the long evening light being caught in the gaze of a wolf who is watching us watching him.
My book, Deepwater Vee, which was a finalist for a Governor General’s Award in Literature, features a suite of river poems subtitled with the GPS coordinates of some of my most memorable spots on the river I love—the Nahanni, the Tat/Alsek, the Burnside, the Thelon. In the winter, I teach creative writing at the University of Victoria and work as a volunteer counsellor at Citizens’ Counselling. In the spring of 2013, I’ll be the writer-in-residence at the Pierre Berton House in Dawson City, Yukon.