Power To Be participant reflects on 10 years of memories in Vancouver

Paddling at Deep Cove

It was an overcast day at Deep Cove, and I thought that it was going to be less than nice day kayaking. It was the first day in a long while it hadn’t been sunny and clouds had always meant rain, and rain was no fun in a kayak. We got out there though and it didn’t rain. The clouds stayed perfectly white and the water was so smooth you could look through it like a mirror. We saw red rock crabs, horseshoe and hermit crabs, a veritable rainbow of five different colours of starfish just below the tideline on Jug Island and six seals swimming and playing beneath a dock in the marina. I had never seen sea life like that before and I don’t think I ever will again.

The Great Salmon Struggle

We took a two-night trip up to Granite Falls all the way up to the estuary at the head of the Indian River in Indian Arm Provincial Park. It was the end of a long hot summer and the falls on the first day weren’t much to look at. It was more like just a trickle. It was the first time I had ever seen a waterfall up close and I wasn’t terribly impressed, but just as we were coming around the corner of the campsite near where we would dock our boats all of a sudden silver salmon just started hopping right out of the water and over the bows of the boats. My paddling partner told me that he thought it was because of the change of the salinity in the water that the fish could sense they were leaving the ocean and were near the river.

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The next morning we went for a tour through the estuary to see how far we could get up the river without having to portage. I had never seen an estuary before and it reminded me of the nature documentaries I used to watch about the Amazon, where large trees with their roots like fingers reach down to suck up the warm water while they were suspended above it using their roots as stilts. 

It looked beautiful but it didn’t smell very good. It reeked of dead fish. It was spawning time for salmon and every now and then you would see a fish carcass that had floated to the surface. I thought “oh there must be fish swimming around here,” so I looked down. 

I couldn’t see the bottom for all the fish. It looked like some giant black snake was crawling slowly up the river. It didn’t look like individual fish and you could only make out heads and tails if you looked for them. We followed them all the way up to a point where there was a bend and the water got too shallow and stream-like to continue. I was convinced I wouldn’t see anything as truly awesome as the great salmon struggle, but I was wrong. 

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The second night we were there it rained harder than it had rained in months. The next day, just before we left we went around for one last pass by the falls and it was just gushing water like I had never seen. It was rumbling down over the rocks. You could hear it from hundreds of meters away. It was amazing.

Power To Play Vancouver

For the 2014 event I was fortunate enough to be part of the Power To Be team at Power To Play Vancouver. I loved it. There were so many things that we did that I wouldn’t have even thought of trying: pulling a car shooting arrows, building a raft, crawling through mud, scoring on Carl Valentine, crawling through a mud pit and directing the blind. I never thought I could do any of those things and I did them all. I would never have had the opportunity without Power to Be and I am very grateful for it.

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Through Power To Be I have developed a skill that is kayaking, and I do believe that I have progressed and improved in leaps and bounds over my decade of paddling. It has improved my overall confidence in myself, as well taught me a few basic survival and camping skills. I wouldn’t have learned how to put up a tent, use a knife, read a tide chart or know how to get out from under an overturned boat without Power To Be. 

Although these skills are almost Power To Be specific, they have helped me to build skills and put my disability in perspective and realize I can do a whole lot more than anybody ever told me I could or I ever thought I could. I have also made many long-term friendships and connections with my community thanks to Power To Be.

– Stories shared by Alanna Stockford, Vancouver Adaptive Recreation participant